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Russian deli in Brighton seeks to add vodka to offerings

Babushka customers support vodka bid

Babushka customers take break from shopping to support vodka bid.

Babushka Deli, 62 Washington St., has asked the Boston Licensing Board for permission to add specialty Russian vodkas to its existing beer and wine, in response, it says, to requests from the many Russian-Americans who live in an apartment complex behind the shop.

The board could decide on the request in a week, after hearing from the Brighton-Allston Improvement Association.

The mayor's office supported the proposal, as did a number of nearby residents, several Zooming in from the shop itself.

Not just Russian-Americans supported the proposal. One Comm. Ave. resident said he supports Babuskha in part because it proved such a great place to pick up essentials when the line into the nearby Whole Foods extended way out past the doors in the early days of the pandemic.

Babushka attorney Carolyn Conway said the store would put in a couple of extra shelves near the front to hold the new drinks; no deli items would need to be displaced or ended to make way for them. She added the deli would agree to a license restriction to not sell nips.


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Vodka is so hard to find in that neighborhood. Ask any student.

Voting closed 27

...you can get Ruble Vodka at Melvin's Pharmacy around the corner. Kudos to Babushka for giving the locals a better brand than the stuff that launched Laika into orbit.

Voting closed 27

Oh, a baby strawman position. Nice!

Voting closed 31

They should be permitted, because vodka is breakfast food in Russian culture.

Voting closed 8

They should be permitted, because, unlike Russia, this is supposed to be a market economy in which there shouldn't be a government agency deciding whether or not a need exists for a particular business to open in a particular location.

Voting closed 50

Why the hell this is even regulated I don't know. Why shouldn't they sell booze?

Voting closed 31

But I thought we already had too many liquor stores: https://www.universalhub.com/2016/board-rejects-delis-request-stock-old-...

And please correct me if I'm wrong, but having a beer and wine license isn't the same as having a full liquor license, which is what Babushka seeks, correct? Unless there's some sort of loophole where you can add a nips restriction to a beer and wine license where they don't have a full liquor license but promise to only be adding "a couple of extra shelves near the front to hold the new drinks." Because this creates a whole new category of licensing based on the ethnic makeup of my neighbors.

Voting closed 26

This article is not about a new category of license. Nor is about your or my neighbors. It is about this one unique situation.

Voting closed 22

Every situation is one unique situation.

Here we have a business that has a particular demand yet their business license doesn't allow them to satisfy that particular demand. They could buy a license that would permit them to not only address this particular demand, along with many others, yet they insist, both in 2016 and in 2021, that their particular demand is so particular that they should be allowed to address this one particular demand without having to go through the trouble of acquiring a different license. They even try to preempt any negative reactions to their request by agreeing to a restriction that can only be placed on them if they had the proper license should they decide to expand upon their particular demand in the future, which sure as it rains they will do. We know this because they've already tried to expand on their current license multiple times.

Currently in Massachusetts, liquor licenses fall into one of four categories:
1) All alcoholic beverages (wine, malt beverages, and distilled spirits)
2) Wine only
3) Malt beverages only
4) Wine and malt beverages

If Babushka's wants to sell vodka from their establishment, they'll need license category 1. There is currently no other way to do this, regardless of anyone's feelings on the matter.

Voting closed 17

Not sure if they sold booze, but it always seemed like they'd have a secret basement where John Wick could buy missile launchers.

Voting closed 28

Was always a fan of Berezka, and they have an interesting selection of vodka and other oddball eastern european booze, such as my personal favorite Riga Black Balsam. And cheap malt liquor, its in Allston after all.

Voting closed 18