Hurricane Irene: New Yorkers are hoarding booze.

News and analysis about the hurricane.
Aug. 27 2011 6:11 PM

Water, Water, Everywhere, but Not a Drop of Bourbon

In Brooklyn, it's the booze people are hoarding.

Bottles of wine. Click image to expand.

Yesterday a friend told me she heard that our local Brooklyn supermarket—about a block from Zone C, which could experience flooding from a Category 3 or 4 storm —was out of bottled water. (Irene is a Category 1 storm but a really nasty one.) I went there today to verify this third-hand information, and it turned out to be false: The shelves were teeming with all manner of Poland Spring, SmartWater, and Evian. Even though people mere blocks away had already been evacuated because of Hurricane Irene, the place was not much more crowded than on a normal Saturday. My Twitter feed was littered with reports of panic in the Whole Foods over in Manhattan, so I was surprised to find the outer boroughs less dedicated to hurricane preparedness.

Hoarding of liquor, however, was another matter. "Short lines in the grocery store and long lines in the wine store," reported a friend in an adjacent neighborhood. So I visited a few local liquor stores to see what kind of business they've been doing.

"It's Christmas in August," says Sherry Rader, manager of Smith & Vine. She says that hurricane hoarders are gravitating toward lower prices than average, but at a much higher volume. One Smith & Vine customer named Suzanne says she is planning to buy four bottles. "That's for three adults, if you want to do the math," she says. (The math: 1.33 bottles per adult.) She expects that cache to last her for two days.

Advertisement

At Henry Street Wines & Liquors, owner Dominick Tutrone says he's also been selling a great deal of wine, but he's also been nearly cleaned out of high-end bourbon, too, and he has an empty shelf to prove it. "I heard some woman comment that you don't need ice for bourbon, and it's strong and powerful, and people want to be, I guess, mellow," Tutrone says.

And locals are mellow: Walking down Smith Street, the retail center of the neighborhood, at around 4 p.m. on Saturday, you would have no idea a hurricane was coming except for the occasional duct tape cross stuck to a plate-glass window. The wine bar JakeWalk was nearly full, and guys in matching T-shirts and goofy hats were spilling out of the sportier Angry Wade's. "It looks like Irene's going to be a dud," said Suzanne. The rest of the neighborhood appears to agree.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.