February 12, 2020

Full Selection of Wine, Beer, and Spirits Available at New Bottle King on State Road

TO YOUR TASTE: “We are set apart by our selection, prices, our knowledge and expertise, and our customer service. In a period of 49 years, Bottle King has grown to become the largest New Jersey retailer of wine, beer, and spirits.” Steve Carpentier, general manager of the company and co-owner of the Bottle King on State Road, is shown with Chateau Petrus Pomerol, a very special and hard-to-get Bordeaux.

By Jean Stratton

Word travels fast when something new and exciting arrives in the neighborhood!

To say that Bottle King, the new liquor store at 775 State Road, has made a hit is an understatement. Just opened in December, it already has regular customers, not to mention the new ones who show up every day.

“Best beer selection!” Best prices in alcohol!” “Great selection of everything!” “Terrific layout in the store!”

These are just some of the rave reviews from customers. An additional remark often heard: “The parking is great — no problem finding a space.”

All in all, good news for Bottle King owner Ken Friedman, who founded the family business in Union in 1970. There are now 15 Bottle Kings, including one in Hillsborough and another in East Windsor.

Major Goal

Opening in Princeton was a major goal, reports Friedman. “I always wanted to go to Princeton, and now I found a way without taking the SATs. Here I am! We believed Princeton would be a good match for us. There are many educated customers here, who have traveled, and who will appreciate our selections from around the world.”

He is proud of the
company’s reputation, which has gained admiration from many sources, including recognition as “Best Wine Store” by New Jersey Monthly magazine (2017), and being named as one of the “Top 10 Discount Wine Stores in America” by GQ magazine.

Friedman is equally proud of the employees, adding, “We are set apart by the people who work for us, many of whom have been with us for more than 20 years. And we travel all over the world to see the vineyards — from France, Spain, and Italy to California. Many of the wines we offer are exclusive to us in New Jersey.”

Wine continues to be a big seller, says Steve Carpentier, company general manager and co-owner of the Princeton Bottle King. He especially enjoys discovering new wines and sharing his knowledge with customers.

“I like knowing about the wine and the changes that come along with vintages. I enjoy sharing information with customers and introducing them to a new wine.”

With the company for 39 years, Carpentier has seen trends come and go, and customers’ choices change or remain steady. Overall, red wine continues to be the most popular, especially in winter, he notes, but white has its fans, as does rosé.

Strong Alternative

Champagne is always a favorite, particularly during the holidays or for special occasions, but prosecco has become a strong alternative as a more affordable option. A special Tosca Prosecco was recently on sale for $9.98.

Cordials, including Kahlua, Drambuie, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and others have diminished in popularity, but always emerge as a welcome gift.

Brandy, cognac, port, and sherry will always be in favor, and specialties, such as saki and ouzo, have their fans. Also popular are wine boxes, which have a longer shelf life, explains Carpentier.

“A recent development is the increasing popularity of flavored seltzers,” he adds. “These are really in demand, especially in the summer, but they do well year-round. They are very refreshing, light, with only 5 percent alcohol, and they come in many flavors. White Claw is the biggest seller.”

The continuing big news in spirits is bourbon. It is No. 1, with demand increasing all the time. Bottle King offers a very large selection, including some from the smaller distilleries.

“Some of these are in very limited quantities,” explains Carpentier, “and we have to hold a raffle for customers who want them, especially Pappy’s.”

Customer Favorite

Scotch, single malt in particular, remains a customer favorite, while gin and vodka have slipped a bit, he adds.

Not the case with beer, which is a major part of the business. Local beers are big sellers, says Carpentier, and the store has two walk-in coolers for Jersey beer. Craft beers, generally, are very popular.

Every kind of beer, ale, and lager is available, including specialties, notes Carpentier. “We also have India Pale Ale (IPA), which has become a favorite.”

The wide range of prices is a key attraction at Bottle King, and there really is something to suit everyone’s budget. Wine from $4.95 to one-of-a-kind bottles at $1,500-plus — and everything in between.

Special free club memberships are also offered, featuring additional discounts.

The exceedingly large and brightly-lit store offers wide aisles and a convenient arrangement, with selections presented by category and country. Designated temperature-controlled wine cases house the very special high end wines.

In addition to wine, beer, and spirits, Bottle King has an excellent array of cheeses from around the world, and gourmet jams and chocolates (including chocolate laced with Jack Daniels). Complimentary homemade bread and cheese samples are on hand for customers to taste.

Good Pairings

The knowledgeable staff members lend their expertise to party planning and consultation. “We will always help customers plan parties and also with information about good pairings of wine and food,” points out Carpentier.

Gift baskets are available, and a variety of wine glasses, gift bags, novelties, and other items are on display.

Ken Friedman looks forward to a long stay in Princeton, offering customers Bottle King’s special brand of service and selection.

“Our focus and commitment is to provide quality products at discounted prices. I especially enjoy the interaction with all the people, both customers and staff. We look forward to being a part of the Princeton community, continuing to offer our special selection, prices, and service. This is a good business to be in, a happy business!”

Bottle King is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Delivery in the Princeton area is available. (609) 524-9060. Email: princeton@bottleking.com.