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5 Questions: Scott Crestodina, Independent Spirits, Inc.

Meet Scott Crestodina, owner of Independent Spirits, Inc.

For over a decade, Scott has been dreaming of opening a spirits store in Edgewater. That dream came true on July 19th, 2013 when he opened Independent Spirits Inc. at 5947 N. Broadway in Edgewater (and almost completely sold out of product that first weekend).  Scott picked this location because it feels like home: For seven years, Scott lived in Edgewater, mostly in an apartment whose window overlooked what is now his store!  A 13-year veteran of the wine and spirit business, Scott managed Fine Wine Brokers in Lincoln Square before opening Independent Spirits.

1)    What is the inspiration behind the name Independent Spirits?
The spirits industry is largely dominated by five companies worldwide, so it’s fun to find and promote the little guys!  I’ve tasted almost everything I sell and it is important to me to support small, family-owned producers.

This store is definitely a labor of love. I started saving the wooden display boxes over 10 years ago.  During the year I was waiting for my liquor license, I had some time to start painting the maps of areas where wine is produced. (Editor’s note: You can see a few of Scott’s paintings in the picture at left.)

2)    What is your favorite product?
That’s too hard to choose. I drink something different every day depending on my mood!  There are two Spanish wines I really love, the 2003 Vina Bosconia by Lopez Heredia and the El Viejo by Matsu. (Editor’s note: Scott is holding both of these wines in the picture at left – and since the products he carries do change, you can follow the latest offerings on the Independent Spirits Facebook page, or visit one of his free tastings every Friday 5-7pm.)  The Vina Bosconia is a tempranillo-based wine that is aged for long periods of time to bring out the tertiary flavors.  The Toro is not a blend, it’s 100 percent tempranillo grapes from a much warmer climate, which means a bolder wine with more tannins.  That one also has a cool history. Matsu offers four different wines and each bottle has a picture of a different generation of their family. This one, since it’s from their oldest vine, is a picture of the great grandfather.

My favorite local Chicago products are the Koval liqueurs. They  are great because they are organically produced. We sell a lot of the Chrysanthemum and Honey – and Letherbee Gin.  They do a spring and a fall gin; I’m anxiously awaiting their new spring one!

3)    What trends do you anticipate in your business in 2014?
We’re in the middle of a sustained boom in the wine and spirits business – and especially in microbreweries.  Two or three micro distilleries have opened up in Chicago alone in 2013, and about 100 across the U.S.  I’m also seeing resurgence in the popularity of obscure liqueurs and cocktail ingredients.  We carry 30-40 types of bitters and they sell well.  Bourbon is huge right now as well, even bigger than the scotch market, which is also doing well.

I’d love to be able to take advantage of the exploding craft brewery market and sell more beer, but right now I am limited in that only 5 percent of my sales can be beer.  (Editor’s note: This restriction could be changed with Alderman Osterman’s approval. Please contact his office or the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce if you would like to be able to purchase more beer at Independent Spirits)

4)    What businesses would you like to see move into Edgewater?
I’d love to see a coffee shop and a bakery. It would be great to satisfy my latte cravings within walking distance!  More lunch options would also be great, which Whole Foods will help with, I think.

I would also like to see an Apple store move into the soon-to-be-vacant MB Financial bank building right across the street.

5.)   So what do you think about the Whole Foods coming to 6009 N. Broadway?
It will be a great addition to the neighborhood!  It’s smart of them to move in – this is a thriving community.  I definitely think it will help with foot traffic both to my store and others in the neighborhood.


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