In a little purple house perched on South Presa Street is Pig Liquors. This is no ordinary liquor store, but then, this little area at the crossroads of the Lavaca and King William Neighborhoods, just south of downtown San Antonio, has a glorious, funky character all its own. Is this a liquor store? A vintage store and gift shop? Pig Liquors’ many nooks displaying everything from obscure Latin American beers to handcrafted aprons and recycled linen skirts to vintage shot glasses, make it one of San Antonio’s most interesting places to purchase items to imbibe or wear.
Pig’s friendly and chatty owner, Anet Alaniz, greets you from behind the counter stocked with things like mini liquor bottles, bottle openers and light switch plates. (There’s even a new mini cake-flavored vodka she just started carrying. It comes complete with cupcake holder-shaped shot glasses and candles. Perfect timing as I picked one up as a birthday present for a friend.)
Patrons stream in, talking wildly with Anet, and there’s a familiarity and camaraderie that permeates the little shop, stocked full of tequilas, mostly imported beers, and some wines in between vintage knickknacks. There’s fun and chit chat in the air about families or the neighborhood (like a new H-E-B grocery store that’s rumored to open).
Many of the non-alcoholic items for sale speak of San Antonio’s history and heritage. Among them are old Texas Cavaliers Fiesta glasses, recycled totebags made from Museo Alameda past exhibit posters, vintage ties and clothing and jewelry made by local designers with vintage flavors. All of these mingle with beverages in alcoves throughout the little house. Recycled totes hang side by side with bottles of tequilas–some familiar, some exotic that you buy mostly to show off its fun bottle. For a Jose Cuervo, you can even get a matching Jose Cuervo light switch plate to match your bottle!
Because she caters to the neighborhood, Pig Liquors doesn’t stock a huge variety of brands, as the intent is to cater to the surrounding neighborhoods. Anet is always open and pleased to take special orders, but those who patronize Pig Liquors are not coming for a generic experience. That can easily be found elsewhere.
“Have you had this beer before?” Anet asks a scruffy man, motioning to the six-pack of Suprema beer on the counter that he’s purchasing. “It’s from El Salvador! It’s GOOOOOOD.” The three of us start talking about the beer, and then his reservation that night for Restaurant Gwendolyn, a San Antonio favorite of mine. I had never had such a fun time at a liquor store just making new friends and talking about drinks and food.
I loved watching the stream of eclectic people going in and out of Pig Liquors. Another patron picked up two Coronas and walked out with an old Bob Dylan concert poster too. As she departed, I sidled up to the counter to chat more with Anet. There are two bar stools appropriately placed in front, awaiting chisme.
“My first sale was a vintage dress, not a bottle of liquor!” exclaimed Anet. She explains to me that about 60% of her customers are women. “I think they feel more comfortable coming here than the other stores.” What’s quickly evident though, is that all of her customers seemed to be enthusiastic regulars who bought their goods, chatted and departed in good spirits. There was a nostalgia to these dealings, to seeing them occur in modern day, where mostly faint connections are made through cyberspace.
Anet has wine tastings every first Friday of the month from 6-8 p.m. (Which coincides with Southtown’s First Friday art walk.) In September, however, in honor of Deiz y Seis, there will very appropriately be a tequila tasting.
Rose Arriaga, a designer and seamstress, has a little studio in back of Pig Liquors where she gives new life to old linens, lace and other woven items. Each one of these, like the rest of the shop’s items, has a colorful history and story to tell much like the city where they’re reused and sold.
Like the intricate and stunning patterns of lace she works with, so to do you catch a glimpse of San Antonio. She creates delicate, flowing white skirts and tunics out of the materials she works with. Most of the donated linens had lives as tablecloths, but are now unwanted or loved. One time, Rose said, someone brought her a sealed wooden barrel full of old linens. Their tiny moth bites show through, and cream lace trimmings hang delicately on the racks, and it feels as if I’ve entered a completely different world when I stepped through to the back room in the house of booze.
Pig Liquors is a fun and highly spirited liquor store that is San Antonio’s own. You might walk out with a cold beverage, a wearable local find, and have made a new friend. Talk about true San Antonio style – oink, oink!
1017 South Presa Street