Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hauling Hooch


I periodically have to move part of my liquor stash from point A to B. Sometimes it’s just a few bottles, sometimes it’s significantly more (Thursday Drink Night anyone?). In either case, I’ve used several methods to drag heaps of glass & liquid around, with the goal of having it all arrive intact.

So I decided to list the ways I’ve lugged booze and try to break down their relative merits and disadvantages. I wanted to do this for three reasons:

1) To toss out options to anyone who needs to move their booze from time to time.

2) To solicit ideas and find out what YOU use.

3) I really wanted to draw a picture of a milk crate.

Note: For purposes of this this comparison, we’re talking about standard-shaped 750 ml bottles, not goofy-ass ones like Patron and Galliano come in. I’m also assuming that you will be using a car to schlep this stuff- I have not factored in bus, train, skateboard, Segway, Rascal, golf cart or motorcycle/bicycle travel.


Milk Crate

Construction: Heavy plastic
Cost: Free (if you steal it). Price varies if purchased.
Capacity: Approx. 14
Availability: Widespread. Can be found in the wild or bought.
Pros: Virtually indestructible. Stable during transit. Convenient handles. Can be used as furniture at destination.
Cons: Moderately heavy when full. No inherent feature to prevent bottles clanking against each other.

The uses of milk crates aside from their intended purpose are legion. Chances are you have at least one in your house or apartment right now doing something other than holding milk. It’s also likely it technically belongs to a dairy company. I recommend *not* stealing these, but picking up inexpensive replicas which can be found at a variety of stores.

Milk crates are great for hauling liquor. They hold over a dozen bottles, have handles, stay put in your car, and are almost impossible to damage. They can also be lashed together (or to something else). Their primary flaw is that they allow bottles to bang around a bit, so you may need to rig up some method of cushioning them depending on how rough the ride will be.


Box From Liquor Store

Construction: Cardboard, staples, glue
Cost: free (around here they give ‘em away)
Capacity: 12 bottles
Availability: Plentiful
Pros: Can be easily repaired and/or reinforced with tape if necessary. Cardboard insert keeps bottles upright and slightly cushioned. Stable during transit. Recyclable.
Cons: Not waterproof. Often have no hand-slots.

These are hard to beat. They’re purpose-built, free, and disposable. Plus, there’s a virtually unlimited supply of them, provided you live near a liquor store. But before you use them, double-check that
a) they aren’t soggy, b) they’re in good shape. The main downfall of the liquor store box is that you usually need both hands to carry one, and they often don’t have handles.



Construction: Canvas, leather, metal
Cost: Varies (I got mine on sale for 8 bucks at Old Navy)
Capacity: Varies (mine holds about 6 bottles)
Availability: Common. Something similar can be found anywhere luggage is sold.
Pros: No-hands carry. Conceals contents.
Cons: Bottles lay on sides, resting against each other which may cause leakage & breakage.

The man-purse I use is a sturdy canvas satchel/messenger bag type thing. I‘ve carried liquor in it on several occasions, and it’s best when you’re only using it to lug 2 or 3 bottles at the most. More than that, and it gets pretty uncomfortable to have wrapped across your neck or shoulder for longer than a short walk. Plus, the bottles lie horizontally on top of each other which is less than ideal.

On the up side, it does have several side pockets which can hold smaller bottles of stuff like bitters, syrups, etc. The best feature is that you can have both hands free to carry something else…like more booze.


Wine Tote

Construction: Some kind of synthetic fabric
Cost: cheap (I got mine at Trader Joe’s for about a buck fifty)
Capacity: 6 bottles
Availability: Somewhat common. Can often be found at grocery stores that carry wine
Pros: Surprisingly strong. Sewn-in divider keeps bottles upright and slightly cushioned. One-handed carry. Fits in pocket when not being used.
Cons: May tip over in transit.

This a very handy item. It’s made of the same weird pseudo-cloth that reusable grocery bags are made of, and is pretty darn strong. If you’re carrying 6 or less bottles, this is a great option, although protection is minimal (in other words, don’t drop it). If you‘re carrying more than 6 bottles (like a case), you can use two and split the load and not have to juggle an unwieldy box.

The only flaw I’ve discovered is that it tends to tip in over the car, depending on how vigorously you drive. Use a seat belt or some other restraint to keep it upright in transit.


Bottle Shipper

Construction: Cardboard outer box, styrofoam or molded paper fiber insert, tape
Cost: free (if you re-use one that someone sent you).
Capacity: varies. Single and multiple unit shippers are available depending on manufacturer
Availability: Common (can be found in variety of shipping supply stores)
Pros: Superior protective capability. Conceals contents. Recyclable.
Cons: Bulky. Requires assembly/disassembly (though minimal). No handles

The bottle shipper’s best feature is also its Achilles heel. The thick, contoured inserts that keep bottles protected also take up a lot of space. I’ve only used a shipper once, and that was for a single bottle I really, really, didn’t want broken. They’re ideal for mailing booze, but not so great for hauling multiple bottles yourself- half your trunk will be occupied by packaging rather than bottles.

But if you want to be virtually 100% certain your giggle water doesn’t get destroyed, this is probably your best bet. The only better option I can think of is one of those snazzy, hard-sided, foam-padded cases that people use for camera equipment and the like. But I don’t have one of those, so testing will be delayed on that particular item.

Next time: wheelbarrow vs. shopping cart- which is better for transporting your passed-out buddy?


vernicus said...

When we moved from CA to IL, we packed ours in a standard moving box, wrapped in heavy towels for padding. We actually got rid of all our booze except our monster bottle of Kahlua and one large bottle of Bailey's. Wouldn't you know that of all the boxes we moved, I happened to slip and lose my grip on the one with the booze. We lost the Kahlua in a mess of wet cardboard, dark glass, and viscous, aromatic liquid, but the Bailey's survived.

Anonymous said...

My favorite mode of transport for 6-8 bottles is a wine tote inside a backpack. The bottles are concealed, they stay upright and don't clank together, and you can carry them on your back once you get out of the car.

If I'm trying to move more than that, I prefer a jacked-up Trans Am with tight suspension and a racing clutch so I can pull a quick 180 at roadblocks and outrun the revenuers.

Matthew Rowley said...

We moved from Philly to San Diego. A *very* few choice bottles made the trip, packed away with bubblewrap and sealed air. For the remainder, we spent the better part of the four months preceding the move drinking down the liquor cabinets. It was a herculean effort, made possible only with the help of friends and a party that I believe was written up in US Airways in-flight magazine.

At the end, I still had three cases of booze left. Called my cheesemonger buddy Zeke and told him to come and get it—but no cherry picking. Take it all or take nothing. He took it all with a smile.

Tiare said...

The last time i moved my booze was when i moved from one room to another within the apartment, here is a pic:

RumDood said...

Depends on how far and how much. I typically use the boxes that I bring home from the liquor store and I keep several on-hand at all times. If I'm going somewhere far with something expensive, I'll break out the old shipping materials.

I really want to have a box built for transporting booze and booze-related equipment to parties. Something with slots for bottles, and shelves/restraints for shaker, spoon, glassware, an area for citrus, flamethrower, self-destruct mechanism...

nerdling said...

When we moved the bar took up about ten boxes. Ten heavy, awkward, sloshy boxes. We lost a little bit of 4 Cops añejo due to a leaky cork, but otherwise all we lost was glassware. (I won't mention the glass of my great-grandmother's that was broken. RIP.)

We use a variation on the milk crate for storing our records, but I find they warp really easily if you put anything heavy in them. I generally tend to use the boxes from liquor stores, because Lord knows I always have those around.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion is use the wine tote and then slip it inside a milk crate when in the car for the trip. This off course will only work if the wine tote is small enough to actually fit inside the toat.

Anonymous said...

I meant crate not "toat" in that last sentence. Sorry I was distracted.

jefffrane said...

I moved a lot of bottles in November and it was a pain in the neck. Local liquor stores were helpful enough with boxes but most were useless -- no partitions, wrong size, all kinds of problems. One box I have kept because it is the best booze box ever in the universe. Thanks to Google, I even found a picture:

Super-sturdy, with an inner cardboard box and a lid that sits above the bottles. Never had the vodka (not a fan) but the box is awesome.

Dr. Bamboo said...

Vern- At least you saved the Bailey's. Hopefully you didn't drop the box containing the ice;-)

Nathan- Really good idea. And can I borrow that car next time I'm going to Ohio?

Matthew- I think everyone should be fortunate enough to know a cheesemonger named Zeke.

Tiare- awesome pic. That's about how organized MY liquor closet is too.

Dood- Lemme know when you're at the prototype stage.

Marleigh- Yeah, those liquor store boxes always seem to be lying around. Or maybe that's just a problem for us booze nerds. :-)

Wendy- GREAT idea. Now I have to stock up on wine totes.

Jeff- That is some serious packaging! I wonder if they're still using it?

Anonymous said...

i forgot where i was but i saw someone with a garbage bag lookin thing on their back with a butt load of empty bottles and it they looked just like that cartoon drawing! haha

Anonymous said...

That milk crate drawing is awesome. Good job. Steal them, but from where? What about a giant metal pail filled with ice. Not very practical, but you'd look pretty hard core carrying it around.

Anonymous said...

There are some shoes with a pouch in the sole to carry liquor.

Nappi said...

For a buddies birthday party a friend and I covertly moved about $200 worth of various liquor and beer in duffel-bags and backpacks 150-ish miles by train and foot to Richmond VA. No broken bottles but we nearly lost half the stash when a carrying strap broke as we crossed a street. Good times.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at a parts store and the boxes they use for bottles of antifreeze should work. They are divided (only into six though) and are VERY heavy duty, even when wet. Depending on the brand, most have the punch out handles on them.

Anonymous said...

Gloria, though you really shouldn't steal anything, if you look around the back of a Rite Aid they have them stacked up. I guess they don't have enough room inside for the empties.

kaiserpenguin said...

Craig, as usual, this post is absolutely genius. I love the intense comparisons!

Dr. Bamboo said...

Anonymous- I like that antifreeze box idea. I'll have to swing by the local aouto parts store and see what's doin'.

Nappi- That's a pretty epic haul! I'm amazed you didn't lose anything.

Gloria- Yeah, don't swipe 'em. You can buy "generic" ones many places.

Rick- Glad you liked it...although I probably think about stuff like this too much!

Justin said...

When I get specialty stuff in NYC thats unavailable in boston, i bring them in my man purse, wrapped in my change of clothes. that keeps them from clanking and looks perfectly innocent on the bolt bus.

Kelsey Crenshaw said...

I mive bottles every time I work, granted I have a large cart with wheels. I go up elevators, down stairs, ramps, through sand and over door jam after door jam with liquor that is not mine. Here's my list form best to worst.

1. a glass rack, you know the one hold 25 glasses for the dishwashing factor. preferably one that holds cheap short squat champagne glasses. It hods 25 liquor bottles, if they are all the same standard shape.

2. a bus tub. you know what bus boys use to clean tables. It holds 15 bottles of various standard shapes tightly, when in doubt use bar towels or the like to fill in the gaps.

3. an ice chest, sans lid.

4. a keep it frozen take to the grocery store bag. The ones that are padded with a zipper, they will hold about 12 bottles.

5. for a party down the block, a little tykes wagon holds, 45 bottles snug, I wish I had a picture to back this up. It was a great party for the block I live on.

good luck.

Dinah (MetaGrrrl) said...

We had such a successful transport experience coming back with loot from our last overseas trip that I'll definitely be looking to the rollaboard suitcases next time we need to transport more than 3 bottles.

Seems like a quick arrangement of towel-wrapped bottles inside a big plastic garbage bag to protect the suitcase from spills ought to do the trick.