Flask Fine Wines in Studio City is under new ownership and getting a total makeover in the hands of its new owner, Peter Jarjour. Jarjour is already known for his first shop, Valley Beverage Company in Sherman Oaks. For the past seven years he's been turning that shop into one of the best places to buy craft beer in the Los Angeles area.
Last October, while looking for wine racks, Jarjour stumbled across a listing on Craigslist for the sale of Flask Fine Wines. So instead of the wine racks, Jarjour bought a wine store. He closed the shop for just one week in November; it's been opened since, though the store is still a work in progress. Renamed Flask Fine Wine & Whisky the store already has a fresh coat of paint and new hardwood floors, plus lots more inventory. But not just any inventory.
"Anybody can look through a catalog and order a bunch of beer or wine," Jarjour says. "You can have a big craft beer selection, but that's not what makes you a great craft beer shop."
Building relationships with breweries to acquire special releases, removing product that's no longer fresh, and helping to build a knowledgeable consumer base are some of the strategies Jarjour has used at Valley Beverage Company to set the store apart. Now he's bringing the same standards to Flask for wine and whiskey.
When it came time to order the whiskey for his new store, Jarjour thought it would be faster and easier, not to mention more fun, to fly to Kentucky himself and hand select the best product. At Four Roses distillery, Jarjour met with master distiller Jim Rutledge to taste single barrels of bourbon that aren't blended into the usual mix for bottling. (After evaporation, Jarjour only got 154 bottles from the barrel he selected.)
In addition to whiskey and wine, Jarjour has a small but mighty selection of craft beer at Flask. He plans to install beer taps at the store and believes that with the right selections many wine fans can become beer fans and vice versa.
Grant Wheeler, Jarjour's buyer, describes them both as "beer and wine nerds," and said they've seen their interests move from maligned to mainstream now that trends have changed and "if you like wizards or whiskey, suddenly you're a cool kid."
Their passion makes both Jarjour and Wheeler alcohol ambassadors to those who haven't had the time to do all the research and palate developing themselves. Jarjour is happy to discuss everything from the evolution of a wine's label to his personal recommendations, like the François Villard Condrieu for a great white wine this summer. He's often ready with advice for his customers: "Don't let your boyfriend call Feminist a girly beer just because of the name and the flowers - it's a great beer." (The tasty tripel from Monkish Brewing Co. in Torrance is brewed with hibiscus flowers.)
At Valley Beverage Co., Jarjour carries many local and rare beers, including all eight original beers from Mammoth Brewing Company, which the guys drive into the mountains to pick up since the brewery doesn't yet distribute.
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Jarjour and Wheeler love to share bottles they're excited about and educate visitors about them, without the intimidation and pretension that often accompanies wine discussion. "It's grape juice, it's made by farmers and it's delicious," says Wheeler, "and if you can't get down with any of those three things, we probably won't be super fast friends."
At his new shop, Jarjour is still finishing the store and bar remodel, after which he will host a celebration event. All events are announced via the store's Facebook page. Jarjour is already offering tastings twice a week at Flask, every Thursday and Saturday evening.