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Paul Conrad/Aspen Times WeeklyBest Liquor Store: Grape & Grain

Logic dictates that a ski town would have many ski shops. Market forces dictate those shops be good at what they do. Still, someone has to be the best. According to our readers, that honor belongs to D&E. And while we’re sure the merchandise is outstanding, the service impeccable and the prices fair, we have to wonder if having Ink! Coffee (see Best Coffee Shop) in the front of the house has anything to do with their top finish in this category. Either way, congrats D&E. But beware, Aspen Sports and Pomeroy Sports are on your tail, coming in second and third respectively by just a few votes!

It is with great glee that Aspen Times’ readers cast their vote for best music venue. For a few years, there was no night-in, night-out place for music; the Belly Up filled that void – and then some. The Belly Up took this category by a landslide.The real question is, how would the Belly Up fare if the poll asked: What’s the best music venue in the country? OK, it’s a bit premature to put our local joint in the company of such seasoned spots as Boulder’s Fox Theatre, San Francisco’s Warfield and Fillmore, or even the original Belly Up in Solana Beach, Calif. Such venues have been made favorites by their long histories. But Michael Goldberg has shown his intention to play in the biggest league of rock clubs. In eight short months his Belly Up Aspen has hosted the Roots, Chris Isaak, Blues Traveler, Los Lobos and Lucinda Williams. The sound system can’t be beat, and neither can the overall experience.

Gary Plumley knows the booze business, and it shows – our readers named Of Grape & Grain the town’s top liquor store by more than a dozen votes. Having shopped there once (or two, or three, or … times), we can say that the guys over at the Grape & Grain have a knack for finding cheap wines that taste great. Of course, there are times when it’d be hard to argue with the reader who wrote that the best liquor store is “the closest one.”

Let’s face it: Most of us don’t just want a haircut when we go into a beauty salon. We want to be pampered, told we have great follicles, get a mini-scalp massage during the washing process. For all this and more, our readers chose Lather Salon as the best in Aspen with 18 votes. The runner-up was the Aspen Club Salon with 13. But Jeff Novak’s salon on Main Street is known for its friendly staff, Zen-like, minimalist atmosphere and their own line of hair products (in other words, you’ll never have to stand in the supermarket staring at bottles of shampoo again).

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