Wallace Dry Goods Is the Main Line’s First Nonalcoholic Bottle Shop

Nonalcoholic beverages are Robin Cummiskey's passion. Now she's sharing them with the Main Line region at Wallace Dry Goods in Ardmore.

Robin Cummiskey is in her element as soon as an inquisitive customer walks past the front door of Wallace Dry Goods. Springing into action, Cummiskey guides her customers through everything the store has to offer, with enthusiasm radiating through her body language. This is a gift she wants to share with the world.

Wallace Dry Goods is not a typical liquor store, though it might seem like it upon first glance. Whiskeys, wines, gins, mixers and more line shelves while a beer pong table stacked high with Guinness is tucked away neatly in a display corner. Before learning what sets Wallace Dry Goods apart, the smell the storefront lacks is what gives the operation away.

Cummiskey’s shop doesn’t smell like a typical liquor store because it doesn’t carry any liquor. Uniquely, every beverage sold here is nonalcoholic. That doesn’t mean it’s for children, though, all customers still must be over the age of 21, and it’s a distinctly adult experience.

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One of many liquor shelves at Wallace Dry Goods stocked witha variety of alcohol free liquors.
One of many liquor shelves at Wallace Dry Goods stocked with a variety of alcohol-free liquors.

There are no sodas sold at Wallace Dry Goods, or fruity lemonades for that matter. The liquors here are the same as the ones you’ll find at any bottle shop around the Main Line; they’re just absent of that one key ingredient.

Cummiskey is adamant that nonalcoholic beverages should be tailored to individual preference. Just because you’re shopping at a dry liquor store doesn’t mean you need to be entirely sober. She’s sure many of her customers aren’t, and she doesn’t expect them to be either. Instead, Cummiskey aims to give her patrons the “full drinking experience” whether or not they choose to enjoy alcohol.

“We have everything here that you need to build a drink for yourself. We have spirits, we have mixers, we have bitters, syrups, barware, glassware. And that’s because I want people who are not drinking to have all the same tools at their disposal,” Cummiskey says. In fact, it’s the core tenet of her business.

As she explains, when she goes out to a restaurant and orders a nonalcoholic margarita, she doesn’t want to be treated like a child. Too many restaurants serve alcohol-free drinks in a plastic cup just because it’s missing that one ingredient. She notes that sober and sober-curious individuals should be treated just like everybody else, with their decisions about whether or not to drink fully respected.

Having the option to choose is a idea vital to the concept of Wallace Dry Goods.
Having the option to choose is a idea vital to the concept of Wallace Dry Goods.

“I want the full experience if I order a margarita. Give it to me in the same glass that you would give an adult margarita,” Cummiskey explains. Because at the end of the day sometimes it translates to, ‘If there’s no alcohol, it’s just for children.’ I’m just an adult who chooses not to drink.”

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And while she and millions of others like her do make that choice to avoid alcohol, Cummiskey makes it clear that nonalcoholic drinks aren’t just for sober individuals. You could choose to have a nonalcoholic cocktail or beer after a long night out at the bar before heading home or getting in the car. You can make your favorite cocktail with one part whiskey and one part nonalcoholic liquor. Having the option to choose is the idea behind Wallace Dry Goods, which aims to give individuals agency and the opportunity to have flexibility within their lifestyle.

Notably, it’s something the world is waking up to as well. As of May 2023, JetBlue signed a deal with Athletic Brewing Company to offer nonalcoholic beer on its flights. Cummiskey has a supermarket-style fridge at Wallace Dry Goods stocked with every type of nonalcoholic beer imaginable, inducing Athletic Brewing.

Cummiskey carries non-alcoholic beer from all the same companies you'd find at a typical bottle shop.
Cummiskey carries nonalcoholic beer from all the same companies you’d find at a typical bottle shop.

These brews aren’t the St. Pauli Girl nonalcoholic stuff your uncle used to drink either. Instead, they are the same craft beers brewing companies offer to all their regular customers. As technology has advanced, brewers are able to boil off the naturally occurring alcohol from their products using vacuum sealers. The resulting products are alcohol-free libations that taste just as good as the alcohol-containing stuff.

The same process is used for the wines Cummiskey sells at Wallace Dry Goods. That being said, for many of the typically higher-proof liquors, the technology just isn’t at the same level.

“It depends on the product, [but] some of it is just using water, herbs and spices to mimic the flavors that you get from traditional alcohol,” Cummiskey explains.

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Saint Viviana Sauvignon Blanc
Non-alcoholic wines make for great pairings with cheese and fruit.

The whiskeys and gins, for example, don’t taste exactly like their alcoholic counterparts if served on the rocks. When mixed into a cocktail, however, it’s a different story.

“You need them in the context of a drink…but you can make an Old Fashioned, you can make a Manhattan. It makes a really good margarita or something as simple as a whiskey Coke or tequila and Fresca,” Cummiskey adds.

As the backbone of a mixed drink, the faux liquors bring mixers together to create a symphonic cocktail of flavor. Though Cummiskey claims no formal background in mixology, her nonalcoholic handmade drinks stimulate the same taste buds any professional bartender would be proud to reach.

@mainlinetoday Check out Walkace Dry Goods, the Main Line region’s first enturely non-Alcoholic bottle shop in Ardmore! #fyp #fypシ #sober #viral #nonalcoholicdrink ♬ Reflections on 52nd – AGM3

With classes from established mixologists Jesse “Mr. Zero Proof” Andreozzi and Nikki Graziano of Bar Palmina at Wallace Dry Goods, Cummiskey has integrated both herself and her business into the community.

The enthusiasm she brings to the project is unmatched. The space is light and airy as customers walk into the welcoming atmosphere. There’s no sense of superiority from Cummiskey as she explains each product and how it’s best used. She tailors the experience to her customers’ needs.

Taking a sip of the nonalcoholic lifestyle shouldn’t be intimidating, whether that’s for one drink, one evening, one month or one lifetime. Cummiskey lays down that path of sobriety for her customers, brick by brick, and it’s up to each individual how long they choose to walk that road.

Wallace Dry Goods
1 W Lancaster Ave, Ardmore

Related: This Juicy Berry Jawn Cocktail Is Alcohol-Free and Completely Delicious

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