Located in the Norwood neighborhood of Birmingham since 2018, LeNell’s Beverage Boutique offers both the novice drinker and aficionado an eclectic selection of everything needed to create a spirited — or spirit-free — cocktail worthy of celebration. Owner LeNell Camacho Santa Ana opened the first iteration of her boutique in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood in 2003, enjoying success until 2009 when she closed the shop and relocated to Mexico for two years. Now, she’s back home in Alabama, and business is once again booming.
“I specialize in out-of-the-ordinary, organic, small craft, women-owned and BIPOC-owned,” she remarked. “And that’s all I’ve ever done. My shop has been a boutique from the beginning — the first boutique liquor store in the country.”
Visit LeNell's, and you’ll find so much to choose from, you can expect to be there quite a while, taking in the ambience – including a clawfoot bathtub cleverly filled with gin, ornate shelving and a sparkling chandelier made of crystal— and chatting with helpful staff or LeNell herself. The 500-square-foot shop is a constant flurry of activity, including regulars perusing artistic displays, weekly tastings, excited newcomers and curious neighbors. LeNell, by the way, said she picked the Norwood neighborhood as her location for the same reasons she chose Red Hook in Brooklyn. “I had incredible neighborhood support; people appreciated that I invested where I did,” she said. “I chose Norwood for the same reasons: the tight-knit community, and because I believe in living where you invest.”
For this issue, LeNell shares a delicious cocktail that everyone can imbibe for a new year’s toast. Made with Lyre’s London Dry Spirit, Nikolaihof Elderflower Syrup, Fre Brut Sparkling Wine and zesty lemon, this refreshing. spirit-free Floral French 75 is perfect for 2022 and offers even more reasons to visit LeNell’s, clink your glass and savor a moment of community.
“We have a big American whiskey, bourbon and rye selection. We carry an eclectic spirit section from Mexico since I lived there. We’re selling wines that are sustainable, and so many things are certified organic,” she said. “And nothing is in the shop without my having tasted it. If it’s here, I have given it my stamp of approval.”
I am fascinated by the ritual of drinking and how we use it to connect with one another,” she added. “It feeds my soul.”
Spirit-Free Floral French 75
Courtesy of LeNell’s Beverage Boutique
1.5 ounces Lyre’s London Dry Spirit
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce Nikolaihof Elderflower Syrup
2 ounces Fre Brut Sparkling Wine
Shake all ingredients, except wine, with ice in a cocktail glass. Pour sparkling wine into a shaker. Strain into a tall glass filled with cracked ice.