May 29, 2012

Washington liquor sale prices – Safeway, Albertsons, QFC, TOP Foods, Costco

Starting June 1 liquor will be sold privately here in Washington – which means it will magically appear on your grocery store shelves and instead of going to a state liquor store you can now buy it from places like Safeway, Fred Meyer, Albertsons, Target, Costco  – well, pretty much anywhere. Going through the grocery ads today it was so strange to see liquor “sales” and pricing. I know not all of you purchase or partake in liquor but for those that do, I put together a list of the advertised prices as this new structure launches.

I have no idea what constitutes a “good deal” as I went to the state liquor stores about once a year – for random things like bourbon for a pecan pie. There were many news stories on the prices going up or down after June 1 – you’ll have to leave a comment and let me know what you think and point out if you think any of these deals seem extra special.

I don’t even know how to sort this, so I’m putting it by type of liquor for comparison sake.

Don’t forget the 20.5% state liquor tax and $3.77 per liter tax!


Platinum 7x Vodka 750 ml – $7.99 at TOP Foods
Smirnoff Vodka 750 ml – 
$10.19 at Safeway
Smirnoff Vodka 750 ml – $10.69 at Albertsons WYB 6 (mix and match)
Platinum 7x Vodka 1.75 ltr – $15.98 at Albertsons
Smirnoff Vodka, 1.75 liter – $19.59 at QFC
Ketel One Vodka, 750 ml – $19.59 at QFC
Grey Goose Vodka 750 ml – $22.99 at Safeway
Grey Goose Vodka 750 ml – $24.28 at Albertsons WYB 6 (mix and match)
Project V Single Silo Vodka 750 ml – $29.99 at TOP Foods
Ebb + Flow Vodka 750 ml – $29.99 at TOP Foods
Skyy Vodka 1.75 ltr – $31.98 at Albertsons 
Absolut Vodka, 1.75 liter – $33.99 at QFC


Tanqueray Gin 750 ml – $20.68 at Albertsons WYB 6 (mix and match)
Tangueray Gin 750 ml – 
$22.99 at Safeway
Ebb + Flow Gin 750 ml – $29.99 at TOP Foods
Tangueray Gin, 1.75 liter – $37.39 at QFC


Rich & Rare R&R Whiskey 1.75 liter – $10.19 at Safeway
Rich & Rare R&R Whiskey 1.75 liter – $12.99 at QFC
Rich & Rare Canadian Whiskey 1.75 liter – $14.98 at Albertsons
Canadian Mist Whiskey 750 ml – $13.29 at Safeway
Black Velvet Whiskey 1.75 liter – $15.09 at Safeway
Canadian Club Whiskey 750 ml – $15.28 at Albertsons WYB 6 (mix and match)
Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey 750 ml – $15.98 at Albertsons
Pendleton Whiskey 750 ml – $22.99 at QFC
Jameson Irish Whiskey 750 ml – $22.99 at QFC
Jameson  Irish Whisky 750 ml – $23.99 at Safeway
Crown Royal Whiskey 750 ml – $24.28 at Albertsons WYB 6 (mix and match)
Makers Mark Whiskey 750 ml – $31.98 at Albertsons
Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, 1.75 liter – $33.99 at QFC
Crown Royal, 1.75 liter – $45.39 at QFC


Jose Cuervo Tequila 750 ml – $13.29 at Safeway
Jose Cuevo Tequila 750 ml – $12.58 at Albertsons WYB 6 (mix and match)
Jose Cuervo Tequila Gold and Silver 750 ml – $13.99 at TOP Foods
Jose Cuervo Tequila 1.75 liter – $26.39 at QFC


Bacardi Rum 750 ml – $10.69 at Albertsons WYB 6 (mix and match)
Captain Morgan Rum 750 ml – $15.09 at Safeway
Captain Morgan Rum 750 ml – $15.99 at TOP Foods
Captain Morgan Run 1.75 liter – $26.39 at QFC


Skinnygirl cocktails 750 ml – $10.99 at Safeway
Skinnygirl margarita 750 ml – $10.99 at QFC

Don’t forget the 20.5% state liquor tax and $3.77 per liter tax! It will be interesting to see how these prices fluctuate and what kind of prices we should see at Costco, which many people seem think will have the best prices.

If you found this post through Google or other web search, welcome! I blog about all kinds of things here – including grocery deals, Costco sales/prices, online sales, printable coupons and more.

Here are the current deals for these stores:

You can also head over to the Queen Bee Coupons Facebook page – more than 18,000 folks, many in Washington. A great network for saving money and learning how to coupon.

What do you think about being able to buy liquor at the grocery store? What store do you think will have the best deals? I know this is a controversial topic – so share your opinions while respecting others, please!

Anyone scope out prices at Costco and want to share?


    Leave your comments here...


  1. Howie Lichter says:

    The state of WA is still making money off the liquor sales even more so today. Costcos push for privitization did NOT do consumers any favors. WA is saving money by not having to pay for employees, the medical and other insurance as well as the store rents. Further the state SOLD all the licenses and generated revenue. Even though the self price is less, at the register first comes a 20.5% tax and then the bottle tax, depending on the size up to $6.60. We should get Costco to put Preparation H on sale for screwing us consumers. I am sure that if Costco would have come clean on all the higher fees, the ballot would have been shot down. California prices are half price still without the high tax and bottle fees.

  2. I bought a bottle of liquor at Target yesterday, and all the taxes and fees, except for the regular state sales tax of 8.whatever%, was included in the price you see on the shelf.

  3. Just went to a locally owned liquor store and could not believe the wine selection. Great to see so many Washington wines in one location and the pricing was less expensive. I bought some booze and the price seemed to be close to the same after the state got it’s cut. All the private stores also carry something that state run stores never had “customer service.”

  4. Jennifer says:

    I don’t really care about the tax or any other political point of view. The only thing I am worried about is that it is now more accessible and just like with cigarettes we will now have to worry whether or not the cashier will card customers every time, we’ll have to wait in line longer for them to be carded and underage drinking/DUIs and deaths due to drunk driving are sure to increase.

    Also those kids who get a job as a cashier to help save for college might not be able to get the job as easily because most stores will be looking for those older than 21 who are able to sell alcohol so that they don’t have to get a manager whenever someone comes through their line with alcohol to purchase.

  5. Ugh. My favorite booze just got about 10 dollars more expensive. Glad I live in a state where the voters are educated. Welp, back to drinking lower shelf liquor with an inevitable hangover to follow…

    • Yes because it’s about $$’s, not about whether the government should or should not be doing something.

      Perhaps you should be demanding less taxes and lower spending by our government?

      That might be logical… but hey.. you are the educated one.

    • I won’t ask why you have one favorite bottle you always buy. Liquor to me is about exploring flavors. In any case, as already said, it was never about cost. We all knew that voting for private sales with a 20+% tax was going to have some sort of effect on cost. But predictions were mixed on whether the effect would be positive or negative. On this topic, the bottle of Sauza (tequila) I bought a the state store on Tuesday was $22 at QFC today. With tax it’s a substantial hike for that brand. Rum and vodka on the other hand appear to be substantially cheaper. So I’m paying a little bit more for some things and a whole lot less for others. As I slowly finish bottles over the coming months and go through a complete cycle of my bar stock, which typically takes about a year, I figure I will have saved some money. Also it may be that the prices we’re seeing right now will come down as competition heats up. And if that’s the case then there will be substantially lower costs for most customers in the future.

  6. wow i have been reading some of these posts, and honestly you all are a bunch of idiots. do any of you actually do the research or do you just listen to what the media spoon feeds you. I not only work for one of the company’s that sell liquor now i have looked into it. alcohol prices will be an average few bucks lower depending on the brand, YES even with the states taxes! then after 3 years when the state cant force the taxes the prices will drop dramatically.

    and on another note, state owned liquor stores didn’t provide that many jobs or even good bennifits, its the company’s like costco and safeway that are going to increase the job market and will feed families.

    • A bunch of idiots huh?

      My mother-in-law has worked for the Liquor Control Board for over 15 years and she’s now having to figure out how to pay out over 1500 people that have lost their jobs due to this bill.

      I have talked with other state employees that have buckled down jobs at private liquor stores and they are losing both income and benefits. The state has treated their employees better than most companies.

      Maybe you should educate yourself a little more before calling everyone an idiot that disagrees with you. Also, the sell price is lower, yes. Tack on the taxes and the majority of liquor in private stores is marginally higher.

      • 1500 government jobs are gone that never should have been there to begin with.

        Not to mention their wages were ridiculous for the job being done.

        “The state has treated their employees better than most companies.” — WITH OUR MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        The government only obtains money to pay for things by confiscating it from us.

        Of course you forget about the fact that there will be TONS of jobs created… Costco offered jobs to those who lost their jobs.. but that was a problem because they wouldn’t be getting their bloated government pay.

        The jig is up Shay… the government union stronghold on our economy is going to end one way or another.

      • Shay, I don’t condone jack’s “idiot” remark, it was callous and self-centered. But he is right. A government body should never be in the business of doing business. And you cannot hold the rights of 6.8 Million people hostage for the well being of a mere 1500. It’s not fair to tax payers, to shoppers, or to business owners. The reason I voted Yes is somewhat different. The state retention of liquor sales following prohibition constituted a form of social regulation that went far beyond mere taxes and legislation. It was, for lack of a better term, semi-prohibition. A nagging vestige of a shortsighted draconian law driven by “ban happy” religious fervor in early 1900’s. Ridding ourselves of it demonstrates positive social progress. A move toward more rational government and more consistency in how social regulation is handled by the state.

        Washington State Prohibition
        1919 – 2012

  7. Oh well, if the liquor prices go up I will just continue to go across the bridge to Rainier, OR to buy my booze. I’m sure the little liquor store in Rainier will like this. The convenience will be a lot better in WA now though even if the price is higher, until just recently the state 2 liquor stores in town would close up shop at 7:30 on weekdays and 9:30 on Saturday. Now there will be at least 10 places to go get liquor with a lot more convenient hours. It will also be nice not to have to make another stop if I want to pick some up and I am already at Walmart or Safeway.

  8. At my ex-local state store a 1.75 bottle of Capt. Morgan is $39.95. With the QFC advertised price of $26.39 + 20.5% + 3.7708 = $35.57 total. Unless I am missing something here…It is a little cheaper.

    I can say being I moved here less than a year ago, it was a shock compared to the $18-22 per bottle of the same sized Capt at Sam’s Club in California. At Safeway, I could by a 1.75 bottle of an actually better “generic” rum (King’s Bay) for $12.95! Unheard of here. At the same Safeway, Capt would be approx $26.95 (unless it was on sale for a holiday). Walmart was always a buck or two more than Sam’s but I am sure it all has to do with the volume they each buy that determines the price.

    There will inevitably be plenty of growing pains in this process and my hope is that prices will go down across the board. It will probably never be California prices tho…

  9. Kevin Danby says:

    I am curious to know if the new 17% “fee”, not a tax, is included in those prices. Consumers will have a heart attack at the register when they go to pay. Selection at Safeway et al will be way down as well. We have a medium sized contract liquor store and we currently have 22,000 bottles on hand and about 550 SKUs. Safeway etc. will have about 1/3 of that. Distributor prices will go up because of the new layer of distribution that has been created. In the past they dealt with one entity, shipped to one location in large volume. Now they have to call on 1400 stores and ship small orders to all of them. Young’s market is using Columbia Distributing reps to take orders so few additional jobs there.

    • Chelsea says:

      at the current moment the 17% fee is NOT included in the price…. the PRICE on the shelf is the price of the bottle, the tax and fees will add up at the register. A bottle of jameson that used to cost @$25 at the liquor store will not cost almost $35-37 at time of purchase. SUCKS, but it is what it is

    • The 17% fee is paid by the stores and IS included in the shelf price. That’s largely why the shelf prices aren’t going down much from the ‘retail prices’ at state stores.

      What is NOT included are the 20.5% liquor tax and the $3.77 liter tax.

    • Stores will sell what people want.

      That’s how the private sector works….

      As opposed to the government who makes choices for you.

      Just wanted to clear that up.

  10. Glad when all the hullahballoo boils over… and I can conveniently get what I need like other folks in other states already do so ! Aside from the this that or others… I am in all in one kinda shopper gal-dont have alot time as is- add a drive just for occasional booze bottle …huh! i am ready for convenience and willing to pay 🙂 Cheers everyone 🙂

  11. I’m glad the State is finally getting out of the retail sales business no matter what the product is. It’s not an appropriate governmental function. Regulation and licensing? Yes. Storefront retail sales? No.

  12. Yvonne Bush says:

    So the taxes that you see above were already written into the prices at the liquor store. The per liter tax will be $2.83 for a 750ml bottle and $6 pm a 1.75 liter bottle. And then there is the 20.4% state liquor tax. Our example they gave us about this the sale was $30 in liquor and there was $15 in taxes on this. The per liter tax is the same no mater how much the liter costs. So please do not get mad at your cashier over this as we have no control over this. They have told us that people will be mad and will try to argue about these taxes. There will be signs by the liquor that will explain this but I am guessing alot of people will not read these signs and they will think they are getting a great deal till they see their total on their receipt.
    How did you get these prices since most stores do not even have their liquor on their shelves yet?

    • karrie k says:

      The grocery adds I received today add the prices

    • I would like to see the stores include the taxes in the price and just show THAT price and say taxes inc. then there is less confusion!! (and i dont feel like im being shocked by the amt of tax)

      • No, they NEED to state why something costs what it is.

        Don’t you understand that without people KNOWING the INSANE amount of money they are paying in taxes for EVERY activity they do just allows them to continue to impose more and more hidden taxes?

        Taxes should be broken out on EVERY SINGLE BILL.

  13. very very bad idea. the state does not realize how much money they are really going to lose even with a 21% liquor tax. wait five years and OLY will be wanting even more money for education, health care, etc,etc,. watch for sales taxes to go up even more.

    • Scott, it wasnt up to the state, it was voted by a majority of voters! Also sales taxes dont pay for schools so nice try on that one.

  14. I’m already annoyed that my Safeway relocated PB&J to the other side of the store to make room for the hooch.

    Costco paid something like 18 million to get this bill passed so I’m going to bet they will have the most competitive prices to try and make their money back on volume. Currently, state liquor stores are closed Sundays and open/close at certain times, I’m guessing 24 hour grocery stores can sell round the clock? WOOHOO drunks on the road 24/7.

    • I fully agree on liquor in stores but I would not think they could sell it 24 hours as a day i’m sure its just like the beer and you have to stop selling it at 2AM.

      • opps that was suppose to say “I dont” fully agree on liquor in the store. I guess i should check before i push submit

        • Your comment is dumb. Of course they’re not going to sell it 24/7 and just because liquor stores close on Sundays and what not doesn’t mean no one drinks that day. And get over you having to walk to the other side of Safeway for freaking peanut butter. Negative people are such a drag. Just pick up a bottle and relax geeze.

          • Since I don’t drink I wasn’t aware that stores didn’t sell beer after 2AM, must be why I asked?

  15. According to the State Price Book list and adding in the taxes you cite this appears to be $3-7 cheaper per bottle on some of the vodkas I looked up. Jameson looks like it will be $1.52 more a bottle, will be interesting to see what Costco/Winco/Walmart prices will be. All else fails I will grab the rare bottle of Jameson in Idaho when I visit friends since I usually stick to beer.

  16. The people who voted yes for this are going to be crying in thier beer, because all hard liquor is going to be soooooo expensive!!!! Oh people…..what have you done?

    • Ummm….I hate to rain on your party ladies but I just did the math on my favorite rum and its NOT more expensive! Its actually slightly less. You will also see prices come down over the next few years becuase right now various distributors are price gauging and when the free market takes hold they will be pushed out by more reasonably priced distribution options.

      • Chelsea says:

        I hate to rain on your parade… Safeway’s prices are at least 10$ more than they were at the liquor store. I work there, and we’ve done all the math and all the scanning for it. So for the forseable 6months to a year.. I voted NO. I dont want to have to pay $10 more for a bottle when beer is cheaper.

        • Very selfish attitude you have there.

          Your decision on right and wrong when it comes to politics is what you pay for a bottle of rum?

          You wonder why our society is going downhill?

          And I was just at Safeway.. it wasn’t more expensive.

      • james unger says:

        WAKE UP PEOPLE! Total Wine and More, is cheaper then the former government (mob) liquor store prices. The free enterprise is working quicker then i would think, however i will be supporting Costco, for helping get rid of the government crime mobsters. Oh yeah, as my memory serves me correct, when we legalized the WA state lottery and gambling casinos our schools would be funded more then generously,ha! Vote those hypocritical dems out of office!

    • I won’t be crying at all.

      I could care less if it costs me more money or not, that wasn’t the point.

      The point is there is NO reason the government should be in the liquor business.

    I voted no. Liquor stores provided income for our state, and we just eliminated a huge chunk of needed $$ for schools and health care in the midst of the biggest budget cuts in history. Bad idea.

    • Maureen says:

      Agreed. Decent paying jobs with benefits gone forever. Minimum wage jobs replacing them. How does that help anything except the shareholders of big box stores? It will be strange to see liquor in the grocery stores, regardless of price.

    • It may have been bad for jobs (wholesalers added 550 or so jobs I think, but worse benefits, etc), but it wasn’t bad for the states bottom line. It looks like they will make even more money under this system.

      • And maybe they can use some of that money for the type of good jobs the government should be providing (teachers, police, firefighters, etc).

    • Yes, it does (did?) provide income. But wouldn’t a state run monopoly on the sale of automobiles also provide income? How about a monopoly on the sale of shoes? Lawn mowers? Heck, why not make every retail store become state owned and operated? Imagine all the income for the state? In fact, we could then refer to WA as the “Worker’s State”…and then we could address each other as “Comrade”.

      NO! the state has no business operating free enterprise, any more than referees in the NFL have any business passing and running the football. When organized crime ran the liquor wholesaling business during prohibition, displacing them with state operated stores probably made sense. Today, the mob no longer runs liquor sales…the need for the state in the middle has long passed…and the resistance we hear of today is the result of the state and its chosen contractors…who have all become quite comfortable with this arrangement…wailing under the threat of losing the gravy train and actually having to go out there and compete!! Imagine that!

    • Except that there are huge fees being imposed at all levels in order to make up the lost revenue. The state funding argument is 100% null and void.

    • Did you see the part where it says, “Don’t forget the 20.5% state liquor tax and $3.77 per liter tax”? The state still gets their cut.

      • I’m trying to figure the taxes. I went to Albertsons purchased 1.75 lt of vodka for $11.48. then was charged a liter tax (which i knew about) and was charged $6.60 why not the $3.77?. Then at the end of the receipt I was charged $2.35 for the state tax which I expected but how did they come up the the $6.60 charge?

        • Callie Bledsoe says:

          Because you bought a 1.75 liter bottle. The tax is per liter ie:the name…liter tax. If you had purchased a 750 ml bottle it would be less than $3.77.

    • Hate to break it to you but the same taxes you paid before are still being paid so how is it any different except now the state doesn’t have the expense of more overpaid government employees.

      Why should the government be in the liquor business?

    • Just to correct this, the state made a profit of liquor sales through taxes. They’re still collecting those taxes and an additional tax. Plus, they no longer have employee costs, store operating costs and overhead.

      The state is making more money now.

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