ST. CLAIR SHORES — Tony Batou knew alcohol was his passion back when he started his first retail location in 1995.

Batou, Owner of The Wine Garden, started developing his zeal for spirits right out of the gate at 21 years old.

“I went to a lot of beer tastings, wine tastings, liquor tastings,” he said. “Sometimes almost 40 or 50 a year, probably more.”

The original location of The Wine Garden was just four blocks south of the current address, located at 22425 Harper Ave. It was just a matter of time before Batou realized the need for a bigger location and more space.

“I knew this location would be great. March of 2015 will be five years,” he said. “I had the opportunity to buy it in 2008, renovate it and remodel it the way I wanted to.”

The former banquet hall now holds all of the beer, liquor and wine an enthusiast can dream of. Narrow aisles allow customers to weave in and out of huge stacks upon stacks of alcohol.

Gin, whiskey, bourbon, vodkas and other liquors can be found up front by the registers. Wines are in the middle section while the back coolers and shelves contain a beer lover’s dream, full of six packs, 22 ounce and 750 milliliter bottles galore. Michigan beers dominate the selection.

“My philosophy is to get great stuff,” Batou said. “It starts with the products.”

The Wine Garden also features a large selection of premium cigars, which typically go hand-in-hand with the beverages Batou offers. Batou not only painted the walls of the store himself, but he and a friend also constructed the humidor. It goes to show how much Batou’s passion shines through.

“I’m proud of what I do and I never believe in cutting corners,” he said.

Batou recently released a collaboration beer with Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, a small-batch imperial stout aged in Batou’s hand-selected Buffalo Trace barrels. The idea and release speak to Batou’s success in the business.

“I never want to quit,” he said. “I’m all about innovation.”

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery