In February 2023, the newest location of H&H Beverage opened on Denali Drive. It is a showstopper. Built by Kyle Paul, and designed by Paul and H&H owner John Hurd, this store feels like an upscale boutique but with a large selection. When guests walk in, the first thing they will notice is the beautiful maple cabinetry and exciting displays of bourbon barrels, a Shiner Bock motorcycle, and the iconic Budweiser Clydesdale. The aisles are roomy and comfortable. Looking up, they will see an extension of the maple in the exquisite ceiling. Neon signs hang in the vaulted entryway. The organization of the liquors is easy to follow, with metal lettering made by local craftsman, Jim Bailey. Bailey also crafted the beautiful cedar tables that Hurd uses for tastings.
John Hurd grew up in Arlington, TX and studied at Texas A&M where he was in the Corps of Cadets. He signed on with the military, but because of cutbacks, had to pursue something different. This shift brought him to Abilene where he worked for Abuelo’s for twenty years, moving up in the company to regional partnership and moving on to places like Phoenix and Myrtle Beach, opening new stores all along the way. After twenty years, Hurd was ready for a change and to be closer to family again.
Hurd took over ownership of H&H in August of 2016. There were three stores back then – Loop 351, Rebecca Lane, and one on South 14th. Hurd started the process of rebuilding the stores. “That’s what I’ve always done,” said Hurd, “I go in and take over things and start new restaurants, like I did with Abuelo’s.” During that process, Hurd closed the South 14th location and focused on Loop 351 and Rebecca Lane. This is where Hurd grew in knowledge about the trends of alcohol, from 2016-2022.
“Wine was huge in the 90’s and early 2000’s, and then it switched,” Hurd explained. Wine shifted to grocery stores. H&H still stocks quite a bit of wine, but it only accounts for about one percent of sales. With wine almost out of the picture, Hurd opened his focus to the craze starting in 2005 – bourbon.
Hurd knew bourbon, and he saw the trends. He became somewhat of an expert by watching reviews, going to trade shows, and learning from others. Soon, the Rebecca store became one of the bourbon hubs of Texas. “I was attracting people from Seattle to Chicago to New York to Miami,” Hurd said. “Part of my passion is to go out and find bottles for other people.” The shelves boast of rare liquors like Japanese whiskeys and Very Olde Saint Nick bourbon, which only recently became available in the United States.
On Yelp, people all over the United States have left glowing reviews. Dylan F. from Seattle, Washington says this about John Hurd: “Literally the best selection of whiskey I’ve ever come across. John (owner) somehow gets rare bourbons I haven’t been able to find anywhere (and I’ve been looking). [This is] a rare gem of a liquor store I wish I had in Seattle.” This friendliness and attention to education has helped Hurd create a name for himself in this business.
Opening the store on Denali Drive is the result of growth and opportunity. From Hurd’s experiences in Phoenix, he gained an eye for modern architecture and design. Working with Kyle Paul on his own custom home after living modestly for many years has opened his eyes to the reality of bringing this aesthetic to H&H Beverage.
With this stunning building, Hurd has goals of giving customers a diverse shopping experience in a comfortable and beautiful location. This spacious store has room to grow. One trend is to create several exclusively bottled store picks from a single barrel of bourbon. Hurd already has ten barrels on the way. And he and his team are always available to answer questions and educate others. “Liquor stores can be intimidating,” Hurd acknowledges, “and in years past, they’ve had bad reputations. So I love that this is a comfortable place for people to come.” Hurd and his team are available to all customers – from those looking for rum for a special recipe or those looking for a rare bottle of bourbon to expand their liquor collections at home. All are welcome.
By Laura Daulton