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February’s Best Reads On Drinks and Drinking

Welcome to The PUNCHbowl, a monthly installment where we share our favorite long reads on all things drinks and nightlife. This month, drinking through every brewery in a single state, tips on maintaining a successful nightclub, our millennia-long relationship with booze and more.

Off the coast of Nova Scotia, the remote Sober Island is home to fifty year-round residents and a third-generation oyster farmer who has, for decades, been aligning his brand with the Sober Island name. But when an entrepreneur decided to open the island’s first brewery with a flagship oyster stout, what seems like an ideal partnership deteriorated into a turf war embroiling the entire town. [Narratively]

Since 2011, mezcal production has nearly doubled, with foreign markets taking a greater interest in tequila’s smokier sibling. However, the pressure of increased global demand on the largely informal industry has taken a toll on Mexico’s agave supply, which now faces an uncertain future. Alec Jacobson delves into the creative approaches farmers have taken to maximize return on a dwindling resource. [National Geographic]

At London’s Dandelyan, owner Ryan Chetiyawardana uses the latest drink menu to explore the fine line between plants that are tonics and those that are toxins. Johanna Derry spends an afternoon in London with Chetiyawardana and Nick Bailey, head gardener of the Chelsea Physic Garden, to discuss how modern botany informs these drinks. [Munchies]

With a record-setting ABV of between 28 and 30 percent, Samuel Adams Utopias was revolutionary when released in 2002, and remains a sought-after beer to this day. Aaron Goldfarb on the history and singularity of this port-like beer. [October]

Eight out of every ten nightclubs fail within their first year of operation, which underscores the achievement of Ronnie Madra and Richie Akiva, owners of 1OAK, who have maintained their fashionable New York nightclub for 10 years—even opening new outposts in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. From building brand identity to generating good will within the industry, Madra and Akiva outline the key to their success. [Bloomberg]

While booze was outright banned in the Magic Kingdom prior to 2012, over the past several years the Disney theme park has quietly rolled out more venues serving alcoholic beverages. In Roads & Kingdoms, a former “cast member” offers a comprehensive guide to drinking at Disney World. [Roads & Kingdoms]

One beer-writer attempts to drink at every brewery in a single state in a single day, simply to see if it can be done. Wisely picking Rhode Island, Aaron Goldfarb drinks a flight at each of the state’s 16 breweries and documents the journey for Esquire. [Esquire]

Historical studies have long posited that alcohol is a by-product of civilization rather than the other way around. A new school of thought, however, suggests that the production of alcoholic beverages—which is unique to humans—has been crucial to the development of arts, language and religion throughout history. In National Geographic, Andrew Curry outlines our millennia-long relationship with booze. [National Geographic]

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