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January’s Best Reads on Drinks and Drinking

Welcome to The PUNCHbowl, wherein we share our favorite long reads on all things drinks and nightlife. This month, why British pubs serve Thai food, Italy's nearly forgotten aperitivo liqueur and more.

As California enters its sixth year of record-breaking draught, and global warming compounds the threat facing the state’s vineyards, Jackson Family Wines has turned to a hybrid approach of old- and new-school methods to adapt. There, state-of-the-art irrigation systems and solar-powered weather stations operate alongside decidedly anachronistic pesticides: falcons and owls. As one of the largest family-owned wineries in the country, Jackson Family Wines’ efforts have paved the way for novel approaches to agriculture nationwide. [New York Times]

“Beer poptimism”—the notion that macro beer from the likes of Budweiser and Coors is as worthy of consideration as the double-hopped IPAs coveted by beer geeks—has been gaining momentum in recent years. As Big Beer garners the attention of celebrity chefs and craft brewers alike, who’ve touted its consistency and drinkability, Eater asks, “What comes after the beer snob?” [Eater]

Sunday roasts and mushy peas might be the typical fare at most British pubs, but a growing number are beginning to serve Thai food—an unlikely pairing with roots at one beloved Kensington institution. In Lucky Peach, Catherine Lamb traces the history of this unexpected combination. [Lucky Peach]

With Campari, Aperol and vermouth firmly cemented in the modern drinker’s lexicon, Giuseppe Gallo thinks the time is right to resurrect rosolio, a nearly forgotten Italian liqueur. Paying homage to the drink’s roots, Gallo’s interpretation of the obscure aperitivo, called Italicus, builds off of a historic recipe featuring entirely Italian ingredients. Munchies explores the inspiration behind recreating one of the oldest members of the aperitivi family. [Munchies]

Since the 1990s, Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery has been waging war against political correctness with its vulgar, often misogynistic beer labels; in fact, its most popular brew, Raging Bitch (which proclaims, “Remember, enjoying a RAGING BITCH, unleashed, untamed, unbridled—and in heat—is pure GONZO!!”), so incensed Michigan regulators that it was banned, having been deemed “detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the general public.” Nevertheless, Flying Dog and its CEO, Jim Caruso, continue to polarize the public with their brash beers, despite widespread protest and protracted legal battles. [Washingtonian]

While mezcal has experienced a meteoric rise in recent years, its smoother sibling, sotol, still flies largely under the radar. Traditionally flavored with anything from walnuts to marijuana to snake venom, the Mexican spirit boasts a rich history in its native state, Chihuahua. Roads & Kingdoms traces the trajectory of sotol, from its Prohibition-era popularity to near obscurity, and samples the overlooked liquor from the region’s largest producer. [Roads & Kingdoms]

With no comprehension of the language and no GPS navigation, one Nevada-based writer goes in search of shochu in Japan. There, at Izakaya High Spirit bar in Fujikawaguchiko, after countless hours and countless more missteps, Sarah Miller underscores the tonic qualities of the Japanese spirit. [The Awl]

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