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July’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: The demise of the session IPA, the story of the Tom Collins, the future of Britain's iconic pubs and more.

New England IPA

In Prohibition-era America, Roy Olmstead was a household name. Known as “the good bootlegger” for his eschewal of the more sordid aspects of his profession, Olmstead was nonetheless convicted by the Supreme Court in 1928. Centering on evidence gleaned from a tapped phone line, the case has since become a landmark in the ongoing debate over privacy in the U.S. [The New Yorker]

In Manchester, England, postwar estate pubs—those designed to serve the residents of nearby tower blocks—have long been viewed as the anchor of a community. The ability of supermarkets to provide cheap beer and the rising real estate value of these sites, however, has threatened their continued existence. The Guardian considers the uncertain future facing these social hubs and the vanishing values that they represent. [The Guardian]

As beer drinkers seek to buy directly from the source, sales at breweries and taprooms have increased by 500 percent since 2010. For so-called “gypsy brewers”—those that sublet equipment from established facilities—the dilemma over whether to invest in the high overhead costs of building their own brewery or face the taboo of brewing off-site at a lower cost has yielded a number of alternative solutions. [The New York Times]

Despite the market boasting a large number of low-ABV beers, Joshua Bernstein declares the session IPA to be dead. It’s a bold claim, one that reflects not the decline of the category, but the arrival of a new way of positioning low-octane beers in a marketplace saturated by sessionable brews. [October]

As a longtime fixture behind the bar at London’s Prince of Wales Coffee House, John Collin served his famous punch—a mixture of gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water—to a large swatch of the city’s population in the 1800s. The proprietary recipe spread quickly beyond the city limits, eventually crossing the Atlantic where it became known as the Tom Collins. David Wondrich on the evolution of this early cooler, from the John Collins to the Tom Collins. [The Daily Beast]

When Alexander Chee first tried gin, he wound up bedridden for an entire day, sparking a distinct hatred for the spirit. In this nonfiction essay, he takes the reader on his “gin pilgrimage,” in which gin becomes the one constant in his life no matter where he goes. From waiting tables in Manhattan to teaching at Amherst to traveling through Asia and Europe, gin remains a steady companion that he not only learned to appreciate, but has learned to love and respect. [Tin House]

Is the craft cocktail revolution is over? Kevin Alexander argues that, inundated with new bars, the industry faces a dearth of innovative and original ideas. Should this be a cause for concern, or should it be embraced as the new era of the cocktail? [Thrillist]

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Tagged: longreads