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June’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, heirloom Hawaiian sugar cane, Bill Harlan's Promontory, Lithuania's crackdown on booze and more.

Best Red Wines for Summer

Ancient heirloom sugar cane varieties have long been an integral aspect of Hawaiian food and drink culture, but development on the islands has pushed many of them to the brink of extinction. With a focus on the terroir of different canes, Manulele Distillers, makers of KōHana Agricole Rum, are stepping in with efforts aimed at cultivating and preserving what is not only a key ingredient in their rum, but a cultural symbol as well. [Munchies]

At Hudson Valley Brewery in Beacon, New York, owners Jason Synan and Mike Renganeschi are not so much focused on traditional brewing techniques as they are on blending. “The majority of the beer that we make isn’t intended to stand on its own,” says Synan. “It’s being brewed with the specific intent of being a blending component in a larger product.” It’s an unconventional approach to what has turned out a growing number of sour beers—averaging one new beer per week. [October]

Since 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, has been a fixture in national headlines; its water crisis has been so severe that a number of state-appointed officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Nonetheless, the founders of the aptly named Tenacity Brewing hope to change the conversation surrounding their home city. Opening amidst the scandal in 2015, the brewery has gone on to play a role in the revitalization effort taking place in downtown Flint, and seeks to restore optimism to the city as a whole. [Thrillist]

California’s Sante Adairius brewery, which has earned a cult-like following since it opened just five years ago, is anything but conventional; with the majority of their sales being direct-to-consumer purchases, they function more like a boutique winery than a traditional brewery. Esther Mobley talks with the owners about the growing demand for their beers—which is nearly impossible to meet—and the challenges of expansion while staying true to their brand. [San Francisco Chronicle]

In the past five years, the stigma surrounding alcohol in the “Bible Belt,” located in the rural southern United States, has started to lessen. And as young college-aged students return home with a taste for craft beer and spirits, lawmakers are becoming more lenient towards breweries and distilleries. [The Guardian]

In their parliamentary elections last year, Lithuania’s agrarian party triumphed, and party leader Ramunas Karbauskis became an especially important figure in the politics of the Baltic country. Known for his hyper-traditionalist views, Karbuaskis has guided his party to pass some of the strictest alcohol laws in Europe—much to the detriment of nightlife in Lithuania’s major cities. Vice checks in with the young, urban Lithuanians, who have recently been subject to raids and strip-searches at the hands of a government crackdown. [Vice]

At 76 years old, Bill Harlan of Napa’s Harlan and Bond is unveiling his latest project: Promontory, billed as the most “accessible” (which, in this case means $450 per bottle instead of $850 and up) of his estates, which includes the iconic Harlan Estate and BOND. Promontory will likely be the last project for Harlan, who made his name as one of the principal architects of the cult California cabernet. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Located on the southern tip of Scotland’s Isle of Islay, Ardbeg’s especially peaty whiskies have inspired a passionate following among Scotch drinkers. But just 20 years ago, the distillery’s future was uncertain; after years of neglect, it was in dire need of remedial work. As Ardbeg marks the 20th anniversary of its grand “resurrection” this June, Richard Woodard considers its past, and its agenda for the future. [Scotch Whisky]

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