March’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, we dug deep into the biggest bourbon heist in history, talked dive bars on TV, learned about the kava craze sweeping New York and more.

The agave distillate mezcal finds itself in a precarious position where demand will soon outpace supply of this distinctive Mexican spirit, the base plant of which takes a minimum of ten years to reach maturation. Dana Goodyear travels to Oaxaca in search of the humble roots and international rise of the latest rage in small-batch, artisanal spirits. [The New Yorker]

In the latest issue of Men’s Journal, Reeves Wiedeman traces the evolution of The Curtsinger Nine, a bourbon country Ocean’s Eleven, charting the criminal group’s activities from small-time thievery to the biggest whiskey heist in recent history. [Men’s Journal]

How does a small Scottish brewery become the fastest-growing drinks producer in Britain? Hint: It’s not the quality of the beer. Jon Henley chronicles the infuriating stunts, obsessive passion and maniacal marketing that have propelled BrewDog to the top of its industry. [The Guardian]

What distinguishes Suffolk Arms from the host of renowned watering holes where owner Giuseppe Gonzalez has made his mark is the simple fact that this one belongs to him. At the newly opened bar, Gonzalez imparts hat tips to his professional predecessors and peers in a thoughtful homage to the city’s history and eclectic drinking scene. [Grub Street]

Manhattan’s East Village is becoming the epicenter of a new, health-conscious New York. Meet Kavasutra, a booze-free bar in which patrons are asked to swap cava for kava, a drink formulated from the root of the South Pacific plant of the same name. The New Yorker explores the merits and mysteries of this non-alcoholic alternative. [The New Yorker]

Modernizing a pre-existing winery comes with a unique set of challenges, from orienting new vines to accommodate old ones to shifting irrigation methods to attracting visitors. Jennifer Fiedler offers a behind-the-scenes look at the obstacles facing Brecon Estate as the owners attempt to revitalize the rundown Paso Robles winery. [Imbibe]

Eli Zabar has built his reputation on a succession of successful culinary endeavors, including his Upper East Side food emporium, that have collectively become synonymous with classic New York City eating. Lesser-known is his interest in wine, evidenced by the wine lists at a few of his eateries and his personal collection, which showcases an impressive array of Burgundy, Barolo and northern Rhône wines steadily built up over the years. The New York Times walks us through the food titan’s wine cellar. [New York Times

Despite its small population of only 70,000 residents, the city of Bamberg, Germany, boasts a disproportionate amount of breweries and quality beer that is part geography, part miracle. Will Hawkes delves into what makes the historically rich drinking culture of this town such a haven for Bavarian beer. [The Washington Post]

In his latest series, Horace and Pete, comedian Louis C.K. succeeds where few other television shows have been able to: the accurate depiction of the dive bar. From the coffee pot on the back bar to the contempt for tourist invasions, Aaron Goldfarb zeros in on the elements that C.K. gets right about this breed of drinking institution. [First We Feast]

Tagged: longreads