A newsletter for the industry pro (or aspiring pro).

No More Three-Martini Nights, and Other Drinking Resolutions

Eating and drinking for a living is fraught with all sorts of hazards. Like Fireball-Rumchata cocktails. And generally overdoing it. A handful of professionals look back at 2016 to determine what they absolutely won't (and will) do again.

Champagne Corks

There is no experience more human than looking back on a year that’s nearing close of business and realizing you accomplished precisely none of the goals you made for yourself at its outset.

Let’s use myself as an example, even though I’m sure my proclivities don’t reflect the better-behaved portions of our noble populace. Last year around this time, I promised to “work on changing my default reaction from ‘SHOTS!!!’ to ‘…shots?’” Though some of my most painful transgressions were work-related (and therefore tax-deductible), I definitely did not adhere to this health-preserving edict. I never really execute any New Year’s resolution. Do any of us?

Miserable success rate notwithstanding, setting a fresh plan to coincide with a fresh calendar does have value as a reflective exercise. It helps us identify what we want to improve about ourselves, and even if we never achieve this improvement, it’s reassuring, in a junk psychology kind of way. It’s nearly January… commence the cavalcade of introspective but ultimately empty promises!

This year, as we have in years past, we’ve reached out to friends of PUNCH—mostly pros in the food and beverage industries—to see what drinking-related resolutions they’ve cultivated for themselves for 2017. Considering the many miserable occurrences pockmarking 2016, you’d think America’s most skilled drinkers would solemnly vow to just keep drinking. Instead, we received a surprisingly diverse set of aspirational objectives via our panel—from promises of heightened temperance to vows to expand palates, and personal philosophies, beyond their cushy safe spaces and into the liquid unknown.

As for me? I’m still willing to consider doing fewer shots, right after I finish these.

Garrett Oliver | Brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery

In 2017, I will stop trading jabs with wine pros who say things like, “Brett comes from dirty winemaking.” True, they know nothing about the science, and true, they believe in “terroir without biology,” but whatever. Enjoy your “Davis juice,” boys—I can’t see it from my house. In 2017, I will drink more beer and less wine. If a man isn’t careful, beer = work, and the way to the dark side this is. In 2017, I will throw out 35 percent of my liquor bottles, many of which are filled with odd things I’ll never drink. I may first combine them to make a truly evil punch, though. And finally, I will learn how to make two new cocktails in a credible and efficient manner. And drink them both in the mountains and at the sea. And smuggle them onto airplanes. And I will not get caught.

Dale Talde | Chef/Partner, Three Kings Restaurant Group

I’m trying to lose weight all the time, but if I’m trying to do something in the New Year, it would be to stop drinking the bougie shit and try to keep drinking more shitty tequila.

Nicolas Palazzi | Importer, PM Spirits

The main thing I am constantly telling myself is that I should de-complex the way I drink and just pay more attention. Pay more attention to the moment, more attention to the people I am with, if any, when drinking. There is no need for a PhD, no right or wrong, no appropriate setting, nothing one should be drinking or not be drinking, no special glassware, no rule. Water? Ice? Snifter? Plastic cup? Pinky up? Who gives a fuck? I do a bunch of seminars and tell people: “Just know what you like and how you like it and drink that, however it is you feel is best/most enjoyable for you.” I see myself frequently not abiding by this principle. I shall change that.

Joe Beddia | Owner/Pizzaiolo, Pizzeria Beddia; Author, Pizza Camp

First of all, no more beer. It makes me feel like shit. I’m about to turn 40. I’m a wine guy from here on out. Also, trying to drop consumption by 25 percent, before someone tries to pull off one of those interventions.

Charlie Hall | Drummer, The War on Drugs; Home Cocktail Enthusiast

My resolution for 2017 is pretty simple. There are two things that I never really seem to have at home—mezcal and Chartreuse. I plan to mess with both of these a lot more in 2017. Also, lately I’ve found that there is literally nothing that isn’t great with fresh-squeezed grapefruit, so I wanna continue to to see if I can prove that thesis wrong. (I don’t think I will.)

Lizzie Munro | Associate Editor, PUNCH

Since starting at PUNCH, I’ve been sworn to secrecy over the fact that I make lousy cocktails, which isn’t a huge surprise given that for most of my adult life my at-home drinking strategy has been, roughly, Remove Cork from Bottle. I’d like to change that in 2017: invest in better barware, learn to manipulate egg whites like a boss—you know, grown-up, professional stuff like that. In addition, I aim to become a regular at a new, local bar near my apartment (exact location TBD), where I will spend the better part of winter. And I don’t care how lowbrow this is, but I haven’t had an unlimited mimosa brunch in probably nine months, so I’d like to fix that in early 2017, too.

Sierra Tishgart | Senior Editor, Grub Street

In 2017, I resolve to select my karaoke choices before I start drinking. Turns out, performing both parts of “Always on Time” is not easy, and I am a truly terrible rapper.

Ezra Star | General Manager, Drink

In 2017, I am resolving myself to explore more spirit categories. I will taste as many apricot liqueurs as I can get my hands on. I will taste through the weirdest local handmade craft gin produced from sugar but made with buckwheat, even if I think it sounds stupid. I will try the newest trend in mezcal that is made in Colorado from a plant that is most likely smokable. I will try the newest premium spirit to come from Canada, even if it’s made on the same stills they use to refine oil. Finally, I will try to drink more things with more friends, and hope that by doing this I learn to like the unexpected.

Talia Baiocchi | Editor in Chief, PUNCH

Will 2017 finally be the year that I realize, once and for all, that the nightcap is not for me? By the time anyone asks if I want a nightcap, chances are we’re probably already well past the point of needing one. I also vow, from here on out, to only have a Sauvage Martini after I’ve eaten at least one entire pizza or two hamburgers. Not sure what’s up with that delicious drink, but it takes me down every time.

Carrie Allan | Spirits Columnist, The Washington Post

I resolve to finally bite the bullet and buy myself a bottle of V.E.P. green Chartreuse, so I’ll have something to snuggle and whisper sweet nothings to. I will no longer allow myself to feel guilty about not liking Aviations. I don’t care if they’re old-timey and elegant. Also, in 2017, I’m determined that when I tell my beer buddies, “OK, I’ll split a last pint with you,” I will insist that I actually receive a halfsie instead of a nearly fullsie pretending to be a halfsie, and to find out the ABV on the IPA in that “halfsie” before drinking it.

Franky Marshall | Beverage Director, Le Boudoir

I hope to do more drinking at the source: visiting the places where liquids come from, seeing how they’re made and learning about them. And I am going to keep on tasting everything—it’s all research, dahling.

Chloe Frechette | Assistant Editor, PUNCH

In 2017 I vow to avoid the following situation: Think my date is joking when he says he doesn’t drink, then take him to my favorite bar and get through two Martinis before realizing he’s only had a coffee. I’m still single.

Apart from not doing that again, I’d like to master the at-home Martini. Somehow it’s never as good when I make it myself.

Micah Melton | Beverage Director, The Aviary

I guess my resolution would be to drink more low-ABV or no-ABV. Also, substituting drinking Chartreuse instead of taking pharmaceutical medicine: It feels more natural to take an ounce instead of popping some pills. Stomach pain? Chartreuse. Headache? Chartreuse. Anxiety? Chartreuse. Poison ivy? Liberally apply Chartreuse. Heartburn? It’s probably from Chartreuse. Maybe another shot will cure it.

Megan Krigbaum | Contributing Editor, PUNCH

A bowl of popcorn is not dinner. A bowl of popcorn is not dinner. I’m not 23 anymore and a bowl of popcorn is not dinner. I’ve learned the hard way this year that if I’m going to tie one on, it really behooves me to have something in my stomach before I get going. Related: While in South Africa this fall, a smart woman told to take one activated charcoal pill before a night of drinking and one before bed. She promised I’d wake up feeling good as ever. Need to hit the vitamin store. 

Alan Sytsma | Food Editor, NYmag.com / Grub Street

My resolution and goal are one in the same: to find a few reliable go-to bottles of wine that hit the sweet spot between “affordable” and “good.” There really isn’t as much overlap there as you’d think—trust me, I’ve looked, and a few bottles of seemingly affordable cloudy pét-nat from the Czech Republic tend to add up quick—and my wife will be forever grateful if I abandon my not-at-all ironic love of super-cheap shit that’s usually sold in jugs.

Jon Bonné | Senior Contributing Editor, PUNCH

More mezcal. More Chartreuse. More ?? because 2017 needs all the help it can get.

Lindsey Tramuta | Blogger, Lost In Cheeseland; Author, The New Paris

I’m simply not an avid cocktail drinker and need to stop forcing myself to love them, as though somehow I’ll be a lesser bon vivant, or unhip, because I don’t adore the experience. What I do enjoy is the cocktail bar environment. Also, I’ve resolved to take everything I learned from a trip through Champagne over the summer and put it to use.

Allison Hamlin | Social Media Editor, PUNCH

First, the usual ones: In 2017, I vow to spread an entire year’s worth of Martini drinking over more than three intensely sloppy nights. I will stop treating La Croix as a replacement for real water. I will bring more baller wines to BYOB restaurants. I promise to use jiggers like a real grown-up. I will do my absolute best to refill ice cube trays.

And lastly—while it is funny to buy a 3.5L box of Fireball and a bottle of Rumchata at the suggestion of a New Jersey liquor store employee, drinking cinnamon-cereal-milk-meets-antifreeze-hangover-inducing swill is neither fun, nor healthy nor dignified. I’m only saying this because it happened to a friend, and I’m preemptively resolving against it in 2017.

Brian Strumke | Brewer, Stillwater Artisanal Ales

In 2017, I will most likely delve deeper into the world of natural and sparkling dry wines. I love the funky nature and often abstract representation they provide of the fruit within. On the beer side: dry, wild-fermented hoppy brews, maybe even with some fruit juices added to the fermentation. Why not? This is the year to recognize acid and its overlooked subtle complexities.

Bianca Prum | Managing Editor, PUNCH

In 2017, I resolve to never again try to saber a Champagne bottle with an iron… or curling wand (while plugged in). I resolve to go back to my regularly scheduled programming of not celebrating Halloween, because it only ever ends in trouble. I resolve to invest in a few wines to save for later, now that I know how to do it. I resolve to, more often, order the two drinks I actually want when I sidle up to a bar: rhum agricole Daiquiri and Old Raj gin Martini. And I resolve to never again have more than two Martinis in one sitting, like I did this past Halloween.

Shit Food Blogger | @shitfoodblogger

In 2016, a friend bought me a very expensive cocktail at a José Andrés restaurant, and it was wonderful because it was aged in a leather bag so that the alcohol can mellow and soften and it was so very good and it made me begin to imagine myself as the kind of person who had a leather bag to age my cocktails and I could have friends over to my house and serve them this cocktail and I would surprise them and say, “This was aged in a leather bag,” and they would nod and smile and we would talk about how interesting I am because of my leather bag, but then I realized that I would start to be referred to as “that leather bag guy” and that after a while people would find it less interesting and I might pigeonhole myself and now I no longer view myself as the kind of person who would own a leather bag for my cocktails.

In 2017, I will find out the name of the cocktail and where I can buy a leather bag to make it.

Answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.

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