September’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 revival of Old Overholt, the oldest winemaking country in the world, Detroit's cocktail ascendancy and more.

Best Articles September 2016

In 2007, archaeologists in Armenia unearthed the world’s oldest known winemaking operation. The cave complex, known as Areni-1, houses 6,100-year-old fermenting vats, grape presses and clay storage vessels, hinting at an expansive history of making wine. The discovery comes as the nation’s modern wine culture is just starting to take off, putting Armenia in the unique position of being among both the oldest and newest winemaking countries in the world. [Saveur]

With a lineage that spans more than two centuries, Old Overholt is America’s oldest continuously running whiskey brand—but its impressive heritage is pocked by episodes of mismanagement, disastrous distillery fires and near-extinction. Tracking its rise from the 19th-century log cabin in which it began to its 21st-century revival, cocktail historian David Wondrich argues in favor of the storied rye’s recent rebirth. [The Daily Beast]

Taking its name from Maori and relying on the iconography of various island nations to achieve its signature pseudo-tropical aesthetic, tiki has always been rooted in a particular strand of Americana that reveled in escapism and the exoticism of the tropics. As the tiki revival only continues to grow, NPR asks whether its appropriation of other cultures is fun, or exploitative. [NPR]

The annual wine harvest in Champagne is an arduous event undertaken largely by volunteers who pick, press and ferment grapes in exchange for room and board. Aside from the long hours, spare lodgings and backaches that are par for the course, one writer recounts the daily delights that come with partaking in the timeless tradition of les vendanges. [New York Times]

With its domestically sourced materials and manufacturing, American Keg—the nation’s only steel keg producer—is tapping into the homegrown ethos of the ever-expanding craft beer industry. Munchies visits their Pottstown, Pennsylvania, facility for a close-up look at the daily operations of this nascent industry. [Munchies]

In the U.S., the notion that women required safeguarding from the moral vice of alcohol persisted well past the catalyst of Prohibition. Laws banning women from bartending were only eradicated in the 1970s, and, today, women behind the bar still face rampant sexism and harassment from both employers and customers. The Washington Post highlights the issue, and how some bartenders are counteracting it. [The Washington Post]

Even as successive studies highlight the correlation between health risks and moderate drinking, popular opinion remains divided. These disparities all hint at a larger issue at play: How can the scientific community implement advisories against something so deeply embedded in our cultural fabric? [Wired]

Historically, Detroit has been a drinker’s city. In the late 19th century, 40 breweries were located within the city limits, and Prohibition did little to slow the momentum: 75 percent of alcohol distributed during this period filtered through Detroit. It should come as no surprise, then, that the city is once again on the radar as an emerging cocktail capital. Thrillist outlines the factors contributing to its recent craft cocktail ascendancy. [Thrillist]

In a move that mirrors the trajectory of the craft beer industry, large spirits brands are increasingly acquiring craft distilleries. Eater investigates the repercussions of the trend for both consumers and manufacturers. [Eater]

Jim Meehan speaks with Micah Melton of Chicago’s The Aviary, one of the progenitors of the movement to approach cocktails from a culinary standpoint, about the transformation of cocktail culture from “a vodka delivery vehicle” to one that comes with a profession as innovative and respected as that of the professional chef. [Lucky Peach]

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