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, we visited a haunted honky-tonk, met the "celebrity brewers" of the craft beer world and reconsidered the official drink of bros worldwide, Jägermeister.

As far as bars go, Bobby Mackey’s Kentucky honky-tonk is very, very haunted. It’s certainly the only known one with a hellmouth in the basement. In 37 years, the place has seen at least 40 reported ghosts, one basement well filled with blood and masses of customers who keep coming back to get a taste of the occult. Bitter Southerner dives deep into all of the spooky details of the beloved, possessed honky-tonk. [Bitter Southerner]

Chef Sean Brock is a bourbon fanatic. Though he didn’t become a fan until he tasted Pappy Van Winkle in 2007, eight years and thousands of dollars later, Brock has a collection to make any bourbon aficionado envious. Garden and Gun joined in for one of Brock’s living room tastings, where his friends and fellow bourbon-lovers assemble for blind taste-tests. This time around: a 24-year “vertical” of W.L. Weller Special Reserve, which included a bottle from every year from 1987 to 2010. [Garden and Gun]

What does it mean to eat and drink out in the world as a feminist? The 1970s and ’80s saw a wave of self-identified “feminist restaurants” that gave women the opportunity to eat out alone or with other females without being regarded as suspicious. Mostly concentrated in big cities like New York and San Francisco, these restaurants were seen as a quieter way of raising consciousness among the more aggressive movement of second-wave feminism. Focusing in on Greenwich Village’s Mother Courage, Broadly delves into this little-known phenomenon. [Broadly]

Out of the craft beer revolution have emerged a number of top brewers known as much for their personalities as for the beer they make. From Sierra Nevada’s highly-respected Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi to personalities like Jeppe Jarnit-Bjersgø, the tattooed and slightly eccentric head of Brooklyn-based Evil Twin Brewing, there’s a “celebrity brewer” for every taste. Vanity Fair profiles the biggest characters in the craft beer world. [Vanity Fair]

Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group has always operated with customer service at the forefront—even when it comes to wine lists, an element of fine dining that proves intimidating to many restaurant guests. Eric Asimov maintains that establishments like New York’s Marta and North End Grill excel in making even the most novice drinkers feel right at home, and that their respective wine lists contain great values and just-plain-delicious options. (We’re especially fond of Gramercy Tavern’s offerings.) Does Meyer, quite simply, have a wine for everyone? [The New York Times]

Gosling’s Rum owns the recipe for the Dark n’ Stormy—literally: Descendants of the rum’s originator, James Gosling, trademarked the rum and ginger beer drink in 1991. Now, the company is flexing its proprietary muscles against Pernod Ricard for trademark infringement. But can one person or company really “own” a cocktail recipe? Out of the thousands of cocktails in existence, only a handful are actually trademarked, among them the Painkiller, the Sazerac and the Hand Grenade. The Daily Beast investigates the ins and outs of Gosling’s suit. [The Daily Beast]

What craft beer companies may lack in resources or revenue in comparison to their Big Beer counterparts, they’ve often made up for in creativity when it comes to marketing and branding. From Fulton Beer’s recent collaboration with General Mills to create “HefeWheaties” to Texas-based Beerworks release of a 99-pack case of its Peacemaker beer, smaller brewers have learned to tap into what their customers want, often with a cheeky grin and a wink. Brandchannel explores the current landscape of craft beer marketing, and asks: What does it mean for small brewers being bought out by Big Beer? [Brandchannel]

Is it time to reconsider Jägermeister?  The spirit best known as a frat boy favorite and ill-advised vehicle for ‘bombs is being revisited by an increasing number of bartenders, who are working to rehabilitate the drink’s negative reputation. Sother Teague of Amor y Amargo recommends tasting Jäger at room temperature to fully comprehend the “layers of complex spices,” and it’s no secret that we at PUNCH are big fans of the Jägerita. Eater takes a look at how the official shot of bros everywhere is creeping its way into serious cocktail territory. [Eater]

And from the PUNCH archives… This month, Jon Bonné debated who would decide the future of Beaujolais; Christopher Ross sought to define the “Japanese-style” cocktail bar; Robert Simonson illustrated the current, over-the-top state of the cocktail garnish; Brad Thomas Parsons reminisced on the ever-lasting influence of the movie Cocktail; Leah Mennies traced the rise of “fast-casual” cocktail bars; and Zachary Sussman visited the hauntingly beautiful and quickly disappearing wine region of Colares.