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What We’re Into Right Now

California gin with a sense of place, an exceptional sake list, a Bamonte's Martini and more.

Each month, we pull together a selection of drinking-related items that have, for one reason or another, grabbed the attention of PUNCH’s editors, who spend pretty much all day, every day surrounded by booze. Here’s what we’re into right now.

Future Gin | Chloe Frechette, Associate Editor
There’s a lot to like about Future Gin. For one thing, it’s run by an all-star five-person team of LA-based industry veterans, Mary Bartlett (Honeycut, Ace Hotel DTLA, ArcLight Cinemas), Morgan Mclachlan (The Spirit Guild), Natasha Case and Frey Estreller (Coolhaus) and Amy Atwood (Oeno Wines). And it boasts a botanical profile that manages to be distinctly of it’s place (avocado leaves, Meyer lemon) without losing the juniper-forward palate that allows it to stand in for any London dry style. But for me, the best part is the consideration that went into ensuring its compatibility with vermouth in a Martini format. (Bartlett, a Martini drinker herself, insisted on bringing in vermouth anytime the team was close to finalizing a formula.) That it also slots seamlessly into Negronis and Gimlets is just an added bonus.

The Cirelli Wines | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
Both Edoardo Valentini and Emidio Pepe have proven that Abruzzo—which, for much of its history, hasn’t exactly been a hotspot for winemaking—is capable of producing world-class, age-worthy wines. Their estates are nothing short of legendary. But Abruzzo has never been a place I’ve looked to for great, characterful everyday wines. For that, I tend to look south, to Sicily or Campania, or north, to Piemonte (for its “peasant grapes”). Francesco Cirelli has changed my mind with his honest, delicious versions of the region’s native grapes: trebbiano and pecorino on the white side, and montepulciano on the red. While he makes two excellent amphora-aged wines, it’s his single-variety bottlings of the three aforementioned grapes that have become my latest house staples.

Tokyo Gibson at 701West | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
There’s a subway ad for some sort of collaborative work website I keep seeing on my commute that talks about rebranding Times Square as “the fourth circle of Hell.” I don’t know whether that gives Hell a bad name, but I agree with the sentiment. Which is why I was reluctant to go to the opening of the new Times Square Edition, right off the brighter-than-daylight strip. But Gates Otsuji (the former Chef de Bar of the Standard Hotels) has been working with the hotel to develop the cocktails at the swanky 701West bar space, and let’s not pretend the promise of a drink never persuaded you to go somewhere against your better judgement. Hits from the menu include the Bali Ha’i, essentially a boozy bowl of ramen complete with fruit pectin noodles, and My Robot Friend, a butterfly pea tea cocktail for two mixed tableside, which I have in my notes as “Tinder date perfection.” The standout, however, is the Tokyo Gibson, a remix on the classic that includes a blueberry sesame shrub, dry vermouth and gin. Clearly a far departure from its astringent, briny namesake, but somehow still hitting all the fatty, tart and umami notes.

2014 Clos Canarelli “Alta Rocca” | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
No one ever said this job was without its perks. This month, for me, that came in the form of a dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns that showcased two excellent Corsican wineries: Domaine Comte Abbatucci and Clos Canarelli, both of which have been committed for years to working with, and effectively restoring, the island’s native grapes. It’s fitting then, that the tasting would focus so much on indigenous varieties, like barbarossa, which forms the base of Jean-Charles Abbatucci’s extra brut Empire, made from 60-year-old vines, and sciaccarellu. The latter, which makes for especially elegant, floral reds, was most memorable by way of Canarelli’s Alta Rocca. Super velvety, low in tannin and packed with red fruit and pepper, it was the best thing I drank all month.

Gin Martini at Bamonte’s | Leslie Pariseau, Features Editor
For me, ordering a Martini is all about context; they’re best paired with a steakhouse, Houston’s (where they swap your glass halfway through for a freshly chilled one), bad days and, most especially, Bamonte’s. Once ensconced in the red-carpeted stasis of the restaurant’s 118-year-old dining room it’s impossible not to. At a recent editorial meeting held at a round table where a scene from The Sopranos was shot, we all ordered a round. The oddball who doesn’t prefer extra-dirty with olives, I ordered mine wet with a twist. Though it came bone-dry—not a whisper of vermouth detectable, the glass brimming with cold, straight gin—it was still the perfect prelude to a load of penne à la vodka, lasagna, linguine and clams and lots of crappy bread with near-frozen butter.

New York Distilling Company’s Ragtime Rye | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
Most independent craft distilleries tend to leave well enough alone. If a product is selling, they see no reason to improve it. Not New York Distilling Company. Owner and distiller Allen Katz never stops tinkering with one of his flagship spirit, rye. Last year, he put out an excellent and unique version that was rested in applejack barrels. Now, he’s released what may be the best version of Ragtime Rye yet, a four-year-old, bottled-in-bond spirit. It’s toasty and toothsome, as good as any rye of comparable strength and age on the market. Here’s hoping Katz keeps tinkering.

The Sake List at Method | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
Drinking well in Hell’s Kitchen remains an elusive goal, as the options remain, to be kind, limited (although it’s nice to see Rudy’s still giving away hot dogs in the shadow of Port Authority). So you could easily miss Method, its stripped-down Japanese façade barely noticeable amid a stretch of 10th Avenue full of the bodega storefronts and such luminous temples of mixology as 123 Burger Shot Beer. And yet, here’s one of New York’s best-edited sake selections. It includes bottles like Hakurakusei from Miyagi’s Niizawa brewery, made using heirloom rice; and Tateyama Tokubetsu, a honjozo that shows this added-alcohol style more than has its place. But the glasses of sake, mostly just $10 each, offer the chance to explore—pours like the yamahai-style Suehiro with its tangy blast of flavor, or the brisk Kariho Namahage from Akita, with snacks like wasabi-flavored fries. There are bigger sake lists, for sure, but sometimes good editing is just what you need.

2017 I Clivi Friulano “San Pietro” | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
There’s such a moodiness to this time of year. Everything is thawed, but it’s too cold to leave the windows open past 3 p.m. after the sun’s gone to the other side of the apartment building across the street. There’s a fine line to it all, which is something I really appreciate about this white wine from Friuli. Sometimes wines made from the friulano grape can fall a little heavy, but this one, from a 70-year-old vineyard that’s overseen by Ferdinando Zanusso on the Slovenian border, has an inherent delicacy. It’s got a scrubby herb side, and an almost tangy aloe vera, succulent vibe that somehow coalesces with all of these super bloom photos I’ve been staring at. And then there’s its dry roasted almond quality that gives just enough follow through that we’re not fully punted into spring. It’s a mood.

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