What We’re Into Right Now

A monthly installment covering what, where and how the editors of PUNCH are drinking. This month, a tiki-inspired white ale, an unorthodox G&T, a new strip mall bar in Los Angeles 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.

Domaine du Collier Saumur Blanc | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
Diehard lovers of chenin blanc will likely know Antoine Foucault’s wines well. He got his start with his father and uncle at the famed Clos Rougeard before breaking out on his own at the age of 26, in 1999. Since then he’s established his domaine as a benchmark for exceptional chenin (though he also makes killer cabernet franc). While the wines have steadily crept up in price over the last half-decade, his straight Saumur Blanc, sourced from vines that range in age from 25 and 75 years old, is still relatively easy to find (though still limited in quantity) and clocks in around $30. This is chenin with the precision of Chablis—mineral and precise, but still as dense as chenin from Saumur should be.

Bar Caló | Chloe Frechette, Associate Editor
From Trois Mec to Baroo, Los Angeles has the unique ability to make strip malls destination-worthy. One of the latest examples of this phenomenon is Echo Park’s Bar Caló, a mezcal-driven concept located in a strip mall off Sunset Boulevard, which opened earlier this month. Inside, the dusty rose hues and polished concrete alongside the tight cocktail list from bar manager Jeremy Simpson (formerly Bestia), which highlights Mexican spirits and wine, recall Mexico City. Small plates from chef Carrie Funk (Ostrich Farm), on the other hand, call on seasonal California ingredients. Together, with a patio comprised of a converted parking space that could only exist in LA, Bar Caló represents the sort of cultural cross-pollination that the city does so well.

Toby Cecchini’s Gin and Tonic | Allison Hamlin, Social Media Editor
The oddball winner of our recent blind Gin and Tonic tasting has been in heavy rotation on my at-home cocktail menu. Despite my general ambivalence towards G&Ts, what won me over about Toby Cecchini‘s version is how little the drink actually resembles the too-boozy, too-bitter, too-sweet archetype. One taster from the panel referred to the drink as “lime salad,” which, honestly, is not too far off the mark. Lime halves are juiced, and julienned, then their spent shells are muddled with a hefty three ounces of Tanqueray and left to macerate for several minutes. The whole mess gets poured over a giant tumbler full of Schweppes tonic on ice, the beat-up limes tonged on top for the drinker to mix in. I’ve been scaling up the recipe to make it by the pitcher, but the better bet is to visit Long Island Bar and have Toby make you the real deal.

The Negroni Sbagliato | Bianca Prum, Head of Partnerships
Since we’ve officially reached peak Aperol Spritz saturation, I’m calling it now: Next year will be the Summer of the Sbag. It’s bubbly and refreshing like its ubiquitous sunny orange counterpart, but the ol’ Sbagliato is more bitter and a touch stronger—a summer Negroni, if that’s what you’re into. (I certainly am.)

Avery Brewing Co.’s Liliko’i Kepolo | Lizzie Munro, Senior Editor
There’s just no stopping tiki these days, so it’s only logical that it’s currently infiltrating the world of beer. And while “tiki beer” is kind of a nebulous term, it’s hard to deny that the flavors it refers to—tropical fruits and citrus, often paired with IPAs or sours—are pretty ideal for summer drinking. Here at PUNCH HQ, we recently polished off a 6-pack of Avery Brewing’s passionfruit-driven white ale, dubbed Liliko’i Kepolo, which is intensely tart, refreshing and crushable. Is it gimmicky? Yeah, kind of. But I’m not mad about it.

Left Foot Charley Kerner | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
Reporting live from northern Michigan here. I’m a big fan of this wine, a kerner (a German crossing of riesling and trollinger) grown on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. Growers here are experimenting with all sorts of acooler climate northern European grape varieties, including zweigelt, blaufränkisch and grüner veltliner, in addition to kerner and the ubiquitous riesling, with promising results. This wine is all ripe tropical fruit on the nose, but the palate is more medium-bodied, with a vervy through-line that I’ve come to expect from kerners from northern Italy.

Leyenda’s Michelada | Jason Diamond, Deputy Editor
I hate going-away parties almost as I dislike hot summer days. Combine those two things, and I’m probably going to drink a little more than I should to make myself feel better. Fortunately, at a recent goodbye party to a friend on a day that tipped past 90 degrees, I found myself at Leyenda during happy hour. The house Michelada, which forgoes the typical tomato juice for a delicious papaya and carrot sangrita, was the perfect remedy.

Hinoki Martini at Katana Kitten | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
I’m always on the lookout for a good Martini, one that shows a bit of creativity while not straying too far from the classical ideal of the drink. I recently found a dazzling example at Katana Kitten, Masahiro Urushido’s new Japanese-American cocktail bar in New York’s West Village. His Hinoki Martini combines Grey Goose vodka and Spring 44 Mountain gin with fino sherry, sake and the essence of the Hinoki tree, a cypress variety native to Japan, which adds a fresh, piney aroma to the drink. The whole thing has an elegant presentation, served in a conical, stemless glass nestles in a small, square wooden box filled with pebble ice. (In Japan, sake is traditionally served in a wooden box.) The whole drink is quite an experience, just as a good Martini should be.

Delinquente Pretty Boy Riverland Nero d’Avola Rosato | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
The New Australia contains multitudes, which is to say that while the wines of the Adelaide Hills get all the cool stares, it’s important to look in every corner. And Con-Greg Grigoriou looked to the Riverland, the not-so-cool corner of South Australia where a lot of the grapes that went into the wines of the Shitty Old Australia came from—an Aussie San Joaquin Valley, basically. But there are also a handful of diligent growers working with Italianate varieties, which are a right fit for Riverland’s not-cool (as in, warm) climate. The Deliquente labels, from Adelaide artist Ankles, may look like postmodern sideshow fare—the poster boy for this bottle might be Freddy Krueger’s progeny—but the wines are seriously pleasurable, including this juicy glassful, with its blood orange flavors. Perhaps more importantly, these wines are helping to recast a region badly in need of a new identity.

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