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What We’re Into Right Now

An idiosyncratic orange wine from Umbria, a Midori-spiked vodka soda, a new red bitter liqueur from Calabria 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.

2012 Paolo Bea “Arboreus” Umbria Bianco IGT | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
Paolo Bea is perhaps best known for his work with the sagrantino grape, which produces rich, rough-hewn red wines. But it’s his mastery of orange wine that I first fell in love with more than a decade ago. I finally had the chance to visit Giampiero Bea (son of Paolo) at the family’s winery in Montefalco last month. I gained a whole new appreciation for Arboreus, his skin-contact (aka “orange”) wine based on the trebbiano Spoletino grape. It was historically common to to train trebbiano Spoletino up the trunks of maple trees, so the fruit is high off the ground, promoting airflow and thus guarding against disease. Arboreus is sourced from an ungrafted plot of tree-trained Spoletino, aged on the skins for nearly three weeks and then aged another two (minimum) without the skins. The wine is also blended with a very small amount of dried Spoletino grapes that are fermented separately and then blended in to round the wine’s sharp edges. The 2012, which is about to enter the U.S. market is one of the very best examples of this wine I’ve tasted yet.

Golden Horseshoe | Chloe Frechette, Associate Editor
I’ve recently fallen into a bit of a tiki rabbit hole—reading every book I can get my hands on and exploring historic recipes both on paper and, of course, at the bar. I’ve enjoyed tracking the crossover between tiki and classic cocktails as elements of the tiki palette are increasingly common outside their namesake bars. Garret Richard’s Golden Horseshoe demonstrates this crossover in a unique way; rather than injecting tiki flavors into a classic blueprint, he employs an essential tiki principle—the multitiered layering of flavors—to a classic stirred composition for an endlessly nuanced result.

Melon-Lime Soda at Katana Kitten | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
The menu at New York’s Katana Kitten has an impressive selection of highballs, each served in a thick-rimmed beer mug. There’s a Gin and Tonic (made with shiso), a Paloma (with toasted jasmine tea) and even a vodka soda, a.k.a. the drink of my college years, which is made bright green with matcha and Midori. It was one of the drinks highlighted in Kara Newman’s recent article chronicling the melon liqueur’s unironic return, and for good reason—it’s delicious. Bright, refreshing and a little bit sweet, the Melon-Lime Soda tastes (thankfully) nothing like college.

2014 Punta Crena “Vigneto Ca da Rena” Pigato | Leslie Pariseau, Features Editor
It’s not even close to pigato season, which has a lot to do with why this wine grabbed my attention last week at Popina in Brooklyn. A quintessential Ligurian grape, pigato is related to vermentino with a quality that reminds me of salty Goldfish crackers (a plus in my book). The Ruffino family, which makes Punta Crena, has been cultivating grapes along this stretch of Italian Riviera for five centuries, building stone terraces by hand and never filtering or fining. This vintage is aromatic and saline and a gorgeous sunny gold color. It’s nice to drink something that evokes July on the Mediterranean when, in actuality, it’s five degrees and the East River is craggy with ice floats.

Bialetti con Braulio | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
Ready for your next post-prandial dinner party trick by way of Milan? Fill the bottom chamber of your Bialetti moka pot with half the usual water, and half with Braulio. Add coffee to the filter basket and percolate as usual. Serve in espresso cups with a lemon twist. Hypothetically you could replace the Braulio with any amaro, but I’m partial to that whole brooding, alpine flavor profile. Sweet, bitter, boozy and extremely low-impact—I’ve been drinking a lot of these to get me though the winter doldrums.

2017 Château de Bonnezeaux La Montagne “Cuvée Salve Regina” | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
Chenin is the thing these days, and the Anjou, in France’s western Loire, has become the place for it. Within just a few years, names that were relatively obscure—thinking Richard Leroy, Mark Angeli and, more recently, Stéphane Bernaudeau—have become minor cult figures. Just one glitch: there aren’t a whole lot of these wines to go around. La Montagne is a mix of fruit from 70-year-old vines in Bonnezeaux itself, plus a bit more in the Layon area; the 2017 is just the second vintage, and when I drank it not long ago at Ferris, in midtown Manhattan, it was intense and darkly mineral as wines from that area should be. It also more than kept pace with a bottle of Bernaudeau’s Les Onglés, a benchmark for exceptional chenin from that area. So it’s nice to have another addition to this roster, since these wines are quickly becoming the epitome of fashion.

Caffo Mezzodi L’Aperitivo and Red Bitter | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
The United States has recently been flooded with red bitters, both old labels newly imported from Italy, and new bottlings from American craft distillers. Still, it’s always nice to be introduced to a worthy new expression. I recently became acquainted with the Red Bitter and Mezzodi L’Aperitivo Italiano from Caffo, a Calabrian producer that dates back to 1915. The Red Bitter is made with sweet and bitter oranges grown right on the Caffo property, lending the viscous drink a nice bittersweet hit. The Mezzodi is considerably lighter, both in alcohol and body, but pleasant enough. Both make good bases for spritzes, while the Red Bitter can sub for Campari in a Negroni. Caffo is an old-school firm, so both liqueurs get their bright red color from the cochineal insect. The appeal of both products is not hampered by the so-corny-its-cool label art, with its illustrations of solicitous waiters and bartenders rendered in blinding colors.

El Guapo Chicory Pecan Bitters | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
On my last trip to Kalustyan’s, a bottle of these bitters had felicitously been dropped on the tiles of the second floor. The room filled up with this Braulio-meets-espresso-meets-bake-shop scent and before I knew it, I was sniffing the paper towel the clerk was using to mop up the mess. The New Orleans-made bitters have since been finding their way into drinks I’ve made with whiskey and aged rum, like the Old-Fashioned, to which it adds just the right hearty bass note.

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