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.
Drinking in Detroit | Leslie Pariseau, Features Editor
Last week, I spent six days reporting in Detroit, which was the closest thing I had to a big city growing up in rural Northwest Ohio. Today, Detroit is a place that embraces weirdos, artists, entrepreneurs and unconventional DIYers of all stripes. Some of the best art I’ve experienced in the past year were public installations woven throughout a city that, until very recently, was best known as America’s poster child for urban blight. This is all to say that Detroit supports my theory that where there are weirdos and artists, there are good bars. From corner bars to cocktail bars to underground black-lit dance bars, Detroit is a wonderful place to pull up a stool and glean an alternative history lesson or two. If you go, it won’t take you long to navigate the scene. My top drawer picks included an impromptu dance party at The Raven Lounge, a ‘60s-era blues bar way out on the East Side, late afternoon cocktails at Kiesling, a reinhabited Milwaukee Junction saloon, the heavy Hollywood vibes at Cliff Bell’s, a jazz club built in 1935, and playing Tetris on one of Deluxx Fluxx’s half-dozen retrofitted 1980s video games.
Bar Pisellino | Chloe Frechette, Senior Editor
The new property from Rita Sodi and Jody Williams boasts a stunning beverage program helmed by one of my favorite New York bartenders, Jon Mullen. The design evokes an Italian train station bar and the drinks are, naturally, thoroughly European-leaning, calling on a wide selection of vermouth, amari and liqueurs. The same thoughtful attention that’s paid to the drinks themselves is carried over into the presentation of each cocktail, too. One particularly eye-catching example is the anisette frappé, which appears on a silver tray alongside a petite glass of sparkling water, a shot of espresso and biscotti. It’s effortlessly elegant and wholly refreshing.
Ar.Pe.Pe Valtellina Superiore Sassella “Stella Retica” 2012 | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
When people think of nebbiolo, pretty much anyone who doesn’t live in Italy’s Valtellina Valley probably thinks of Barolo and Barbaresco. Fair enough. No one is going to argue with the grandeur of those wines. But the grape takes another, equally compelling guise in the alpine foothills of Lombardia, where steep vineyards rise up from the verdant valley that snakes east from the northern tip of Lake Como. Nebbiolo here is lower in alcohol and leaner than in Piemonte—fresh, but still powerful in a way that only alpine wines are. Last week I was lucky enough to visit my favorite producer in the region, and drink one of my favorite wines they make, alongside a bowl of pizzoccheri, the region’s claim to carbohydrate fame. It’s easy to see why the two were invented in the same place: There is perhaps no better foil to a gut-busting tangle of buckwheat pasta, potatoes, cabbage and a gratuitous dose of cheese and browned butter.
Christine Wiseman’s Papaya Salad Daiquiri | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
Christine Wiseman wasn’t kidding when she suggested that everyone drink more glitter; at PUNCH’s most recent Bartender in Residence event, the LA-based Wiseman, bar manager at the West Coast outpost of Broken Shaker, incorporated blue, pink and purple shimmer into every single one of her signature cocktails. Though plenty of folks opted for drinks like her O-Fish-Ally Open (a gin-based cocktail that’s heavy on the umami, with both miso tincture and shredded nori), I kept coming back to the Papaya Salad Daiquiri. Despite incorporating a full ounce of savory cordial, made with palm sugar, tomato water, fish sauce and lime, it’s a surprisingly understated cocktail that’s both light on its feet and dangerously easy to drink, glitter and all.
Suarez Family Brewery, Palatine Pils | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
I think about this @dontdrinkbeers meme a lot. Sometimes I feel bad for all the beer bros this applies to. Sometimes it hits a little, um, too close to home. But you know what I do not ever ever ever regret spending my rent money on? Dan Suarez’s beers. In particular, the “crispy little beers” from Suarez Family Brewery are standouts in a field crowded by ambitious, but questionably executed specimens. Right now, I’m working through a flat of “Palatine Pils,” his exceptionally well-calibrated unfiltered classic German pilsner. And, if you too want to adventure to Hudson, New York (possibly with your late-20-something roommate), he and his business partner/wife Taylor, have just opened a “can shack” behind the brewery where you can drink them outside every weekend this summer.
The Cabinet | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
The East Village of New York has been hurting for a solid agave bar ever since Mayahuel closed in 2017. The Cabinet, which just opened in the old Mace space, may just fit the bill. The mezcal and tequila selections look to rival those of Mayahuel, and there’s a fine selection of rye. Why mezcal, tequila and rye? Those are the spirits that disappear from Boehm’s home liquor cabinet most quickly.
The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
In 1973, Roy Andries de Groot wrote this travelogue/cookbook chronicling his voyage into the foothills of Le Grande Chartreuse mountain to unearth the secrets of the makings of green Chartreuse. I only discovered the book this year. De Groot details the sounds and smells of this region (he was nearly blind, which maybe made his awareness of such things especially dialed in) as well as his delight in the cheese and wines made there. I’ve not cooked any of the recipes yet, but that doesn’t even seem necessary, the whole thing is completely transporting without.