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.
Daiquiri at Miami’s Café La Trova | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
Julio Cabrera has trained a generation of bartenders in the cantinero style of bartending. Born in Cuba to a family of bar owners, Cabrera went on to work and train in Italy, Mexico, Miami and beyond in the style of drink-making that has made Cuba and its cocktails iconic. He recently reunited with chef Michelle Bernstein (he originally worked with her at Michy’s in the mid-aughts) to open a Cuban-style cafe and restaurant on Calle Ocho manned by himself and a pack of well-trained cantineros. It’s easily the best place outside Cuba (and, perhaps, inside as well) to drink classic Cuban cocktails, like the Mojito, Presidente, Hotel Nacional and, of course, the Daiquiri. A simple combination of Bacardi Superior, lime and sugar (and, let’s face it, a heavy dose of atmosphere) Cabrera’s take on the drink was one of my most memorable experiences with the Daiquiri to date.
Alex Jump’s Siren | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
We were thrilled this week to welcome our Bartender in Residence, Alex Jump of Death & Co. Denver, to New York to serve up a selection of her own next-level culinary cocktails. Though the Rescue Team (her take on the Daiquiri made with peanut butter-infused rum and banana liqueur) was an immediate crowd favorite, I found myself gravitating towards the Siren, a stirred mix of five highly unlikely players: gin, tequila, Pineau des Charentes, unaged Jamaican rum and verjus blanc. Incredibly savory, beautifully balanced and not too boozy, it was just the opposite of what you might expect from such a surprising list of ingredients—which is to say, it was an impossibly elegant drink.
Juneau at Gran Tivoli | Chloe Frechette, Associate Editor
When it comes to a Martini on a cocktail menu I’m like a moth to a flame. So when I saw the Juneau—gin, génépy, orange bitters—at Gran Tivoli, a new restaurant in New York’s NoLita neighborhood, I went right for it. The plan was to have one and move on to wine with dinner, but the simple, alpine-inspired Martini variation from beverage director Dave Fisher ended up being my second drink of the night, too. And also maybe my third.
Cume do Avia, Dos Canotos Caiño Longo2017 | Leslie Pariseau, Features Editor
A newcomer to Spain’s Ribeiro region, Cume do Avia has old-school roots; it was founded upon ancient Galician ruins and is reviving the region’s native grapes, some of which haven’t been drunk in decades. Brothers Diego and Álvaro Collarte and their cousins Fito and Anxo nearly went bankrupt in their first attempts at making wine, and still vinify everything in their grandparents’ garage, which is just down the hill from their vineyards. I stumbled across this caiño longo thanks to Ashley Ragovin of All Time in Los Angeles who kindly shared one of her three allocated bottles with me. In the Dos Canotos, caiño longo manifests as super fresh, yet intense and energetic. It’s aged in century-old chestnut barrels, and is high acid and low alcohol—very drinkable. If only you can get your hands on it. If you can’t find the Dos Canotos, seek out Cume’s entry level Colleita N5.
Wunderkammer Bier | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
Hill Farmstead was likely enough to cement Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom as the holy grail for wizened beer nerds questing for the ultimate whale. But there’s another reason why a trek to Greensboro is worth a spot on your beer bucket list: Wunderkammer Bier. Wunderkammer (literally “cabinet of wonders”) is the side project of Hill Farmstead Head Brewer and Production Manager, Vasilios Gletsos. Gletsos is an artist and former puppeteer for Bread and Puppet who designs his own labels and forages all of the flora used in his beers from the local landscape. We covered his beers in 2017, but I slept on them until I saw a bottle of Memento Mori in the Hill Farmstead bottle shop. Brewed with chaga, fermented with mixed culture, and aged on wild rose petals, it is botanical beer turned up to eleven. Similarly, the yarrow-laced Embroidered Bird Motif, 19th Century is a bracingly savory knockout with an herbal backbone rounded by barrel conditioning.
Rockey’s Milk Punch | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
In these days of bottled this and canned that, you can get almost any cocktail refreshment in portable form. Not true with clarified milk punch—until now. The historical drink, which has been rediscovered by cocktail bartenders over the past decade, has remained a bar item, mainly because the process by which it is achieved is too laborious for the layman. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) But Eamon Rockey finally managed to put the stuff in a bottle. It makes sense that he accomplished the feat; while beverage director at Betony in Manhattan, he became renowned for his milk punches, putting out a new one every week. His new product, Rockey’s, works exactly like those Betony punches used to: You can drink the silky, subtly spicy liquid on its own over ice, or you can add a shot of your favorite spirit.
Brooklyn Kura “Vintage” Junmai Ginjo Sake | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
If jokes about the preciousness of artisan sake are almost too obvious to make, they’re also unfair. Brandon Doughan and Brian Polen arguably take this rice beverage more seriously than anyone else making it in the United States, enough that sake lovers who’ve drunk Japan’s best have already benchmarked their Brooklyn Kura specimens. They offer a constantly revolving list at their taproom in Industry City, but the currently featured Vintage is a stunner. Made using an old-fashioned yeast strain, it’s a junmai gingo, which has no added alcohol and only moderate polishing of the rice. Its intensity is remarkable: with a pulse of acidity that you more typically find in a yamahai style, it has a tactile side on the palate—not sticky, but persistent the way the tannins of a good red wine might be. If for some reason you thought the junmai style was about delicacy, this will prove you wonderfully wrong.