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.
Empirical Spirits | Chloe Frechette, Assistant Editor
Billed ambiguously as a “spirit drink,” the latest offerings from Copenhagen’s Empirical Spirits refuse easy categorization. Launched in 2016 by Noma alums Lars Williams and Emil Hermansen, the line of unique distillates is created using a proprietary still specifically designed to allow evaporation to occur at a lower temperature, ultimately concentrating the final flavor of the spirit. Individually, bottles like Charlene McGee (matured in oloroso casks) and Fallen Pony Blend (infused with quince tea kombucha) are enticing studies in fermentation and valuable additions to any bar. But collectively they represent an exciting step towards a future in which truth to ingredients—even in spirits—is paramount.
Spritzette | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
A spritz made with dry pét-nat combined with an Italian-style red bitters made in Brooklyn? Meet the most 2018 spritz in America. At Tribeca’s newly opened Frenchette, bar manager Sarah Morrissey riffs on Jorge Riera’s lo-fi Wildair Spritz (Riera is the restaurant’s wine director), which combines Les Capriades Pét Sec with Mauro Vergano’s Americano, a bitter aromatized wine from Piedmont made from grignolino grapes. Morrissey keeps the Pét Sec and swaps Vergano’s Americano for Forthave’s Red, which is one my my favorite domestic attempts at a classic red bitter. It’s pungent, complex and dry—a spritz perfectly suited to the modern wine drinker.
2017 Jaimee Motley Wines Rorick Heritage Vineyard Mondeuse Rosé | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
I’ve been waiting keenly for Motley to release her first wines—and this bottle from the debut offering is super promising. There’s a lot of quiet New Cali star power here: Motley is assistant winemaker at Pax Mahle’s well-known Wind Gap, and these grapes come from the home vineyard of Forlorn Hope’s Matthew Rorick, high in the Sierra Foothills. Mondeuse is a genetic parent to syrah, and to say there’s not a lot around is an understatement. Motley and Rorick took cuttings from a Santa Barbara vineyard and planted them at altitude and, like Carole Meredith’s planting on Napa’s Mount Veeder, their new effort shows how the grape thrives on granitic, mountainous soils. Its stark, savory aspects come through even in pink form; it tastes like salted peaches and charcoal and pink peppercorn, and there’s a chewiness that is surprising for a rosé that, at 11.8 percent alcohol, certainly isn’t operating from brute force.
London’s Lounge Bohemia | Bianca Prum, Head of Partnerships
This subterranean bar in Shoreditch can only be described as your grandparents’ 1970s rec room meets Twin Peaks meets molecular mixology, plus a dash of acid trip. A Margarita riff came with saline bubbles cascading over the edge of the glass and a salt feather to stir with, while another drink arrived in a glass shaped like a volcano, smoking and bubbling, accompanied by a theatrical tale of an ancient Polynesian god and an ill-fated love potion made for his lover. The best part: the drinks are actually good.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
The first hops I ever knew by name were Cascades—thanks entirely to the pint after pint I drank of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale after college. It was bold and sharp and piney, with so much more going on than the wimpy Rolling Rock I’d become accustomed to; it was the first craft beer that I knew intimately. At some point, Sierra Nevada was lost in the avalanche of overly-hopped, sour, juicy craft beers. But while the cool kids are embracing adjunct beers, I’m circling back to Ken Goodman’s iconoclastic invention. It’s real and balanced and well-made—as perfect as a lunchtime bottle from the bodega as it is a post-hike recovery beer in Big Sur.
Cocchi Vermouth di Torino | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
For the first time in a while, I picked up a bottle of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, and was reminded how lovely this elegant and delicate vermouth is. I was so pleased with the Manhattans it produced, I quickly used up the bottle and went back for a second. It makes one wonder why ever uses other sweet red vermouths. The answer of course is the price. But a 375ml bottle is only a few dollars more than the next bottle down and well worth it.
Paranubes Rum | Lizzie Munro, Senior Editor
Last week, PUNCH ran a piece by Bobby Heugel about the tradition of producing aguardiente, or pressed sugarcane spirit, in Oaxaca, a region that’s obviously better known for the production of mezcal. But rum has long been a tradition there, too; ever since the Spanish first brought sugarcane to the region, hundreds of families have made their own agricole-style rums, which are rarely exported. One such bottling, however, made by distiller Jose Luis Carrera and imported by Judah Kuper of Mezcal Vago, arrived in the U.S. midway through last year, and is really worth seeking out. Paranubes, with its heady, vivid aromatics (think, lots of toffee and sea spray) can absolutely be sipped straight—which is how we’ve been enjoying it at the office as of late. But, given the season, I’m anxious to try it in a Daiquiri, too.
Senior & Co Curaçao | Allison Hamlin, Social Media Editor
Riding a newfound appreciation for neon-hued liqueur-based cocktails, this month I’m taking a cue from the impossibly colored line of Curaçao produced by Senior & Co. The distillery claims to be the first to make the bitter orange liqueur, with production reaching back to 1896 on the island of Curaçao, in the Dutch Antilles. Their formulation is made with the peels of Laraha oranges grown on the island—said to be mutated descendants of Valencia oranges from Spain, so bitter that even goats wouldn’t eat them. And while I respect the hell out of Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao for its updated formula and restrained flavor profile, right now I need a little color in my cocktails.