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What We’re Into Right Now

American single malt, a dead-simple Margarita riff, California chenin 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.

McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt | Chloe Frechette, Senior Editor
One of the pioneers in the burgeoning category of American single-malt whiskey, McCarthy’s is produced at Clear Creek Distillery using 100 percent peat-malted barley from Scotland, before being aged for three years in Oregon oak. Though master distiller Steve McCarthy sold his distillery to Hood River in 2014, the lineup of craft spirits he introduced remain some of the finest around, and this Oregon single malt is no exception: clean, balanced and sophisticated—what more could you want?

The Yellow Parrot at Maison Premiere | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
This drink truly makes no sense. A combination of Vieux Pontarlier absinthe, yellow Chartreuse and apricot liqueur, stirred and served over ice, the cocktail, which was allegedly created at The Stork Club in the 1930s, reads like a bona fide sugar bomb. But it is, by some mystery of science, at once herbal, savory, bitter—and, most of all, balanced. Better yet, it changes dramatically as it continues to dilute, its components constantly shifting positions in the drink’s flavor hierarchy. It would have never ended up in my hand if I hadn’t given Steven Rhea, one of the bartenders at Maison, a “dealer’s choice” call, and I am glad I did. I’ve been back for it twice since.

Haarmeyer Rorick Heritage Vineyard Calaveras County Chenin Blanc 2016 | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
Sacramento’s Craig Haarmeyer is on a mission to make California chenin great again. This actually makes a lot of sense, since the Clarksburg area outside the state’s capital was historically an important growing area for the grape. But for this, Haarmeyer looked a bit further, up into the hills of arid Calaveras County, and got grapes from the vineyard of Matthew Rorick, who makes his own great whites under the Forlorn Hope label. This is the electric juju of chenin blanc: so much smoky flint and earthy cardoon and a crazy stone side, and then astonishing density, like a solid wall of Meyer lemon. It has the sort of intensity you find in Loire spots like Savennières, but with a lot less alcohol (11.4 percent) and, of course, a sunnier Cali disposition.

Copper & Kings’ “A Song For You” | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
Louisville’s Copper & Kings has been producing some of the best brandy in the United States since they opened five years ago. Now, to celebrate that milestone, they’ve released what may be their best brandy yet. Called A Song For You, it was blended five years ago from sourced American brandies, ranging from eight to 18 years of age, and matured in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The result, bottled at 100 proof, is rich, oily and toasty with a panoply of stone-fruit notes. There are only a few hundred bottles, so seek it out while you may.

All of the Sake at Tsubaki | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
My recent dinner at LA’s Tsubaki was not only one of the best meals I’ve had in ages (abalone! sweetbreads! chicken hearts!), it also made for one of the most memorable drinking experiences I’ve had in a while. Courtney Kaplan’s concise list of sakes, which stands alongside a thoughtfully chosen selection of French wines, is as approachable as it is delicious. Scattered alongside fresh, spritz-y selections, like the Fukucho Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu, a seasonally released, unpasteurized sake, are burlier, earthier expressions, like the Mana 1751 Tokubetsu Yamahai Junmai Muroka Genshu. That’s all to say that you can easily find yourself three sakes deep in the span of just a few hours—which may or may not have been my approach, for which I have no regrets.

Bodegas Riojanas “Monte Real” Gran Reserva 1973 | Leslie Pariseau, Features Editor
I rarely get to taste really old wines, mostly because I only started collecting a few years ago and because my budget is fairly everyman. But recently Mannie Berk, founder of The Rare Wine Co., very kindly took pity on this rare wine novice and invited me to a vertical tasting of Bodegas Riojanas. We tasted Monte Real Gran Reserva reds from 1942 up to 2011, the oldest of which were still remarkably fresh. But the wine that really stuck with me was a quieter number—a 1973 white, which was 40 percent viura, plus some malvasia, garnacha blanca and maturana. Today, Bodegas Riojanas’ whites are made to be drunk younger, with less time in barrel (this guy was aged for two years on the lees and spent nearly 45 years in a bottle); they haven’t made wines like this since the 1980s. So, in a way, it was like time traveling back to a moment when things were just a little bit slower, which is something I crave in almost everything these days.

Blue Vino Glass | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
There’s a lot of snobbery about what sort of glass you should drink wine from, but lately, I’ve been into the rainbow of colored glassware that seems to be having a moment in the tabletop design universe. My obsession started with a stop by Merçi in Paris last year and it’s been all pinks and ambers and greens in my world ever since. These Blue Vino glasses, from R+D lab are mouth-blown in Italy from borosilicate glass with sheared angled sides and a nice, thin lip, requiring not much more thought than that.

Mayahuel Mezcal Margarita | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
Tis the season for all sorts of takes on the Margarita template. My inbox has been awash in pitches for chocolate Margaritas, habanero-infused, Aperol-laced versions, “healthy takes” with green juice and a bewildering assortment of vaguely sex-themed variations. Please stop. But if you insist on drinking an agave cocktail to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, may I suggest the ultimate in simplicity, Phil Ward’s three-ingredient Mezcal Margarita.

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