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.
Cucumber at The Pool Lounge | Chloe Frechette, Assistant Editor
Absinthe isn’t the first spirit that springs to mind when conjuring poolside drinks. But at the newly opened Pool Lounge, where the cocktails playfully nod toward the tropics, beverage director Thomas Waugh recasts the assertive base spirit in one of the most approachable drinks on the menu. Reminiscent of Maison Premiere’s beloved (and bygone) Walcott Express, Cucumber combines cucumber-infused absinthe, lime and cane syrup, elegantly presented over crushed ice in a cucumber-lined glass, for poolside refreshment at its most refined.
2016 Broc Cellars Vine Starr Sonoma County Zinfandel | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
California has been on our minds this past month, as wildfires burned so much in Sonoma, Napa and beyond. And even if it’s a modest gesture, drinking wines from these places is especially poignant right now. So while I always love Vine Starr, Chris Brockway’s tribute to the old classic style of fresh, food-friendly zinfandel, drinking the 2016 last week was especially meaningful. The wine comes from two vineyards on the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas range: Buck Hill, in the Fountaingrove area, which suffered significant fire damage (its owner lost his home) and Arrowhead Mountain in Sonoma Valley, where most of the surrounding woods burned. Despite the damage, both vineyards are likely to recover, and meantime, this bottle: With an innate crunchiness to the flavors, and more dark fruit this vintage, plus bay laurel and poppyseed spice, it’s a particularly joyous reminder of why zinfandel from this part of the world can be so special.
The Reserve Menu at Clover Club | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
Clover Club, the dependable cocktail bar in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, recently flipped their menu. One of the new menu sections is titled ‘The Reserve,’ and it’s easily one of the more exciting things they’ve attempted in some time. It’s composed of five cocktails, most of them classics, and all of them made with higher-end spirits. For instance, the Manhattan, called the Clover Manhattan, is made of Wild Turkey Rare Breed bourbon and a dash of ‘cherry business’ that is composed of four different brands of cherry brandy and cherry liqueur. Other selections are experimentally luxe versions of the Brandy Crusta and Boulevardier. All are priced at a quite reasonable (considering the spirits being used) $20.
Monarch and the Milkweed | Allison Hamlin, Social Media Editor
Monarch and the Milkweed—a self-dubbed “fine diner”—opened last year in a downtown section of Burlington, Vermont (my hometown) next to the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s. The cocktail list, from Jeff Bauman (Great Northern, Prohibition Pig) includes dill- and green Chartreuse-laced gimlets, pre-batched two-ounce Negronis (your choice of rosso or bianco) and an Ancho Chile Milk Punch, among other updated classics. There’s also a thoughtful selection of local beer and wine. In a college town, and in a state with the highest number of breweries per capita, it’s an ambitious project. I certainly never thought I’d see Suze make it on a cocktail menu in Burlington, but it seems to be working.
2015 Joan D’Anguera Altaroses | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
In past vintages this garnacha (granatxa in old Catalan) from Montsant has been perennially delightful, offering easy-to-love red berry fruit and light-handed spice. But with the 2015, I found that it has a bit of an edge, like that girl in teen flicks who discovers eyeliner and hair product and suddenly stands up for herself. Winemaker brothers Joan and Josep d’Anguera fully converted to biodynamics in 2012, but in the past few years they’ve been gradually increasing their use of whole bunches, and harvesting earlier. Today’s Altaroses is more structured and tarry as a result, but still has those aniseed aromatics and that friendly, fruit-centric core that have me picking up a couple bottles whenever I can.
NV Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara Premium | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
I respect Lambrusco’s place in the sparkling wine pantheon, but, to be frank, I’ve never been terribly compelled by it. The worn excuse is that there just isn’t enough good Lambruschi in the U.S. market, but that hasn’t been true for at least a half-decade. There are a number of excellent producers available here (Saeti, Paltrinieri, Lini), but it’s Chiarli’s rose-hued “Premium” bottling (h/t Bonné) that I’ll now be stocking year-round. Light, dry and juicy—it ticks all the boxes for me. Plus, at 11 percent ABV and $17 bottle, it’s the ultimate party wine.
Broken Shaker at the Freehand Los Angeles | Bianca Prum, Managing Editor
A recent trip to LA reaffirmed two things: that Downtown is my current favorite neighborhood to drink in, and that you can’t go wrong at a Broken Shaker. With two other outposts under their belt, the burgeoning Freehand Hotel empire has their brand of cheeky, hip nostalgia down pat, and this newest addition is the slickest of them all. While Miami skews more full-on tropical, the vibe here is tropics by way of a retro lodge, with unobstructed surrounding skyline views that might be the best in the neighborhood. The drink list includes a few Broken Shaker classics but mostly new original options, many both complex and easy-drinking—such as the slightly savory Coco-Nutcase, an elevated combo of tequila, coconut, lime, clement mahina, makrut lime agave and a hit of sea salt.
Freeze-Ahead Manhattan | Lizzie Munro, Senior Editor
We’re big fans of the freeze-ahead Martini here at PUNCH, whether it’s the bracingly cold (and oft Instagrammed) version served at The Bar, or that in our own office freezer, where we keep a pretty steady supply. Recently, however, we extended our chilled office offerings to include a few bottles of ready-made Manhattans, built with Wild Turkey 101 overproof rye, Carpano Antica and Angostura bitters, all pre-diluted with filtered water. As per usual, the technique makes for a drink with a particularly viscous and creamy texture, ultimately guaranteeing a dangerously drinkable cocktail—no stirring required.