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.
High Borghese at Mettā | Chloe Frechette, Associate Editor
A personal agenda to persuade a non-New Yorker to move east during a visit this past weekend resulted in a marathon tour of nine bars and eight restaurants across Brooklyn and Manhattan. Of the countless cocktails tasted, there was a clear standout: the High Borghese at Fort Greene’s Mettā. Billed as gin, Salers, lemon, basil and tomato, it is, as my companion described it, a clear “gin banger”—approachable and delicious. But it is also complex; the tomato comes in the form of fermented tomato brine (the water that’s leftover when the pulp is separated from preserved tomatoes, which go towards the Bloody Mary mix) and the lemon juice is bolstered by a housemade citrus cordial. That I need not know any of this to thoroughly enjoy it is exactly what makes bartender Jon Mullen’s cocktails so endearing.
Eduardo Torres Acosta Terre Siciliane ‘Pirrera’ 2015 | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
I caught the bug for Sicilian wine months ago, but now I’m on a full-blown campaign to drink it whenever possible—the weirder, the more obscure the better. Which is why I was delighted to see a bottle of Eduardo Torres Acosta’s merello mascalese-dominant blend on the menu at Fausto. Acosta, a Canary Island native, interned with Arianna Occhipinti and now makes his wine on her estate in Vittoria from grapes harvested from several small plots on Mount Etna. His entry level “Vesante Nord” is outstanding, but the single site “Pirrera” is breathtaking. Lean with an incredible, wiry acidity, and all funky concentrated tobacco and dusty floral aromatics, this is the New Sicilian wine at its finest.
High West Distillery’s A Midwinter Night’s Dram | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
I am a fan of High West’s whiskeys in general. But it’s always a treat when I get my hands on a bottle of its limited release A Midwinter Night’s Dram. It’s a blend of straight rye whiskeys, finished in French oak port barrels. True to its name, it tastes like the sort of whiskey you want to sip on on a snowy winter’s night, preferably sitting before a fire, with warm notes of vanilla, spice and dried fruits. It’s just what I’m looking for as November rolls around. This is the first year High West is using some of its own rye whiskey in the blend, making it just a little more special.
Sharlene’s | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
It’s no secret that I love a good dive, and that I love Sharlene’s, specifically. It’s also a well-known fact that I’m a fan of their infamous bartender, who has single-handedly earned Sharlene’s a slew of one-star Yelp reviews for being “a complete asshole”; for disconnecting the jukebox during shifts; and for being generally off-putting and inattentive. (He’ll typically take orders by asking, blankly, “What do you want?”) On recent visits, however, I’ve noticed that he’s been conspicuously absent, which feels like a missing piece in the great dive bar puzzle. That hasn’t stopped me from going—Sharlene’s will always be exactly the sort of dark, unceremonious cave that I long for on a dreary winter Thursday. Still, I can’t help but hope that I’ll stop by in a week’s time for a $3 High Life, only to be greeted with the familiar deadpan phrase, What do you want?
Thierry Germain Bulles de Roches NV | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
Every time I’m home in the Detroit suburbs, I make a point to stop by Elie Wine Company in Royal Oak. Inevitably, I return to New York with a bottle or two from the Loire Valley’s Thierry Germain in my suitcase. The shop’s owner, Elie Boudt, has been buying Germain’s wines for years and often has bottles that are hard to find in New York’s fast-moving retail world. But this sparkling wine from Germain only recently came across my radar over dinner at Le Mercerie. Predominately chenin blanc from Saumur, it’s barrel-aged for a few months, giving it the concentration that I’m looking for in sparkling wines. Crossing my fingers Elie will put a few bottles aside for me.
Bindi Porcellese Rouge Vielles Vignes 2014 | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
While hardly an undiscovered winemaking region, Corsica does remain something of an under-appreciated (or at least undervalued) one. But Nicolas Mariotti Bindi’s work with the native vermentinu and niellucciu (vermentino and sangiovese, respectively) has caught the attention of wine nerds in a way that stands to change that—and for good reason. This is a sangiovese to covert the sangiovese haters: It’s got all of the dusty cherry notes that have always endeared the grape to me, plus a ton of irony, mineral depth and the don’t-want-meet-you-in-a-dark-alley sort of grit that you often get from Corsican wine. Sourced from old vines planted in alluvial soils and farmed organically, it’s all old-school charm—but fashioned with fresh, able hands.
Grimm Artisanal Ales Upstairs/Downstairs | Jason Diamond, Deputy Editor
Maybe it’s because I love British shows (Grimm is also the name of a BBC period drama) or that I have just gotten to the point where I default to ordering anything brewed up by Grimm, but Upstairs/Downstairs is just the kind of beer I find myself needing this time of year. In other words, not too light, but not quite in the milk-stout-by-the-fire realm either. It’s a citrusy, tropical double IPA with enough punch to make it feel right at home this time of year.
Pét-nat from Southwest France | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
The most familiar pét-nats tend to come from the Loire, but the past months have brought me a string of great examples from farther south. In Gaillac, for instance, the longtime practice of ancestral method sparkling wine lives on, with producers like Marine Leys and the well-known Plageoles. Just beyond the eastern edges of Bordeaux, Isabelle Carles and Franck Pascal make their Jonc Blanc Bulle Rose—in 2017 a remainder of sorts after a nasty spring freeze hammered their vines, but certainly not an afterthought. Made up of the improbable duo of cabernet sauvignon and semillon, it’s got a tiny blush of color and a remarkable density of flavor—the sedate sweetness of light agave, a tobacco-like herbal side and astringency, plus the warmth of the south on display: ripe pear and a mellow spice. As it finally gets cold, pét-nat with amplitude is welcome, and there’s a lot of sunniness captured in bottles like these.