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.
Alessandro Viola Catarratto “Il Mie Origini” 2018 | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
I’ve been drinking Alessandro Viola’s grillo bottlings like water for the last few years. His takes on the native Sicilian grape from Alcamo, on Sicily’s western side, are among my favorite (along with Marco de Bartoli’s “Grappoli del Grillo” from nearby Marsala) expressions of the grape: savory, generous, but still backed up by an acidic streak. But it’s his latest release of “Il Mie Origini,” made from the catarratto grape, that ranks among the best white wines I’ve had from Italy in recent months. It’s ripe and concentrated—almost creamy—and sees a bit of skin contact, giving it another layer of texture and depth, but not without a clean, precise note of minerality. For me, it’s a whole new way to see the grape.
Fabbri Amarena Cherries | Kaitlin Bray, Director of Audience Development
The first time I came across a Luxardo cherry, it was a revelation. Sunk unceremoniously in a Manhattan, it was sweet, tart and insanely rich. But it turns out, there’s more than one old-school Italian cherry-maker in town. The Fabbri family has been preserving wild Amarena cherries in Emilia-Romagna since 1905. While one of their iconic white and blue crocks will set you back around $20, it’s well worth it if Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds or Rob Roys are part of your winter survival strategy. Beyond the cherries, you can add a spoonful of the syrup into a glass of prosecco (as the Fabbri’s suggest), or to elevate pretty much any dairy product with a drizzle (ice cream, cheesecake, brie or my personal favorite, panna cotta).
Buddha Bless at Win Son | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
Creature of habit that I am, on recent visit to Brooklyn’s Win Son, a Taiwanese-American restaurant in East Williamsburg, I was tempted to order the Gibson—in this case made savory with additions of rice wine and pickled ramps. But I made a hard left turn when I noticed one of my favorite aperitifs called out on the cocktail list: L.N. Mattei Cap Corse Blanc. For the Buddha Bless cocktail, a simple sour served over one large rock, the blanc quinquina was paired, unexpectedly, with the highly aromatic, and very funky, Ming River Sichuan Baijiu. With additions of lime and celery seed, the drink was a highly savory, balanced and ultimately pleasant surprise well suited to a rainy Tuesday evening, and a good reminder that it never hurts to break out of your comfort zone.
Fruktstereo “Desencidré” 2017 | Chloe Frechette, Senior Editor
When Swedish sommeliers Karl Sjöström and Mikael Nypelius began making cider and fruit pét-nat in Malmö in 2016 their intention was to create, in their words, “authentic wines with a clear expression from the origin and with a energetic drinkability.” This latest release, “Desencidré” is just that. Made from a blend of apples, pinot noir, sloe berries and beetroot collected from their own gardens, abandoned orchards and local farmers, the fruit pét-nat (or “veggie pét-nat” as they like to call it) is ideal drinking for this time of year—effervescent, semi-dry and with just the right amount of funk.
Marie Courtin Resonance Extra Brut | Leslie Pariseau, Features Editor
Dominique Moreau is spiritual about Champagne-making. This particular cuvée, Resonance, is named after the balance between earth and sky, whose symbiotic relationship informs the terroir of her single-vineyard, single-variety, no-dosage, biodynamic wines. Fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts, Resonance is a pure, edgy example of Moreau’s meticulous style. The winery, located in southern Champagne in the Côte des Bars, is named for Moreau’s grandmother whom she calls “a woman of the earth.” I picked this bottle up from my friend Ashley Santoro who just opened a fabulous little wine shop in Chinatown called Leisir, which specializes in organic and biodynamic wines—absolutely worth a stop if you’re in the neighborhood.
Lagavulin Offerman Edition | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
I have no taste for celebrity spirits, whether the stars in question actually made the spirits, consulted on them, tasted and approved them, or merely slapped their name on the label, took the money and ran. But I can appreciate it when the spirit in question has a sense of humor about the whole business, which is certainly the case with the new Lagavulin Offerman Edition, aged 11 years. I understand that actor Nick Offerman himself likes Scotch. But anyone who’s watched Parks and Recreation knows that this bottling didn’t come about because a semi-famous television actor likes whisky. It exists because the fictional character Offerman played, bizarrely opinionated but lovable Libertarian Ron Swanson, drank Lagavulin. Is it good? It’s Lagavulin. Of course it’s good, even if its relative youth shows. The real value, though, in buying this limited edition is the wooden tasting tray that comes with it. Offerman is a known and skilled woodworker. The tray comes from his hands, if we’re to believe what Lagavulin’s PR tells us. Now that’s some real hardcore Ron Swanson shit.
Georgas Family Tonino 2018 | Tatiana Bautista, Assistant Editor
I was initially drawn to this rosé pét-nat because of its 500mL bottle—I was splitting it with one other person and we weren’t trying to drink too much. (And re-corked bottles just end up being forgotten on the side of my refrigerator door.) The blend of merlot, malagousia and savatiano is super fresh and juicy with the slightest bit of effervescence. This probably would have been my go-to summer drink had I discovered it earlier, but it’ll still serve as a reminder of warmer weather as the sun starts going down at 4 p.m.
John Brown Underground | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
Lawrence, Kansas, is a town full of surprises. And tucked away under a black awning under a breakfast restaurant, is perhaps one of its greatest, at least where drinking is concerned. The basement bar serves as a reminder of what drove America speakeasy-mad in the last decade—a tiny bar with closely attentive bartenders, devoted to patiently expanding your mind one drink at a time. Of course, as with all things, that shine has worn off in most places, but the spirit of discovery and a modern cocktail stewardship is still alive and well at John Brown Underground. Standouts from their “Blueprints” menu included the Amoxicillin Variation C, a sort of Daiquiri–Penicillin mashup, and Malt & Purpose Variation A, a Midwestern-style brandy Old-Fashioned made with malted milk.