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What We’re Into Right Now

A monthly installment covering what, where and how the editors of PUNCH are drinking. This month, a stellar Irish Coffee, Jasnières chenin blanc, Colorado gin and more.

merry widow cocktail

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.

Merry Widow | Chloe Frechette, Assistant Editor
The Merry Widow, sometimes known as the Mary Garden, is a cocktail with many iterations. In its original form printed in the 1931 Old Waldorf Bar Days, it consists simply of equal parts dry vermouth and Dubonnet. My preferred version, however, comes from the updated Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Frank Caiafa, which substitutes Byrrh for Dubonnet and adds orange bitters and an optional dash of Grand Marnier—a popular addition to many drinks of the era. With fewer than five ingredients, it fits the less-is-more approach of my home-bartending regimen, without being short on complexity.

2015 Domaine de la Roche Bleue Jasnières | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
There is so much love for chenin blanc out on the internets today, which is reasonable cause for joy. A grape that had fallen into background noise is now finding its way again. That also applies in California as well as France, where the predilection for Loire whites has gravitated back to places like Vouvray and Montlouis, and to upwelling ones like Saumur. Which brings us to Jasnières, in the Loire’s far north. Jasnières is the Snowpony of chenin appellations, which is to say: you have to have been paying attention to how great it can be. Sebastien Cornille is the emerging maestro of modern Jasnières, making wines under the radar that should easily be catching the same attention as more famous talents. This wine, from a ripe vintage, basks in that bright, lily-and-talc side of chenin. It’s quietly spicy and brisk, but not lean; in fact it’s densely packed and intense. Invigorating, I think, is the word.

Mexican Squirt | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
I was in Oaxaca a couple of weeks ago drinking my weight in mezcal. For me, every few hours I like to pause from sampling straight spirit for either a chelada (simply lime and beer on ice with salt) or a Paloma. Balance is important, after all. While I typically make my Palomas here in the States with fresh grapefruit, lime, simple syrup and soda water, in Mexico it’s all Squirt, all the time. Like Coca-Cola, the Mexican version is made with real cane sugar instead of corn syrup and it drinks infinitely more balanced, more effervescent and less confectionary. Add mezcal and the juice of half a lime and, for me, you’ve got perfection (salt rim welcome). North of the border you can find Mexican Squirt at a number of Latin grocery stores, New York City bodegas or, if you’re diehard and you want to go by the case: here.

Air’s Champagne Parlor | Bianca Prum, Managing Editor
As someone whose deathbed drink is Champagne, this jewel box of a bar from Ariel Arce, formerly of Birds & Bubbles, is my kind of place—a very personal homage to the category that’s also really fun. Arce’s list is well-curated and astonishingly approachable; the current bottle selections from France don’t exceed the upper-$50 range, while the most expensive choice is a domestic that clocks in at $75. The food options include all the other items on my deathbed wish list: caviar service with potato chips, a roving cheese cart, charcuterie and fries. Even the short cocktail list of low-proof drinks is good, like the amontillado/white port/Champagne highball or the Sbagliato variation with Cappelletti and Portuguese sparkling. As a bonus, just one flight down you’ll find one of the fall’s most notable openings, sister bar Tokyo Record Bar, where you can take the party late-night once you’ve had your fill of bubbles.

Baby Negroni at Bar Termini | Lizzie Munro, Senior Editor
Late last year, a few of us found ourselves waxing poetic about the “Snaquiri,” an adorable, downsized Daiquiri, served either as an amuse-bouche or meant to be taken as a shot. Nearly a year after the fact, the Snaquiri still has all its charms, but it’s been displaced, at least in my mind, by another irresistible miniature cocktail, which I came across a month ago in London. There, at the aperitivo-focused Bar Termini, the drinks list kicks off with a selection of four Negronis—ranging from classic to barrel-aged—each one poured directly from the bottle into a tiny cordial glass at the bar. Pre-frozen, filled to the glass’s brim and amounting to just a few ice cold sips, it’s not exactly the most traditional serve. But it is, without question, an excellent way to start the night.

Irish Coffee at Fort Defiance | Allison Hamlin, Social Media Editor
Now that we’ve accepted fall into our hearts, it’s time to turn our attention to a seasonally appropriate coffee beverage—the Irish Coffee. The daytime cousin of the Espresso Martini, the Irish Coffee boasts the four-way punch of booze, caffeine, sugar and, most importantly, cream. And there’s no place to drink one like Brooklyn’s Fort Defiance (but shout out to San Francisco’s Buena Vista Café), where bartenders dry shake chilled heavy cream into a surprisingly dense layer atop the high-octane base below. But don’t just take my word for it, The New York Times called Fort Defiance’s version “the best in the known world”—an endorsement taken so seriously it’s the drink’s only description on the menu.

Woody Creek Colorado Gin | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
I have been drinking a lot of Martinis lately. I typically opt for classic London dry gins for my Martinis, but I’m always on the lookout for a worthy “new world” gin. These, I admit, are few and far between. Too many new gins strive to be different for difference’s sake, before they worry about whether the spirit works in classic cocktails. The latest domestic gin I’ve found that holds its own in a Martini is Colorado Gin from Woody Creek Distillers. Local Colorado juniper is used as well as a whopping 11 additional botanicals. They call it a “combination of classic London dry and New World gin,” but the liquid veers enough toward the former to make for a smashing Martini.

Bee’s Knees | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
My honey obsession has turned into a Bee’s Knees obsession. At any given time, I’ll have a dozen different honeys in my kitchen: cream honey, chestnut, citrus blossom, a heather honey from Scotch producer Glendronach (tops in a hot toddy). Lately, I’ve been messing around with making different honey syrups to use in drinks and came in possession of a jug from the green market from Tremblay Apiaries called Fall Flower honey. It has this unreal, dry leaf funk to it that does magical things in a Bee’s Knees, especially with a gin that’s not terribly juniper forward, like\ Old Tom, taking the cocktail from a light, flouncy spring Gin Sour to something for these cooler months.

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