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.
Fino Martini at Sager + Wilde | Chloe Frechette, Associate Editor
At the second location of Sager + Wilde, on London’s Paradise Row, the restaurant best known for its wine selection, offers a more robust cocktail program. Naturally, sherry is a key player in many of the drinks on the menu, but it was in the Fino Martini that I most appreciated it. Used in lieu of vermouth, fino served to accentuate the dryness of the drink, adding texture and complexity without stealing the show. Stirred to the perfect temperature and dilution and finished with a lemon twist, it is one of the best Martinis I’ve had in recent memory.
Mezcal Sun-Risa | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
As we maneuver our way through the Age of Instagram, there has emerged a new canon of drinks that I think we can call “clickbait gold”—Negronis, for example; drinks that are strong and stirred with a clear ice cube; and anything that illustrates “expressed citrus” in action. Ignacio “Nacho” Jimenez’s Mezcal Sun-Risa, served at New York’s Ghost Donkey, is one of those drinks. A modified (and much upgraded) Tequila Sunrise, the drink is built in reverse, with a blend of freshly squeezed bitter orange juice, tequila and mezcal creating the bottom layer. On top is a float of hibiscus-habanero syrup, a deeply plum-colored, sweet and spicy mix that’s further infused with orange peels and vanilla bean. Garnished with a dehydrated lemon wheel, it’s a drop-dead gorgeous and extremely delicious drink, which is, as a bonus, easy enough to make at home.
Bicicletta at Dante | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
Within the canon of Italian pre-dinner cocktails, the Bicicletta rarely edges its way past the spritz, the Americano and the Negroni to bask in the aperitivo afterglow. But this simple mix of dry white wine, red bitter liqueur and soda water is a quiet showstopper at New York’s Dante. There they rely on Martini & Rossi’s Riserva Speciale Bitter and discharge the drink from tap, giving it an effervescence that stays consistent to the bottom of the drink. It’s good enough to inspire a Sunday afternoon detour—or four.
Lagavulin 16 Year | Jason Diamond, Deputy Editor
It’s autumn but it’s not—you know what I mean? I have certain things I like to drink during certain seasons, but that in-between the outgoing summer and the incoming fall, really messes me up. Thankfully, there’s always whisky to make any transition easier. Specifically, I’ve been working on a bottle of Lagavulin 16 Year, which I take with a teeny, tiny shot of seltzer. To tell you the truth, I might just keep drinking this throughout the rest of the fall.
Cynar 70 Spritz | Allison Hamlin, Social Media Editor
The summer of the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz may be drawing to a close, but there’s still plenty of seasonal spritzing ahead. As we transition into fall, I’m swapping out my house spritz for an amaro-based version with Cynar. Served with the same 3-2-1 ratio of prosecco, bitter liqueur and club soda, the Cynar Spritz gets garnished with an olive, Padua-style (which also checks all my drinks-as-snacks boxes). Obviously you’re welcome to make it with the original Cynar, but as the days are getting shorter, I’m finding myself looking for a slightly stiffer backbone for my early-evening aperitivo—hence the beefed-up 70 proof formula.
Mini Martinis | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
I love Martinis, but they can hit you pretty hard. Luckily, I’ve stumbled into a small mini-Martini wave in New York. First, I found a miniature Martini at the bar in the Life Hotel in New York’s Nomad neighborhood. It goes for $7; $5 during happy hour. The drawback there is that they only make it with vodka. That’s not a problem at Dante, which just introduced a mini-Martini made with gin, vermouth, saline, verjus and lemon bitters, with a caper berry garnish. That drink is $5, too. With drinks this size, a three-Martini lunch is no problem.
Ti’ Punch Service at Saint Julivert | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
The very thing I love about Ti’ Punch is what makes it counterintuitive to today’s showmanship behind the bar. It’s the sort of thing you make at home: pour some rum in your favorite cup, squeeze in lime, pour in some sugar straight out of the box and give it a quick stir. At Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s new seafood-focused Saint Julivert in Brooklyn, you choose your rum—agricole from Martinique, clairin from Haiti or one from High Wire in Charleston—and the set up comes on petite silver tray with a side car of gomme syrup and some lime wedges so that you can dial in the sweetness and tang that you want. It’s the most grown up Ti’ Punch I’ve ever been involved with.
Luis Seabra Xisto Ilimitado Douro White 2017 | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
Portugal might finally be getting its due. Quite possibly, if you note recent interest in the Azores (island wines!), or a new passel of natural-minded vintners—or this, a model for the New Douro. Seabra was the winemaker at Niepoort, which in addition to Port, pioneered dry white wine from the Douro that aimed at Burgundy quality. If anything, his own wines might be surpassing those of his old day job. This was conceived as a modest, village-level bottle, although I think it lands higher than that. From rabigato, codega, godello and viosinho planted on micaschist and fermented mostly in old barrels, it has the lemon-mineral punch of great Burgundy, plus a ripe pear fruitiness, white poppy and remarkable density. This is sleek, contemporary white winemaking of the highest order.