A Year Without White Claw, and Other Drinking Resolutions

A handful of our favorite drinkers look back at 2019 to determine what they absolutely won't (and will) do again.

The thing about resolutions is that they’re always twofold: Mapping our intentions for the year ahead is as much about balancing vices as it is championing virtues.

As drinkers, we know that well, and the annual wiping clean of our proverbial slates is rarely without a few foggy memories. But as we reflect on the year’s highs and lows, we’re also given the opportunity to get truly excited about what’s to come—to think bigger, to drink smarter and to seek out more of what we genuinely like. It’s why so many of our intentions to “drink less of this” are coupled with an addendum to “drink more of that.” Because, let’s face it: The boozier the resolution, the more fun it is to keep.

So, as we close the book on 2019—a year in which, frankly, many of us consumed a great deal more than we’d intended—we at PUNCH decided to check in with a few of our friends in the worlds of food and drink to ask how they’ll be drinking come 2020.

David Wondrich | Author and Drinks Historian
I plan to make frequent use of the following phrase: “CC, water back, one Tequila Sunrise.” I’ll need one for my aching head, the other for my bloodshot eyes, both gained by spending more time with my friends in low places.

Eric Wareheim | Comedian and Actor
2020 is the year we bring Zima back into my nightly rotation. Especially Zima Black. This supercharged, Sprite-like elixir is the only thing that gets me going nowadays. Plus, the two-day hangovers are perfect to help me reflect upon the horrors of our world.

Lizzie Munro | Art Director, PUNCH
This year, I’m keeping my resolutions not only practical but well within reach, so here are three: In 2020, I will invest in at least one new set of really nice glassware; I will drink something crisp and refreshing, and preferably expensive, while sitting in a pool; and I will begin to explore ways in which I can fit a wine fridge (literally) into my apartment and (figuratively) into my life. I also intend to shotgun a beer immediately after running the Brooklyn Half, because if we’re kicking off a whole new decade, I want to stick to resolutions that I’m actually going to keep.

Dale DeGroff | King Cocktail
At age 71, musings on alcohol consumption take on a different cast. Moderation started for me at age 55, when the doctor introduced me to liver enzymes and it scared the bejesus out of me. I laid off the sauce cold turkey for a few years. Liver enzymes, for those in the dark about them (as I was), are the little protein enzymes that liver cells unload into the bloodstream when you have ignored the less-subtle warnings, like relieving yourself in the elevator on the way down from a visit to the Rainbow Room bar. Yes, I only 86’d two people in my tenure at the Rainbow Room: one for that, and another drinker who ignored his better judgment and clocked his boss in the nose while having drinks with him.

This year I have a new tactic. I have a finite number of drinks left in my life and I intend to choose them wisely. No shooters or laybacks, both of which are really unsatisfying ways to imbibe. Instead I’ll confine my imbibing to high-quality straight spirits, wine and beer (which are really crossovers into food), and cocktails from bartenders with a reputation for drinks with a high degree of deliciousness.

Talia Baiocchi | Editor in Chief, PUNCH
I didn’t do anything terribly embarrassing this year, which is either reassuring or slightly depressing, depending on how you look at it. Does this mean I’m an adult? A boring loser? Who’s to know! You decide! One thing is for sure, I increasingly spend more time entertaining at home than I do out, and I want that trend to continue. This will also be the year that I finally commit to having an abbreviated list of house drinks on hand for guests. I’m thinking Campari-Soda in an iSi at all times (in an effort to replicate that glorious version at Bar Camparino in Milan), bottled and frozen Martinis at the ready—that kind of thing. On the wine front, I made good on my previous resolution and see no reason why I shouldn’t continue my focus on Italy in 2020.

Katie Parla | Author, Tasting Rome and Food of the Italian South
Last year I made a resolution that seemed simple enough: Drink more water. In spite of living in Rome, a city with literally thousands of spring-quality fountains emitting water FOR FREE all over town, I failed spectacularly. In 2020 I’ll aim a bit lower: Stay hydrated. I also want to stock my home bar with more distillati, especially Capovilla’s incredible eaux de vie made from damsons, Duroni cherries and Williams pears.

Drew Lazor | Author, Session Cocktails; Contributor, PUNCH
Heading into 2019, I resolved to use tequila to get my friends from Baltimore and my friends from everywhere else to hang out. Happy to report it worked! Now that I have successfully *HaCkEd* having friends in your 30s, I will concentrate on earnest self-improvement in 2020. I’d like to memorize enough fun facts about wine to convincingly stumble my way through the thing where nonindustry dinner companions ask me to pick a bottle because they (wrongly) assume I know about wine. I’d also like to stop drinking so much Bud Light Lime. In all honesty, I’m probably not going to accomplish either of these because I’m a deeply trashy and ineffective person, so I’ll set a third, much more achievable goal for myself this new year: not passing out with my contacts still in after spending the night at the bar across the street.

Kaitlin Bray | Director of Audience Development, PUNCH
I had my first “drink” on the eve of Y2K. It was a Budweiser, split with four friends in someone’s parent’s basement, and while I was not that impressed, I wanted to try the whole alcohol thing before all the computers went berserk. Now that I’ve been somewhat regularly poisoning myself for the last 20 years, next year I hope to: 1) not take a single shot; 2) actually update the Google Doc of wines that I like that I made and then promptly neglected; 3) have more at-home aperitivi.

Michael Davies | Co-Host, Men in Blazers

  1. Throw a party at Liquor Locker on Sunset Boulevard. Walked in there last week and there was a party going on and it was both ridiculous and perfect.
  2. Drink more quality alcohol, less often.
  3. Have an affair with a single malt Scotch.

Roger Bennett | Co-Host, Men in Blazers
2019 was a year of American Women’s World Cup Glory, which we celebrated with a national tour, which was propelled by footballing passion, U.S. glory and Budweiser lager. I am 73 percent made of Bud as I sit here and type. In 2020, my resolution is to try and mark every moment of joy that presents itself, big or small, and take nothing for granted. Because of this, I am quite excited by Jägermeister’s release of their cold-brew coffee, which is the original shot blended with some joe and a dash of cacao. I got my hands on a bottle in November and have been rationing it, and intend to reinforce every moment of meaning with a shot in the 12 months to come. Courage.

Aaron Goldfarb | Author, Hacking Whiskey; Contributor, PUNCH
In 2020 I plan to drink fewer unicorns. Let me explain and pardon my haughtiness. When you write about whiskey, the world becomes your boozy oyster and you manage to get barely-fettered access to just about everything. All those legendary bourbons and ryes and single malts and Japanese whiskies mere mortals dream about merely having a sip of? Your house becomes overloaded with them. And soon, it becomes very, very easy for your “daily drinker” to be, like, George T. Stagg or Yamazaki 18. It got to the point this year where I felt like the only thing I was drinking was world-famous barrel-proof bourbons, legendary single barrels of rye, and Islay peat bombs usually stored behind a glass case. But there’s so much more great stuff out there, stuff that isn’t “allocated” and that dudes aren’t quasi-illegally reselling on Facebook. I’ve become determined to explore all the great new American craft whiskeys that are finally at a respectable maturity—Wilderness Trail, New Riff, Woodinville Whiskey and the like. To venture into single malt regions with more delicate and nuanced drams that I’ve long ignored in favor of Islay’s aggression. And, if I don’t like it, I can go back to being a jerk who drinks Weller on the reg.

Chloe Frechette | Senior Editor, PUNCH
I have a growing stash of bottles—rum, whiskey, amaro—that I refuse to open. Some might call it hoarding; I prefer to call it collecting. In any case, it’s not a practical pastime for someone living in a studio apartment. Plus, no matter how rare or limited they may be, these spirits were not designed to sit dormant on a shelf—they ought to be cracked open, poured and enjoyed. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my New Year’s resolution is this: Drink more.

Franz Nicolay | Musician; Author, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control
I’ve played well over a thousand concerts, vanishingly few of them sober. Drinks have been, for two decades now, a part of my onstage experience as a musician, both as a performance enhancer and lubricant (get your mind out of the gutter) and a prop. It’s not that it makes me more confident, or softens performance anxiety (I better just stop saying “performance”): I’ve never had a huge problem with stage fright. Drinking just made me, in the right dosages, a little sharper, a little faster on my feet, a little more “in the moment,” a little more flamboyant. And having a drink—better, a bottle—next to you gives you something to do when the song ends and you need a minute to think what to play next, what to say next, just a breather to reset the mood. Or, in a band setting, when there’s a longish stretch where you don’t need to play, but you can’t just stand around looking useless: Relax, wet the whistle!

But as part of a general program of re-examining my relationship with booze, I’m going to play more sober shows. I tried it once for a long stretch a decade ago, and it made me realize that the music I was playing, unfiltered, didn’t excite me. I’m not going to quit drinking—it brings me too much pleasure, and I think I’ve already righted the pleasure-to-trouble ratio. I just want to make the work stand on its own legs, and keep the drinks in their place: as a pleasure and a prop, not a crutch.

Allison Hamlin | Partnerships Manager, PUNCH
2020 is the year I bring more Austrian wines into my life (see my Thanksgiving and holiday picks for proof of these intentions). I will also invest in a wine fridge so that these new wines will no longer have to live pre-Hogwarts Harry Potter–style in a cupboard under the stairs. (EuroCave, call me?)

For someone who works at a well-respected drink publication, I drank a lot of White Claw in this last trashcan fire of a year. But for 2020, I think it’s time to double down on some other options like crispy farmhouse beers, highballs of all stripes and maybe even a RTD wine spritz or two.

Lizzie Post | Author, Higher Etiquette
2019 was joint-rolled and bowl-packed to the brim for me (more so than usual) putting out a book on cannabis etiquette. For 2020 I’m thus resolving to increase my alcohol adventures. On a trip to Italy, I was reminded that I really do enjoy a good glass of smooth red wine with lunch and dinner (or anytime, really) so a goal on my list is to stock up and have wine on hand again in my household. As an avid golfer, I am going to say yes to more rounds on the course—scores be damned! However, I’m also keen on upping my cocktail party game. Truthfully, I’ve been a bad hostess (shameful to great-great-grandmama’s legacy, in fact); often thinking my house is too small or awkward to host gatherings, I just stopped doing it. I forget that people aren’t attending for the house, they are there for the friends, the booze, the music and something to do. So I’m going to stock the bar (with drinkables and smokables, of course), set out the hors d’oeuvres, crank the tunes and text, DM, handwrite or call to get my invitations out and my friends over. Cheers!

Leslie Pariseau | Features Editor, PUNCH
I really couldn’t tell you what happened in 2019. I can’t deny that things—good things even—did occur because, by this third week in December, I have somehow come away with an MFA, a fiancé, a new home in New Orleans (goodbye, Brooklyn) and three new cases of wine from my two favorite new favorites, Keife & Co. and Faubourg. I know I drank some things, probably mostly wine (and def a few Espresso Martinis), probably mostly at the same four places (Four Horsemen, my kitchen table, Misi and Lilia). I know I learned some things, but with all the doing and the going and the moving, I have done a terrible job at recording what really knocked me over. I am, by nature, terrible at remembering the names of anything—movies, actors, songs, my siblings, myself; unless I write a thing down or see a label, I’m effed. So, in this year, I’m going to be better about writing down what dazzles me. Oh, also, more Sazeracs.

Tatiana Bautista | Assistant Editor, PUNCH
I have a habit of buying aspirational pantry ingredients that I amass at a faster rate than they’re used to cook or bake with. So that means bottles of calamansi juice, ube extract, yuzu juice and ume (salted plum) vinegar—to name a few—that have hardly been used (though purchased with the best of intentions). So, in 2020, I plan to use these ingredients more liberally, and hopefully have some successful cocktail experiments along the way. I’ve already made a calamansi-based Margarita riff, so it’s a start.

Matt Rodbard | Editorial Director, PUNCH
I retired from drinking spirits (and the rest of it) four years ago, though I’m still consistently excited when I open a drinks list—or speak with a bartender about their approach to NA. I resolve to try more, both in restaurants and off the shelves. And ask for more in my flavor zone, which is bitter and sour. I hope that in 2020, more bars embrace what I believe is a cultural shift toward MY TASTE in general. That is, bitter and sour > sweet.

Liina Paavonpera | Photo Assistant, PUNCH
We’re heading back to the roaring ’20s and I think Prohibition. Newly 23, I’ve spent a majority of my life similar to the lives of those in the 1920s, drinking in secret. So with that being said, I look forward to less bootlegging and more (legal) speakeasies for 2020. Oh, and I think I’ll practice ordering less rosé and much more whiskey.

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