Punch regularly organizes blind tastings of cocktails, spirits, wine, beer and more to determine the best examples in a given category without bias.
In addition to Punch editorial staff, tasting panels typically include professional bartenders, sommeliers, writers or critics for additional insight into a given topic. Their presence will always be disclosed.
For The Ultimate Series, the objective is almost always to find the most archetypal example of a particular classic cocktail, one that all of the judges would be happy to receive if they ordered said cocktail at a bar without specifying any particular spirit brand, ratio or preparation. Recipes that are too difficult to recreate at home—whether due to technique or ingredients—are ineligible for consideration.
The objective of spirit, wine and beer tastings varies on a case-by-case basis, but will be clearly set forth in the recommendation-driven story that comes out of any given tasting.
Cocktail tastings are held across New York at a number of different bars, where the recipes are prepared by a professional bartender to the exact specifications of the submitted recipe. The tasting panel cannot see the drinks being prepared nor do they know whose recipes are represented in the tasting. For non-cocktail tastings, which typically take place at our New York office, bottles and labels are obscured to ensure objectivity.