This Week’s Best Drinks Reads

Welcome to The PUNCHbowl, a weekly installment where we share our favorite longreads on all things drinks and nightlife. This week, we learned about Mexico’s big beer-supported craft beer boom, pictured a vineyard in a war zone and tracked down the boozy dessert from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Mexican micro-beer renaissance
In Mexico, beer is a $20 billion business dominated by two companies who make nearly all the big-name beers you know so well (Corona, Tecate, and Negro Modelo, to name a few). But new ownership on the scene has given independent brewers room to grow, helped along by a thriving gastronomic scene, local pride and surprising support from The Man. [The Washington Post]

A vineyard in a war zone
In spite of being located in the middle of a war zone,  Domaine de Bargylus, Syria’s only commercial winery, persists. Because of the war, Lebanese-Syrian brothers Karim and Sandro Saade haven’t been able to visit their vines in person since 2011 and must run their family business remotely from Lebanon, but they’re still producing wine. “It’s an act of resistance,” says Karim. “At the same time it is a symbol of perseverance, and the fact that we are there, and we’re going to stay there.” The BBC explores the problems the two winemakers face, from grape-transporting logistics to bombs. [BBC]

The Stateside sake boom
America’s craft sake scene is burgeoning, with new members focusing on regionality of ingredients and introducing new drinkers to small-batch, high-quality sake. Food Republic tracks the rise of home-grown sake in the States and what it’s going to take for it to succeed. [Food Republic]

A modern cocktail’s road to classic
Ten years after Sam Ross created the scotch-and-ginger laced riff on the Whiskey Sour—the Penicillin—at Milk & Honey, the drink has become one of the most riffed-on modern drinks. Robert Simonson on how the drink became a global sensation, and the criteria required of a “modern classic” cocktail. [Saveur]

To tax or not to tax
Discussion of soda taxes inevitably sparks impassioned but hypothetical debates invoking American liberties and the dangers of a nanny state. But what happens when we finally have data on the matter—and it tells us it might be a good thing? Wired analyzes how well the tax has worked in Mexico, where it’s been in place in 2013, and what the U.S. can learn from the numbers. [Wired]

Tracking down To Kill a Mockingbird‘s boozy dessert
Trying to find the recipe for the whiskey-soaked “Lane cake” that features prominently in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird proves more trouble than anticipated. NPR goes down the rabbit hole of searching for one Alabaman cake that many have read about but few, it turns out, have tried. [NPR]

[Image: Flickr/ConiferConifer]