This Week’s Best Drink Reads

Welcome to The PUNCHbowl, a weekly installment where we share our favorite longreads on all things drinks and nightlife. This week, we speculated on the real influence of Champagne, traveled to Ireland with a relative of Joe Sheridan and learned everything we needed to know about the history of tiki.

Why is the majority of American beer so damn weak? The Atlantic and professor Ranjit Dighe argue that we can blame the temperance movement, America’s puritanical history, and factory workers who just wanted to drink during their lunch break. Despite all the buzz about the craft beer movement, those more flavorful beers still take up only 10 percent of the market—whereas mass-produced beer has been dominating since the 1800s. [The Atlantic]

Mike Veseth’s new book Money, Taste & Wine – It’s Complicated! dives deep into the history of Champagne and how it has affected not only the wine world, but also the world economy at large. In an excerpt, Veseth explores the complicated story behind the the region’s influence on the rest of Europe and how it started the whole fight over food-naming laws in the first place—and why Champagne became so expensive. [Fortune]

What would you do if you discovered you were related to the inventor of Irish Coffee? Probably exactly what writer Lisa Jackson did: travel to the tiny Irish town of Foynes (also once known as a center of aviation during WWII) where it all began, to seek out her family heritage and get a taste of Joe Sheridan’s creation in its local habitat. [Roads & Kingdoms]

Tiki culture is undeniably in the midst of a resurgence, Amy McCarthy details the rise and fall of the cocktail style-cum-way of life, its 1930s heyday, the “Mad Men Effect,” and how it eventually became engrained in to the American cocktail experience despite its more warm-weather inspirations. [Eater]

The post-Katrina restaurant and bar scene in New Orleans is proving stronger than ever: Not only have old favorites (including Commander’s Palace and Willie Mae’s Scotch House) bounced back from the damages inflicted, but countless new venues (Shaya, St. Roch Market) have sprouted up all around the city. Some experts point to the phenomenon of “Creolization” as a reason for the city’s ability to rise to the occasion; the New York Times explores. [The New York Times]

One man’s experiences with planned agricultural communities begs the question: Is there a place today for communities that embrace both the neighborliness of suburbia and the serenity of farm life? For those who feel like giving (some of) it all up and going back to the land, rural communes from California to Illinois to Virginia are offering utopian lifestyles that put nature and communal living—and the chance to have your own vineyard—at the forefront. [Modern Farmer]

[Photo: Flickr/Paul O’Donnell]