I've been impressed by Talia Baiocchi since I first met her, back when she was working with UK-based wine site WineChap. Talia went on to be the first-ever wine editor at Eater, and she has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle and Wine Spectator (among others). Her book on sherry will be published by Ten Speed Press in fall 2014. As if the book weren't enough, this week she launched Punch, an online drinks and culture magazine—Talia's the editor-in-chief, no big deal.
I checked in with Talia about Punch and the drinks that helped fuel her long workdays leading up to the magazine's debut.
What're you drinking these days, Talia? What drinks have surprised or excited you lately?
Between my book's due date and the launch of Punch I've been pulling some late nights and I must confess that there are few thing better than the midnight Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers.
But on a higher-brow note, I've been drinking a lot of what I've long been attracted to: the Loire (the wines of Domaine de Bellivière are in heavy rotation these days), sherry (my fridge is currently stocked with Barbadillo's seasonal manzanilla en rama bottlings from both winter and autumn), a boat load of Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon 'La Cueille', mezcal (loving Mezcal Vago at the moment), and I've also been sipping on two different Navazos-Palazzi Spanish brandy bottlings—one from fino cask and the new release from Perez Barquero in Montilla. These are revelatory in the context of Spanish brandy, which has long been a troubled category.
What else? Water. I'm trying to drink more water.
Tell us a bit about Punch—how did it come about, what's in it, and what's coming in future issues?
Punch started as a conversation with Aaron Wehner of Ten Speed Press over drinks. As a publisher of food and beverage books Aaron is obviously tuned into the space and we were both sort of lamenting how there seemed to be this rich, varied conversation happening in the food space—both in print and online—that didn't seem to be happening in the same way with drinks, despite that this is arguably the best time to be drinking in America, ever. Our conversation continued and we both felt like together we could add to the greater dialogue around drinks in a meaningful, engaging way through narrative journalism—both written and visual. We went for it, brought on the supremely-talented Leslie Pariseau as deputy editor and assembled a dream team of contributors and photographers that I am incredibly grateful and honored to be working with.
What you'll find on Punch at launch is a collection of stories about everything from the production of illegal moonshine and how it shaped the identity of an entire corner of Kentucky to one guy's quest to immortalize famous bartenders as Lego "minifigs." Our goal is to capture the ethos that's driving drinks forward: the connection of beverage to tradition and place, the passion to innovate and yes—fun. We also, quite simply, want to explore how drinks fit into people's lives in different ways. Photography is also a big part of the vision, so you will see more and more photo essays as the site evolves. On the video front, we're collaborating with Fatstache Productions to come up with some awesome instructionals, mini documentaries, and comic relief.
Lastly, we've been working on a big library of editor-tested cocktails and an A-Z guide to drink that will act as a reference for those navigating the site or just stopping by to find out what the deal is with Chartreuse.
Where do you go for cocktails these days and why?
Leslie and I have been spending a lot of time at TKbar, which is our own private speakeasy within my apartment. Seriously. We've got a test bar set up here, so we've been, over the last few months, hoisting cocktails on unsuspecting visitors.
Beyond that, we spend a lot of time at Maison Premiere and the NoMad and we both love Attaboy. NoMad, to me is making some of the best cocktails in the city, Maison's beverage program is the reflection of an integrated and very complete vision and Attaboy's format and drinks are consistently appealing and innovative. I also love Donna in Williamsburg because, well, Jeremy Oertel's Brancolada (Branca Menta + Piña Colada) is one of the best things ever invented.
What wine lists do you love in Brooklyn and Manhattan right now?
It's beginning to sound like I work for them, but Maison Premiere. I love the list there and have since Krystof Zizka expanded it to include a boatload of muscadet and Champagne over a year ago. I also love Pearl & Ash, but I sound like a broken record. I think Patrick is finally getting his due after toiling in obscurity up at Gilt and it's a great thing to watch.
Pascaline Lepeltier continues to prove that she's one of the country's most thoughtful and talented sommeliers with her list at Rouge Tomate. I also really like Grant Reynolds and Robert Bohr's list at Charlie Bird. It's tightly curated and they have such a feel for how the wines work with the food that it makes for the sort of symbiotic wine experience that takes more effort to perfect than we diners realize.
If you were allowed a case of wine and spirits to keep you in drink over, say, the next month or two, what would you stock up on? 12 bottles, no repeats.
Going everyday drinking-ish here...
Domaine de Bellivière Rouge-Gorge Pineau d'Aunis
Laurent Tribut Chablis AC
Clos de Roilette Fleurie
Gunther Steinmetz Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Feinherb
Broc Cellars Cabernet Franc
Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon 'La Cueille'
Domaine de l'Ecu (Guy Bossard) Muscadet Gneiss
Negronis (Is that an option?)
Yuu Baal Madrecuixe Mezcal
Mezcal Vago Mexicana/Espadin