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Online magazine Punch celebrates cocktails

Leslie Pariseau (left) and Talia Baiocchi of the online magazine Punch.

Daniel Krieger

Leslie Pariseau (left) and Talia Baiocchi of the online magazine Punch.

There’s never been a greater wealth of interest in writing about cocktails and spirits than there is now. But much of that writing, particularly online, tends to arrive in small, blog-sized chunks. Punch, an online magazine that launched this month, wants to have room to get more in depth. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editors Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, in conjunction with Ten Speed Press, are at the helm.

The publisher, known for its cookbooks, decided that “the same sort of energy wasn’t being applied to journalism about drinks, despite the fact this is one of the best times ever to be drinking,” says Baiocchi. “Well, sure it was great in late 1800s, but I wasn’t alive then.” The result is a blend of world-hopping drinks journalism — story-telling from inside craft cocktail bars in Tokyo and Istanbul, for example — along with a recipe database and glossary.

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“A lot of the stories have a personal narrative thread through them,” Baiocchi says. “I think that’s what missing from beverage writing in general. People who write about drinks are usually pretty interesting. Long-form journalism was something I always wanted to do with drinks, and we felt like the Web could be a place for that. What you see on the web specifically for drinks is bloggy stuff.” Not that they won’t delve into more bite-sized content, she says. Photographic essays and a heavily visual component will also be key.

Baiocchi, who was a wine editor at Eater, says rolling out Punch has been a crash course in cocktail education. The editor is a former wine columnist for Wine Spectator, and is also working on a sherry book for Ten Speed. “Sherry” will trace the history of the fortified wine, with a focus on its historical impact in the United States, and its current crossover back into the cocktail world. “Sherry is kind of this rare thing that has inspired evangelism in the cocktail and wine worlds,” she says.

Cocktails, like the Bamboo, and the Adonis, and, of course, the hugely important Sherry Cobbler, have been a driving force in sherry’s reemergence. The Sherry Cobbler, she reminds us, was “like the Cosmo of the 19th century, arguably the most popular drink in America in the second half of that century.”

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The Bamboo and the Adonis are flip sides of a coin, both taking a fino sherry base (the driest style of sherry), vermouth, and bitters. “The Adonis is sort of the beefcake brawnier of the two, while the Bamboo is leaner. I think a lot of what happened after was influenced by these two blueprints. They both exhibit how easy it is to use sherry to add complexity to a drink.”

Luke O’Neil can be reached at
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