Uplifting the Alcoholic Arts
“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 believe that the wine, cocktail and spirits worlds share more in common than they probably realize. We want to bring them together and shine a light on the many places where their values are entwined.”
I have been thinking about the sentiment and purpose behind this statement on and off for about four months now—ever since Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau launched PUNCH, an online magazine dedicated to drinks and the drinks culture. What I’m continually struck by is there being no mention of a desire by the founders to “educate” their readers. Maybe this is a mistake, to exclude from their description of this fantastic and important new publication any mention of a desire to educate and bring readers up to speed on what they don’t know.
This PUNCH Mission statement acknowledges that we are indeed still in the midst of some sort of driving trend where drinking well and adventurously is central. It also acknowledges that a critical part of this driving moment is tradition and history. I was recently reminded of this when PUNCH ran a short piece on how to concoct a real and true Old Fashioned (I disagree with their use of a splash of soda, but that’s neither her nor there).
But the most interesting part of the PUNCH mission statement is the idea that there are “values” associated with wine, beer and spirits and with the appreciation of them.
I wonder if anyone will disagree that those of us who are alternatively fascinated by, drawn to ,and willing to celebrate the Alcoholic Arts engage ourselves in a pursuit that is completely and altogether driven by a desire to be delighted. This isn’t serious business. It’s not primarily about caring for our friends and family. It’s not a mission to make the world substantially better for those that need a better world. The celebration of the Alcoholic Arts doesn’t have a more rational or just political structure as its goal. It’s really all pleasure. So, pleasure must be at the center of the “values” we find in beer, wine and spirits.
If I’m right about this, then I understand completely why the work that Talia and Leslie are doing at PUNCH appeals to me so much. Every time I read a new entry at PUNCH I feel a little more pleasure seeping into my life. And what is really great is that they are delivering me these moments of pleasure not by trying to educate me, but by trying to elevate my perspective and my appreciation just enough.
I am so grateful that I’ve not been subjected to an article in PUNCH that describes the different varieties grown in the Loire Valley, but instead am asked to contemplate What Wine Sounds Like. I’m grateful that there has yet to be an article on the importance of social media and wine appreciation, and am instead asked to consider M.F.K. Fisher’s Literary Relationship with Wine. And I thank God that instead of being shown just how beautiful the celebrities are who also own a wine brand, I am instead given access into the world of An Auction House Pro Who Confesses the Need to Drink Beyond Cheval Blanc and Old Petrus.
As you look through the various additions to PUNCH, you are going to notice that the writers they’ve engaged all present a more substantial element of introspection that one usually finds in wine-related articles. This provides a certain seriousness to accompany the celebratory note that runs through the whole venture. Most importantly, the editors seem to have insisted that old ground not be plowed through and this means real freshness pervades PUNCH.
I recommend PUNCH as highly as I possibly can for those folks who 1) like to read, 2) are looking for a little bit more than what they usually get from alcohol prose and 3) those who are willing to embrace the pleasure of the Alcoholic Arts without any hint of guilt.