Travel Guides for Un-tourists


Q&A With Allison Hamlin of PUNCH

by Fernanda DeSouza

posted on November 10, 2017

Photo Courtesy: Lizzie Munro

Allison Hamlin knows a thing or two about cocktails. We had a chance to talk to Hamlin, who is currently the social media editor at PUNCH, about her love for drinks, what influenced her to pursue her career, and what her drink of choice is at home and a night on the town.

Dying to know where Hamlin goes out for a drink? Check out her guide, and you may just discover your new haunt.

I’m originally from Essex Junction, Vermont. I went to undergrad at UVM and majored in history and anthropology and food systems. After I graduated, I knew I wanted to peruse that further, and especially learn how an urban food system functioned, which is how I ended up studying in the NYU Food Studies Masters’ Program.

When I moved to NYC, I was a part time student and needed a job. I’d been working in restaurants and hospitality my whole life, but knew I wanted something a less demanding and stressful. I’d always loved education, so when I found Astor Center—a culinary and beverage education center affiliated with Astor Wines and Spirits—I jumped at the opportunity. I was very green coming into that job, but I had done a lot of research on terroir in Vermont cheesemaking and wanted to see how those concepts would play out in wine. I tasted A LOT of wine in the three years I worked there. Eventually, I moved from coordinating the culinary events to running the entire public education program—we offered everything from wine tasting and pairings, hands-on cocktail classes, spirits tastings and more. That environment was really the catalyst for my interest in drinks and has served as a really strong foundation for my career in the space.

I love to drink and talk about it and share that with people. It makes it really easy to come into work every day when you can do the thing you love.

Soda stream seltzer with lemon. I’m addicted. But an actual drink? I’ll prebatch Martinis with a little preserved lemon and leave them in the freezer to pour when I want a little something but don’t want to go through all the trouble of making something and cleaning up.

Depends! At a cocktail bar, my usual move is to order something off the cocktail list and see how it turns out. If I trust them and like it, I’ll continue in that vein. Always a sucker for a frozen drink or a 50/50 Martini (equal parts dry vermouth and gin). Really crushing on northern Rhône reds and feinherb (off-dry) Rieslings, and beers from Mikkeller.

After Astor, I was as the deputy director for Heritage Radio Network, a non-profit food radio network based in a shipping container in the back of Roberta’s in Bushwick. There I worked with 30+ hosts to develop and concept their shows, promote their content and reach listeners around the world with their programming. HRN definitely taught me a lot about how to create and support a community, both online and off. But drinks pulled me back again! I joined the PUNCH team almost a year ago, and get to be the translator between our incredible group of writers and our very thirsty audience.

Drinks and drinking are a lens through which we can view so much—culture, history, craft, design…so many facets of our experience. We’re not here to be prescriptive and tell you how you should be drinking. It’s more about having a conversation about the overlap and shining some light on things we think are worth talking about—for example, why do critics love super-rare beers? Why do we still design bars like speakeasies?

We also try and cover a really practical angle on drinks and drinking while keeping a lot of the context. So, if you want a wine round-up, you’re going to get a little history about natural wine in the Loire valley. If you want a bar review, you’re going to learn about the culture of writers’ haunts in Greenwich Village. Those are the stories I get excited to share with people via social media.

Looking to rub elbows with Hamlin at one of her favorite bars? Find out where she frequents and what she orders around the city, then drink up!

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