Industries are oft plagued by their respective stereotypes and stubborn archetypes, certain elements grounded in truth, others not. Whether or not an outsider’s perspective of a particular world comes close to approximating truth is irrelevant. What matters is that certain individuals rise to the tops of their fields—new and fresh voices to be heard over the din, speaking across boundaries for all to hear. They seem foreign and strange, almost misplaced in their fields. They’re the singularities, the countertypes, the people who will change things. And if you’re talking about the beverage biz, that’s precisely how you would describe Talia Baiocchi.
In less than ten years, Ms. Baiocchi, Editor in Chief for PUNCH Drink, has managed to crack open the drinking world, appealing to millennials and the imbibers that came before them in a way that few had previously managed. Her unique talent was apparent early on; during previous gigs writing her “Outside the Bottle” column for Wine Spectator and her work as Eater’s Wine Editor, Baiocchi’s voice had a distinctive quality to it. Words leapt off the page with their wit, humor, and clever divergence from the status quo. A world that can often feel exclusive and intimidating to newbies immediately seemed graspable, due in no small part to Baiocchi’s own inimitable personality.
Now waving the flag for PUNCH, an online collaboration with Ten Speed Press, Baiocchi—along with Deputy Editor Leslie Pariseau—is expanding the narrative of drinking culture further still. Informative and absolutely never dull, PUNCH delivers what one might expect from, say, knocking back a few at the bar. In other words: FUN.
Ms. Baiocchi was kind enough to take time away from absurdly busy schedule (her book, Sherry, comes out October 14th of this year, as well as a piece coming out in Bon Appétit) to participate in our Interrogator series.
Place of residence:
Editor in Chief, PUNCH
What do you want to be when you grow up?
One of those responsible people who files taxes a month early and has, like, a filing system.
Quote to live by:
At the risk of sounding cynical, I don’t really do inspirational quotes.
First job you ever had:
Not counting my brief stint as a grade-school entrepreneur—wherein I ran a dog-walking business and a homemade keychain ring—and my middle school years spent coerced into typing letters for my dad at what was, in retrospect, unreasonable pay… a hostess at the Mermaid Inn in the East Village.
Least favorite part of your day:
4:00-4:30 p.m. The moment when I start to want to drink wine, but instead access some deep guilt about drinking at my desk before 5 p.m. (even though I work at home) and then just wait, in patient agony, for the 30 minutes – 1 hour to pass.
Windows down, the song you’re playing is:
Too embarrassing to admit.
Three guilty pleasures:
Naked and Afraid on Discovery Channel, crab stick, shitty airplane wine.
If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?
You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…
Does a million dollars even buy you anything anymore? I’d start with some of Vivian Maier’s incredible street photography, which we are all just getting to know now, five years after her death.
Plane, train or automobile for a road trip?
What IS your favorite road trip?
Highway 1 from Santa Barbara up through Big Sur and on to Mendocino.
Personal travel ethos:
Avoid making plans.
Drink of choice:
All of them?
Beach house or tree house:
Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?
Oof. Hard. The best meal I’ve ever had, in my mind, is not a single meal, but a collection of things I’ve eaten all over the world—fried ortiguillas in Cadiz, pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines, breadcrumbs, pine nuts, raisins) in western Sicily, the crispiest schnitzel in the world at a little café in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, etc. But I guess that’s sort of a cop-out, so single best meal in the last few years I’d say Blue Hill at Stone Barns several Augusts ago. I really do not think there is a better place to eat within 500 miles of New York in the month of August during a particularly strong tomato season.
What is the best news you ever received?
That my parents were leaving Southern California to move to Northern California.
Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to:
The first Doheny Days in 1997 in Dana Point, CA. I was 13 and with two of my girlfriends, without our parents, smoking beedies, getting hit on by skeezy potheads in JNCO jeans, thinking we owned the world. I don’t even remember who was in the lineup that first year, but I believe it was Sugar Ray, Reel Big Fish, Kottonmouth Kings—those homegrown Southern California bands that still sound like middle school to me. That concert was of such a place and time.
Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?
The bar. Just kidding, I am making myself out to be some sort of lush. The real answer is, I run. It’s the only time I can truly zone out.
Photo by Matt Rubin.