New York City is a Masa desert. And every food enthusiast knows that.
But sometime in late April, I was in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood to visit the lonely place where tortillas are made as God intended –For All Things Good, a 2021 recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand. And let me tell you, it was worth the trip.
The restaurant – which specializes in niche prehispanic Oaxacan dishes such as tlayuditas, tetelas, memelas and tlacoyos – is a small, eye-catching space that paints its own masa using a traditional molino from a series of heirlooms of Mexican corn. At first glance, it is clear that this is not your Mexican place despite its no-frills decor. You can not even call it a taqueria. (There are no such things in the breakfast and lunch menus.)
Instead, the short selection is spiced with the wonderfully unknown – at least for New Yorkers. Think: hibiscus flower and salsa chipotle tetelas, pinto bean and salsa macha tlacoyos or mole amarillo and queso fresco memelas – all of which evoke intense cravings. Or the desire to travel and book a flight to Mexico. And never return.
Order enough food and it feels like a fiesta.
But in addition to all this, there is also the drinks menu, which contains a modest but well-curated list of wines, mezcal, tequila and non-agave-based drinks – such as sotol, Mexican whiskey and Nixta Licor de Elote.
It was here that I first had ponche de maize, a very refreshing and easy-to-drink punch made with Abasolo – a corn-based Mexican whiskey that is excellent as a base in a host of cocktails. But it is especially the ponche de maiz that provides memorable drink because it goes down so easily when you are in the middle of your seventh tortilla smothered in salsa macha.
The punch requires six different kinds of fruit and four spices and hibiscus – making the drink both refreshing and complex and suitable for summer imbibing, especially when paired with simple but well-composed Mexican dishes. But of course it’s a blow. So you can not stop if you choose to drink it by itself without food. (It’s delicious that way too.)
Turn it into a summer outdoor barbecue with friends or to drink while on the porch with your loved ones. Either way, nothing goes wrong.
15 ounces Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whiskey
1.5 liters of filtered water
2 apples, coarsely chopped
2 pears, coarsely chopped
10 tejocote stone fruit, coarsely chopped
4 guava, coarsely chopped
2 tangerines, coarsely chopped
2 pieces of tamarind, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried hibiscus
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
¼ piece of vanilla bean
Driving directions: Roughly chop all fruit, and combine dry ingredients in water over medium-low heat for 60 minutes. Cool, strain, and pour into a container. (Leave the whiskey alone for now)
To build: Serve 1.5 ounces of Abasolo with 5 ounces of punch – and do not forget to stir.
Optional: If you are the host, use a punch bowl and incorporate the whiskey into the punch and let your guests serve themselves.