New York City is a masa desert. And every food enthusiast knows it.
But sometime in late April I found myself in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood to visit the lone place where tortillas are made the way God intended—For All Things Good, a 2021 recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand. And let me tell you, it was well worth the trek.
The restaurant—which specializes in niche prehispanic Oaxacan dishes such as tlayuditas, tetelas, memelas, and tlacoyos—is a tiny inconspicuous space that grinds its own masa by way of a traditional molino, from a variety of heirloom Mexican corn. At first glance it’s evident that this is not your run-of-the-mill Mexican spot, despite its no-frills decor. You can’t even call it a taqueria. (There are no such items on the breakfast and lunch menus.)
Instead, the short selection is peppered with the delightfully unfamiliar—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 provoke intense cravings. Or the desire to up and go and book a flight to Mexico. And never return.
Order enough food and it’ll feel like a fiesta.
But beyond all that, there’s also the beverage menu, which features a modest but well-curated list of wines, mezcal, tequila, and non-agave-based drinks—such as sotol, Mexican whisky, and Nixta Licor de Elote.
This is where I first had ponche de maíz, a highly refreshing and easy-to-drink punch made with Abasolo—a corn-based Mexican whisky that’s excellent as a base in a multitude of cocktails. But it’s the ponche de maíz, in particular, that makes for memorable drinking because it goes down so easily when you’re in the middle of your seventh tortilla smothered in salsa macha.
The punch calls for six different kinds of fruit and four spices, and hibiscus—which makes the drink both refreshing and complex and fit for summer imbibing, especially when paired with simple but well composed Mexican dishes. But of course, it’s a punch. So there’s no stopping you should you choose to drink it by itself sans food. (It’s delicious that way too.)
Make it for a summer outdoor barbecue with friends or to drink while on the porch with loved ones. Either way, there’s no going wrong.
PONCHE DE MAÍZ
15 ounces of Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky
1.5 liters of filtered water
2 apples, roughly chopped
2 pears, roughly chopped
10 tejocote stone fruit, roughly chopped
4 guava, roughly chopped
2 mandarins, roughly chopped
2 pieces of tamarind, roughly chopped
1 cup dried hibiscus
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
¼ piece of vanilla bean
Directions: Roughly chop all fruit and combine dry ingredients into water over medium-low heat for 60 minutes. Cool, strain, and pour into a vessel. (Leave the whisky alone, for now)
To Build: Serve 1.5 ounces of Abasolo with 5 ounces of punch—and don’t forget to stir.
Optional: If you’re hosting, use a punch bowl and incorporate the whisky into the punch and let your guests serve themselves.