Ponche en Nogada
Who better to conceive LA magazine’s punch of the year than barman extraordinaire Julian Cox, mixologist at Rivera, Playa, Sotto, Picca and the recently opened Short Order? The delectable result—being poured throughout the holiday season exclusively at Playa on Beverly—is a whimsical and ethereal concoction inspired by chiles en nogada, a fall dish from Puebla, Mexico, reportedly first prepared for Emperor Agustín de Iturbide back in the 19th century. Like the dish, Cox’s mezcal-based punch features fresh cream and pomegranate, with a hearty, flavorful note of nocino (walnut liqueur). Get it while you can.
PONCHE EN NOGADA
6 eggs, separated
¾ cup holiday-spiced piloncillo syrup
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¾ cup amontillado sherry
2 ¼ cups poblano-infused Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
⅓ cup nocino
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp evaporated cane sugar (table sugar or turbinado can be substituted)
Cilantro for garnish
Using stand or hand mixer, beat yolks until they lighten in color. Add syrup and beat until emulsified. Add cream, sherry, mezcal, nocino and nutmeg and mix. Place egg whites in separate bowl and beat to soft peaks with clean whisk attachment. With mixer running, gradually add sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk egg whites into cream-and-egg mixture and chill. Serve very cold, garnished with fresh pomegranate seeds and cilantro.
Holiday-Spiced Piloncillo Syrup
½ tsp whole cloves
1 stick canela (Mexican cinnamon), broken into small shards
Piloncillo (Mexican cone sugar; can use turbinado or raw sugar)
Place spices in small skillet over medium-low heat and toast by moving pan back and forth until aroma is released. Remove from heat and cool. Repeat twice or until spices are very aromatic. Measure 1 part water to 1 part piloncillo by weight (e.g., 400 grams piloncillo to 400 grams water measured on a digital scale, or about 1 ⅓ cup each of piloncillo and water). Dissolve in nonreactive saucepan. Add cloves and cinnamon to sugar mixture and bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. When cool, put through chinois or strainer.
Poblano-Infused Mezcal Vida
1 large seeded poblano chile
2 ¼ cups of Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
Dice poblano and add to mezcal. Infuse 45 minutes, agitating and tasting to determine spiciness. For more spice, add poblano seeds or infuse slightly longer. Taste frequently, as chiles vary in hotness. The chile should provide a pleasant taste that does not linger. If it starts to linger, strain. To dial back heat, add more mezcal. Put through chinois or strainer.
PUNCHBOWL AND LADEL: TableArt
SURFACE: Mission Tile West