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Ponche Villa

Ponche Villa
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

When Mexican Americans begin celebrating the extended Christmas season this Saturday on the feast day of Guadalupe, they will enjoy one big change from a few years ago: ample supplies of tejocote, a peculiar crab-apple-like fruit that most people have ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes plus chilling time for the ponche | Makes 25 cocktails

For the ponche

  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh whole tejocotes
  • 1 pound piloncillo
  • 12 prunes, halved
  • 1 pound peeled sugar cane, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound canela cinnamon sticks, broken up
  • 1 1/2 pounds guavas, quartered
  • 2 pears, quartered (preferably Anjou)
  • 2 apples, quartered (preferably Gala)
  • 10 tamarind pods, each peeled of its tough outer shell
  • 1 gallon water
  • 12 dried hibiscus blossoms

Step 1In a medium, heavy-bottom pot, mix together the tejocotes, piloncillo, prunes, sugar cane, canela, guavas, pears, apples, tamarind pods, water and hibiscus blossoms. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the liquid darkens and reduces by about half, about 1 hour.

Step 2Remove from heat and pass through a mesh strainer to make the ponche (the mixture will not be entirely clear). Discard all the ingredients except the ponche and the tejocotes. Place the simmered tejocotes in a small bowl with ponche to cover and chill; these will be used as a garnish in the final coctels. Cool the ponche and refrigerate for one night to mature the flavor. This makes a generous 1 1/2 quarts ponche.

Cocktail assembly

  • 2 ounces ponche
  • 1 ounce mezcal, preferably Del Maguey's Crema de Mezcal or Chi Chi Capa
  • 2 dashes Fee Bros. West Indian orange bitters
  • 1 tejocote, skewered with a wooden or sugar cane skewer
  • 1 thin slice of Fuyu persimmon
  • 1 tamarind bean, peeled of its outer bark

Step 1In a cocktail shaker, combine the ponche, mezcal and bitters. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the skewered tejocote, persimmon slice and tamarind bean.

Note: Adapted from a recipe by John Rivera Sedlar with Julian Cox. Sedlar writes, "I've always enjoyed this classic holiday 'ponche.' I like how it doesn't have that cloying over-spiced sweet character of the usual holiday spice drinks. The tejocotes really add depth and character to the beverage." Sedlar prefers jarred tejocotes from Guelaguetza, which he says are not too sweet. He also prefers Del Maguey's Crema de Mezcal. Piloncillo is Mexican brown sugar; it and sugar cane, tamarind pods and dried hibiscus blossoms are available at Mexican groceries.


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