Mexico, mescal and more
At last, a Mexican restaurant and bar that has the theme down pat. Transforming a Bukit Pasoh Road shophouse (once home to the Keow Siong Club) into a vibrant space with vivid colours, skulls, masks and murals, Casa Poncho (by the team behind 13% Gastro Wine) impresses with its selection of mescal, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from an agave plant native to Mexico. Mescal is its favoured spirit, as it has a more varied and nuanced profile than tequila. Cocktails feature 45ml pours, and the tart yuzu-laced Mezcal Margarita ($20) goes down easily while still delivering a punch. The Gregorio Negrito, or Mezcal Reposado (aged up to nine months), and bitters like Antica Formula and Campari come in a skull-shaped glass and have an enjoyable bitter finish with sweet undertones. Most cocktails feature the Machetazo brand of mescal that the owners import directly (from Guerrero, San Luis Potosi and Oaxaca in Mexico). It’s brewed, aged and distilled from wild-grown agave, using traditional methods. You’re encouraged to sip it straight or have a shot.
A comprehensive menu of Latin American sharing plates (or pequenitos) awaits you. The Guacam…Ole! ($12) offers a great contrast of flavours and textures with its pomegranate and fried onions, while the breaded fried olives ($5) are an insanely addictive accompaniment to the drinks.
The chipotle salsa sauce is one of three in-house sauces. For a spicier kick, go for the smoky habanero salsa.
The Marca Pina ($20) uses pineappleinfused mescal for a tropical flavour.
La Margarita del Poncho is a smokier twist on the traditional margarita. It goes well with deepfried dishes.