Show 412, February 13, 2021: Mezcal & Agave Spirits Sommelier Noah Arenstein, Las Vegas

Noah Arenstein

Mezcal has come a long way since the days of the harsh spirit with the worm in the bottle and can be savored (and truly appreciated) as it’s cousin, a fine premium tequila, can be enjoyed. It’s a clear liquor and originally came from Oaxaca. Mezcal can be produced from several species of the agave plant. It’s also referenced at the “Mother of Tequila.”

Mezcaliera and Mezcal Sommelier Noah Arenstein is our guide. Noah relocated to Las Vegas from Brooklyn last year to be part of the opening team of Chef Enrique Olvera’s (Pujol in Mexico City) highly anticipated Elio at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. Noah hand-picked limited flights of premium Mezcals for his guests along with providing commentary. Unfortunately Elio’s only had a short run before being permanently closed as a result of the pandemic. Currently Noah is an agave spirits consultant who also conducts VIP private tastings. A new restaurant post for Noah in Las Vegas is in the works.

Noah explains that Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal pioneered the premium Mezcal market in the United States. It was founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Ron Cooper. Look for the familiar green bottle.

Show 361, February 22, 2020: Tom Bergin’s, Los Angeles – Executive Chef Erik Punzalan – Part Two

Erik Punzalan of Tom BerginsTom Bergin’s located on S. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles (just south of Wilshire Blvd) is a landmarked institution. Also famous as the “House of Irish Coffee.” Opened in 1936 it holds one of the area’s longest continuously running liquor licenses. It even has its own parking lot – a true, but convenient, rarity in Los Angeles these days.

It’s had its ups and downs since the 2nd owner in its long history sold the establishment in 2011. Last year it was threatened with certain demolition but the new, astute property owners listened to the outpouring of community support and has reopened it under the culinary guidance of Chef Erik Punzalan (ex-Firefly.)

As of March 1st it’s Dinner Wednesday thru Sunday (closed on Monday & Tuesday) and opening @ 11:00 a.m. on Sunday for Brunch and then serving continuously until 1:00 a.m. To streamline service guests order at the oval bar and a server efficiently brings your meal to you.

The food is elevated Irish pub food that is both tasty and fairly priced. A generous portion of Shepherd’s Pie (short rib, seasonal veggies, Reggiano, mashed potatoes and gravy) goes for $14. A standout dessert is the Dutch Apple Pie (baked in-house) with housemade Bailey’s Ice Cream.

Of course the ample bar is well stocked with Irish Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon & American Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Tequila, Gin and Rum. For something different in a cocktail try the Paloma. It’s Altos Blanco or Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit soda and Tajin rim.

We continue our conversation with Chef Erik Punzalan.