Pinon, agave and Hatch green chili—flavors of the Southwest—are all infused in a variety of ways in craft cocktails, beer, wine, margaritas and even coffee. And all are just waiting to be sampled in New Mexico’s main meetings cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos.
When the Santa Fe Margarita Trail was created by Tourism Santa Fe, local mixologists were given a challenge: Come up with something unique using ingredients indigenous to the area. Tequila was a given, but no ingredient was deemed too far-fetched.
For example, Osteria D’Assisi restaurant created a margarita with Aperol—a light and fruity Italian aperitif with bitter orange, rhubarb and topped with basil, according to Joanne Hudson, public relations manager, Tourism Santa Fe.
Groups looking for a pub crawl-type event can enjoy the Margarita Trail. Arranged by Tourism Santa Fe, guests visit several establishments on the trail, with passports in hand, to experience—and taste—the local color and flavor.
“These passports provide the history of each establishment, and include recipes as a charming take-home gift,” Hudson said. “After participants earn five passport stamps, they get a T-shirt as an ‘Official Trail Blazer.’”
The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado has its own concoction on the trail called Betty’s Smoking Jalapeno Margarita, and also offers tequila classes for groups, said Kyle Jongerden, assistant food and beverage manager.
“Our bartenders teach groups about the tequila’s background and its production,” Jongerden said. “It’s not just people standing around the bar for the obligatory half-hour cocktail party. Our bartenders have big personalities and they love to share these fun and interactive tastings with guests.”
Another hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza, features several different margaritas on the Santa Fe Margarita Trail.
“Ask for bartender Don Rael’s own Margarita at La Fiesta Lounge,” suggested Jayne Weiske, director of marketing. It’s made from Sauza Hornitos Reposado tequila, Sauza Hornitos Anejo tequila, Grand Marnier and Patron Citronge, topped with our special homemade lime/lemon juice.”
Located 7,000 feet above sea level at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the Santa Fe Spirits distillery offers group tours and tastings. Founded by whiskey aficionado Colin Keegan in 2010, his dream to use local, organic ingredients in his Scotch-style whiskies and apple brandies is now a reality.
Groups learn about the distilling and aging process and taste all five award-winning spirits. The distillery event space has seating for 45 and accommodates up to 100 when including the distillery manufacturing space.
“The newly remodeled distillery tasting room is a great space for groups looking for something a little bit different,” Keegan said. “It’s an inviting space where we serve great cocktails and host fun events, like cocktail competitions and spirit tastings.”