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Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos Offer Creative Drink Options

September 25, 2017

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.

Santa Fe

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.” 

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Albuquerque

Albuquerque has been long recognized as a fabulous destination for foodies. The cuisine is a unique fusion of Spanish, Mexican and Native American influences, while the city has a growing reputation as a craft beer and spirits destination.

“The city is currently experiencing a brewery explosion; we have more breweries and taprooms per capita than Portland,” said Kristin McGrath, vice president of sales, services & sports, Visit Albuquerque, referring to Oregon’s renowned craft-beer scene. “We’re also the first city in the nation to have a designated and official Brewery District, home to La Cumbre Brewing Company and Red Door Brewing Company.” 

A Downtown Brewery District was recently designated as well; home to popular Marble Brewery and Rio Bravo Brewing Company, among others. 

Left Turn Distilling offers a variety of locally produced spirits, including New Mexico Blue Corn Whiskey—100 percent locally sourced roasted and ground blue corn—and Rojo Pinon Rum. 

New Mexico is also home to one of the country’s oldest wine-growing regions, with several wineries catering to groups. Gruet Winery offers the ideal setting for corporate events, hosting up to 50 people in the Barrel Room with custom menus that include an epicurean luncheon and hors d’ oeuvres mixers. Founded in 1984 and family-owned and -operated, Gruet Winery specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines with roots originating from Gilbert Gruet’s Champagne house in Bethon, France.

There’s also Casa Rondena, known as much for its award-winning wines as its lovely Spanish-style architecture. The Great Hall, the Rotunda and the 1629 Club all host private events. As a working winery, the authentic barrels, casks and wine-making equipment add to the existing charm. 

Hotel Anduluz’s new local celebrity chef Marc Quinones recently rolled out completely new menus for the property’s restaurant and bar and has taken over executive chef duties at the hotel’s MAS – Tapas y Vino restaurant. Attendees can indulge in a house barrel-aged Boulevardier made with Campari, Carpano Antica (vermouth), Braulio Amaro (bitters) and orange oil, according to Chris Jacoby, director of marketing and sales.

Located about seven minutes from Albuquerque and Albuquerque International Sunport, Isleta Resort & Casino boasts more than 60,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space. The resort offers craft cocktails with signature liquors, including a signature Isleta tequila, as well as three signature Isleta bourbons. 

“At Isleta Resort & Casino, any group’s vision can easily become a reality.  Truly, anything is possible,” said Andrew Gilbert, assistant director of food and beverage.

Taos

An art colony, a world-class ski resort, a place of rich spiritual traditions and unparalleled landscapes, Taos is also known for fine food and recently for its microbreweries and signature cocktails. 

Eske’s Brew Pub and Eatery, located in the historic district of Taos, has brewed its own beers for nearly 100 years. Patrons can enjoy the outdoor beer garden or the covered patio, and on most nights, live music. 

Twelve distinct house beers are on draft at all times at Taos Mesa Brewing. 

“Enjoy light, thirst-quenching beers like our Kolsch .45 and Sabor del Sol Pilsner, as well as full-bodied, hearty dark beers, like our Black Widow Porter,” said Dan Irion, managing partner and events booking manager. 

The brewery has an indoor capacity of 500 and an outdoor capacity of 2,500. 

Surrounded by breathtaking mountains, the El Monte Sagrado’s Anaconda Bar offers signature margaritas. Meanwhile, at The Blake at Taos Ski Valley’s 192 at The Blake, attendees can learn how to make their own signature cocktail.  

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About the author
Jennifer Juergens | Contributing Content Developer, Florida and Caribbean