Straight—well, mixed—off the Margarita Trail

Solution for a summertime cold: one spicy margarita. Escape from a torrential monsoon: shelter and a margarita. After a long hike: an icy margarita with a salty rim. Friends visiting town: Take them for a margarita. Santa Fe, of course, is full of the sweet and sour, tequila-based cocktail. Tourists savor them and locals have their favorites. There’s Maria’s millions of super-strong varieties; La Choza’s delicious concoctions, from sweet to smokey to spicy; Secreto’s smoked-sage creation; The Dragon Room’s pink margarita; Tomasita’s Gold Coin—just to name a few local faves, but of course, the list goes on and on. TOURISM Santa Fe’s ode to the Margarita? The Margarita Trail.

This year, TOURISM Santa Fe takes the City Different’s love of the tequila-based cocktail, with its endless creative potential, on the road—or the trail, as the case may be—which began on Cinqo de Mayo and is now in full swing. But the margarita dates back long before this year’s Cinqo, and “Santa Fe can boast that it was the first city in the new world to import tequila from Mexico,” Al Lucero, author of The Great Margarita, writes in the Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport, the ticket to featured margarita recipes, discounted specialty drinks from 31 participating restaurants and bars, and fun prizes. Local Flavor set out to try each and every one—and this month, Still Hungry? asked a few of our favorite participating bartenders—Robert Morrison from Santacafé, Rochelle Roybal from Agoyo Lounge and Winston Greene from Bar Alto—to shake up a special drink just for our readers. These drinks are delightful, delicious and of course, different. So grab a passport ($3), hit the trail and enjoy!

Santacafé, No. 25 on the Margarita Trail

Santacafé’s Margarita Trail Chipotle Margarita ($8 with passport) is a smoky, warm interpretation of the classic margarita, garnished with a chile-flake salt rim. Robert says Cinqo de Mayo brought many passport carriers, and in they keep on coming as the summer approaches. For a special variation, the bartender recommends asking for the salted bacon rim when you come in to stamp your passport. Lately, Robert’s been excited to work with Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, and in its honor he’s created for our readers a refreshing summertime Lemon Basil Margarita with a sweet, sugar rim—you can’t take the margarita out of Santa Fe, and you sure can’t take the basil out of summer.

Lemon Basil Margarita

Four leaves of basil
½ ounce lemon juice
1 ounce ginger liqueur
2 ounces tequila of your choice

Muddle basil and lemon juice, combine with ginger liqueur in shaker. Add ice and tequila. Shake. Dip the rim of glass in sugar. Pour. Enjoy.

Santacafé, 231 Washington Ave., 505.984.1788, santacafe.com.

Bar Alto at the Drury, No. 5 on the Margarita Trail

Winston Greene, of Bar Alto at the Drury Hotel, came up with the Sangre de Cristo Sunset—the bar’s Trail margarita, which features Azunia Reposado tequila, habanero bitters, blood orange, shrub and Pimms ($9 with Passport)—we know: awesome. Indeed, the cocktail is a hit, Winston says, but his own favorite, “after a long night at work or when I find myself with a day off,” is called “Italian Lace.”

The spirit-forward cocktail, Winston says, is “not only smooth but has a distinct silken texture. The finish is spicy with a chocolaty finish. I’ve always loved it for its layered flavors and balance of sweet and savory characteristics.”

French Lace

2 ounces rye whiskey
¾ ounce Galliano
Two dashes of the local Bitterend Mole Bitters
Stir down and pour over fresh ice with a little orange peel. Relax and enjoy.

Bar Alto at the Drury, 228 E. Palace Ave., 505.982.0883, eloisasantafe.com.

Agave Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel, No. 1 on the Margarita Trail

Rochelle Roybal, bartender at Agave Lounge, says the Trail has been treating Agave right. Locals and tourists alike have come to get their passports stamped and sample the Oro Margarita, which is made from the Eldorado Patron Reposado, grand marnier and fresh lime ($12 with passport). These days, like Robert, Rochelle is loving basil.

“Now that summer is upon us,” she says. “Fresh basil is growing, and red, juicy, sweet and fresh strawberries are coming into season.” Rochelle and co-worker Jessica created a drink with the freshest produce of summer. “We incorporated organic products such as basil, strawberries and organic Azunia Reposado tequila,” Rochelle says. “The Cielo Rojo consists of fresh lime juice, lemon juice, agave nectar, strawberries, basil and organic reposado. This beautiful, refreshing, and vibrant cocktail is a perfect taste of spring and summer.”           

Cielo Rojo                    

4 strawberries (cut in halves)
3 basil leaves
1 ounce agave syrup
3/4 ounce lime juice
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce cointreau
3 ounces organic Reposado tequila

In glass, muddle the strawberries, basil, agave, lime and lemon juice. Add all other ingredients to shaker, fill with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into glass. Garnish with strawberry, basil leaf and lime.

AGAVE Lounge at the Eldorado, 309 W. San Francisco Street, 505.995.4530, eldoradohotel.com/dining-nightlife/agave-lounge.

Story by Mia Rose Poris


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