Everywhere I look, trees have thrown off their colorful robes. Crackly piles of yellow leaves lie everywhere, piling up in corners and covering the ground between tree trunks. The afternoons, ever shorter, have a wonderful crisp feel and most days I can smell piñon and cedar fires burning in nearby kivas. Wool sweaters and hats are being pulled down from the top shelves of closets and we’ve all got our eyes on the Santa Fe ski basin, waiting for snow. It’s here: winter has crept up on us. I’ve traded in my salad bowl for the Crock-Pot and likewise it’s time to retire mojitos and mint juleps in favor of darker spirits and warming winter cocktails. I asked some of northern New Mexico’s most talented bartenders for their favorite cold-weather creations. Their original recipes and twists on old classics will have you feeling warm and fuzzy through the holidays and beyond.
The Velvet Bee
From Quinn Stephenson of Coyote Café and Geronimo
A bartender’s a bartender, right? Not anymore. Perhaps no one embodies the idea of “mixology” better than Quinn Stephenson, partner at Coyote Café and Geronimo restaurant. While a bartender may be well versed in the art of preparing classic cocktails, mixologists specialize in creating their own libations, using ingredients like homemade infusions and bitters. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Quinn in the past and what I remember most took place not behind the bar but in the kitchen, removing seeds from green chiles to use in spicy margaritas, cutting up lemongrass for a new recipe and creating, like scientists, tiny “pearls” of blood orange destined to bounce around in a glass of Champagne. It takes a real mixologist to carry creativity from bar to kitchen and back.
This year, Quinn was chosen by Patrón Tequila to participate in its Aficionado program, which sends mixologists to cities throughout the U.S. to represent the brand and show off their own unique recipes created using the company’s products. This Thanksgiving, get your egg nog fix early with the Velvet Bee—homemade egg nog blended with Patrón XO Café and silver tequila infused with coffee.
8 eggs separated
8 ounces sugar
8 ounces heavy cream
8 ounces Patrón XO Café
8 ounces Pyrat Rum
1 Tablespoon vanilla
garnish: ground nutmeg and cinnamon
In a mixing bowl blend egg yolks, slowly adding the sugar. Mix in the tequila, cream and rum. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy and then add the vanilla. Fold the vanilla and egg white mixture into the first mixing bowl and place in the fridge until ready to use. Pour straight from the fridge into a chilled martini glass. Garnish by dusting the top of the filled glass with equal parts nutmeg and cinnamon.
Flor de Maria
From Natalie Bovis, editor of The Liquid Muse and author of “Edible Cocktails: From Garden-To-Glass”
Natalie Bovis is a force to be reckoned with in the world of mixology. She is the author of three cocktail books and runs The Liquid Muse, a consulting, educational, cocktail catering and editorial resource for beverage and spirit companies, bar professionals and beyond. She’s also co-creator of OM Cocktails, a line of certified organic vodka-based libations available in a range of flavors. Santa Fe is lucky to lay claim to Natalie, who moonlights at the Anasazi Restaurant and Bar. This winter Natalie’s Flor de Maria cocktail will warm you up, with complex flavors of hibiscus, orange and cherry.
1 ½ ounces reposado tequila (try Gran Centenario Rosangel hibiscus tequila)
½ ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce hibiscus-Cabernet syrup
dash of orange bitters
garnish: orange flower water, edible flower
In a shaker filled with ice, add all the liquid ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Spritz the top of the cocktail with orange flower water and garnish with an edible flower floating on the surface of the drink.
1 cup hibiscus tea
1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
½ cup Cabernet wine
Bring hibiscus tea and sugar to a low boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly, then add the wine. Store in an airtight glass bottle. Refrigerate.
From Chris Milligan, beverage manager and mixologist at Secreto Lounge at the Hotel St. Francis
Chris Milligan has learned a thing or two in his 26-year career as a food and beverage professional (23 of those behind the bar). Some of the best classic cocktails I’ve ever had were made by Chris—no one can make a proper Manhattan or martini better than him. After a visit to his bar, you’ll understand the difference between shaken and stirred (stirring cocktails is best to maintain viscosity, unless you’re integrating an element other than booze, like fruit juice or egg whites). Chris has trained bartenders, managers and restaurant owners all over the Southwest and has helped to create training material for some of the top restaurants in the country. Like a true mixologist (or chef!), he emphasizes local ingredients and organic spirits and carries all the bartenders’ tools he needs for the creation of fabulous cocktails to and from work in his own special bag. His mulled cider recipe is a must this winter. “I love this recipe,” he says. “I serve it during Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays so I can relax with family and friends. It’s warm and soothing and I love to use locally made cider.”
64 ounces unfiltered apple cider
3 cinnamon sticks
2 medium oranges
2 pieces star anise
1 bottle of your favorite whiskey, rum or scotch (try Colkegan single malt whiskey from Santa Fe Spirits)
Slice the oranges into 4-5 slices each and stick the cloves into the slices. Place all the ingredients in a Crock-Pot on high heat and warm. Reduce heat to low if it begins to boil. If desired, leave out the booze so kids can enjoy as well. Adults can spike their own glasses individually.
From Adam Kerr, food and beverage director, and Holly Suazo, assistant food and beverage director, at Doc Martin’s Restaurant at the Taos Inn.
If we’re talking cocktails, a visit to the Taos Inn, an iconic venue and registered historic landmark (open since 1936) is in order. This summer, the Inn’s Doc Martin’s Restaurant redesigned its cocktail list to emphasize classic recipes, joining other bars across the U.S. that have seen a revival in classic cocktails. There’s nothing as bad as a poorly or incorrectly made vesper, negroni or sazerac. On the same token, there’s nothing so good as a well-made classic cocktail (there’s a reason these recipes have persisted for more than a century). What’s even better than a fantastic classic cocktail? One that features local, small batch spirits from KGB Spirits, distilled in Alcalde, New Mexico. Adam Kerr and Holly Suazo, the folks behind the beverage program at Doc Martin’s, shared their recipe for the sazerac, a drink that dates from the mid-1800s. It’s also perfect for warming up on a cold November evening.
2 ounces KGB Spirits Taos Lightning single barrel straight rye whiskey
splash of KGB Spirits Brimstone absinthe
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 Tablespoon sugar
garnish: lemon twist
Rinse a rocks glass with absinthe, discarding any excess absinthe that doesn’t stick to the glass. In a shaker with ice combine the whiskey, sugar and bitters. Roll the ingredients—shaking will cause the drink to become cloudy. Strain into the rocks glass rinsed with absinthe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Duke of Earl
From Oscar Nieves, head bartender at Zinc Restaurant
Zinc Restaurant in Albuquerque is another must-visit spot if you’re looking for a great classic cocktail with a bit of a twist. Head bartender Oscar Nieves takes classic recipes like the Manhattan, cosmopolitan and gimlet a bit further by using ingredients like house-infused cinnamon whiskey for Manhattans and cranberry-infused vodka for cosmos. He also emphasizes local ingredients including Viracocha vodka and Hacienda Gin from KGB spirits. For the Duke of Earl cocktail, Oscar creates layers of flavor by using Bombay Sapphire gin (infused with ten exotic botanicals including almond, lemon peel, juniper berries, coriander and licorice) and earl grey syrup. Another perfect pick-me-up during the chilly holiday season.
1 ½ ounce Bombay Sapphire gin
½ ounce earl grey simple syrup
1 ounce lemon juice
garnish: ground cinnamon & sugar
Prepare a martini glass by chilling it with ice. Next, use a lemon slice to wet the edge of the glass and drag it through the ground cinnamon and sugar. In a shaker with ice, combine the gin, earl grey syrup and lemon juice. Shake and strain the martini glass.
Earl grey syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 bag earl grey tea
Bring water to a boil and then remove from heat. Steep tea bag in the water for 3-4 minutes and remove. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let cool. Refrigerate.
Cinnamon-infused whiskey: Add several cinnamon sticks to a bottle of Jim Beam and let sit for 2 weeks in a cool, dry place.
Originally published in the November, 2014 issue of Local Flavor Magazine.