This story was originally published in December 2019; offerings and opening times may be different due to COVID-related restrictions, so check in advance of a visit.
In the heart of artsy Santa Fe, just a few blocks from the Palace of the Governors and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, sits the cozy tasting room and bar of Santa Fe Spirits. Once a private home, the venue offers a quiet respite for locals and a relaxing spot for tourists to taste some Southwest whiskey flavor. Adobe walls and arched, wood-beamed ceilings create the perfect space to while away an hour or two sipping cocktails made with agave, sage, and other regional ingredients.
Limited to serving only New Mexico spirits, the Read Street bar focuses on its own stable of single malt whiskey, apple brandy, vodka, gin, and Atapiño liqueur, an unaged malt whiskey infused with buttery piñon nuts and ponderosa pine resin. Cocktails range from the classic, like a Smokey Manhattan and barrel-aged Old Fashioned, to recipes invented by the bar’s talented staff. The Blood+Sand+Smoke features Colkegan single malt mixed with blood orange purée and the bar’s “secret sauce,” a house-made vermouth, while the Full Windsor uses a split base of apple brandy and single malt, supported by Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged bitters and the house-made amaro.
The bar’s custom touch is best manifested by the casual but friendly attention of the bartenders, who welcome regulars and newcomers with equal warmth. Santa Fe Spirits’ distillery is located eight miles away (and has its own tasting room), but the downtown venue serves as its front porch, a gathering place for an eclectic crowd. “Our tasting room embodies Santa Fe,” says founder Colin Keegan. “It’s cozy and inviting, with a good mix of locals and tourists.” You won’t find a TV blasting sports or a lively trivia night in this bar, but you might just make a new friend.
Must-Drink Cocktail: Nut Job, a blend of Colkegan single malt, black walnut and orange bitters, and piney Atapiño liqueur
Don’t Miss: After-hours live music on Sunday nights by local artists