Alcoholic beverages are your friend over the holidays for several reasons. First of all, they make gatherings with your family so much easier to navigate. Secondly, they’re the perfect last-minute gift for any of your non-sober friends. You don’t have to know anyone’s size to purchase alcohol for them. So long as they’re over the age of 21, it fits.
Vara is a craft winery and distillery founded by Xavier Zamarripa and Doug Diefenthaler with a desire to “acknowledge, embrace and celebrate the historic wine and spirits contributions of Spain to the development of the New World—in particular the area that is now known as New Mexico.” In addition to its award-winning wine, Vara now produces spirits using an authentic 1000-liter copper alquitara (pot still) from Hoga Stills of Spain. The owners were first inspired by the traditional brandies of Spain and have set their sights on “producing an American brandy in the traditional styles of solera-aged Brandy de Jerez.” They sell gin, rum (blanco and añejo) and several high-end whiskeys (in collaboration with Taylor Garrett Spirits). But since they tout that brandy so much, why not stick with the Paso Uno immature white brandy ($42), the fruity yellow Fine Alembic Brandy Solera Reserva ($45) or the rich amber Fine Spanish Brandy ($49)? You can order online or make a reservation at their tasting room for a tipple (and some damn fine tapas).
315 Alameda Blvd. NE
Left Turn claims the mantle of Albuquerque’s first modern distillery. They specialize in high-quality, craft-distilled spirits. All their equipment is hand-crafted by founder Brian Langwell. They produce a deliciously sweet Old Tom Gin, a distinctive NM Blue Corn Barrel-Aged Whiskey, a Rojo Piñon Rum and an Old Santa Fe Trail Straight Bourbon Whiskey. But their most New Mexico-styled spirits are the La Luz Verde Green Chile Vodka and the La Luz Rojo Red Chile Vodka ($28 each). This holiday season there’s even a special Gin Who Stole Christmas ($40) made with traditional holiday tastes of peppermint, cranberries, grapefruit and tangerine. Left Turn’s taproom, patio and kitchen is located in Albuquerque’s up-and-coming warehouse district off Candelaria (near La Cumbre Brewing), and their products can be purchased at Jubilation Wine and Spirits (3512 Lomas Blvd. NE), Kelly Liquors (9411 Coors Blvd. NW) and Quarters Liquors (801 Yale Blvd. SE).
2924 Girard Blvd. NE
Nestled in Albuquerque’s increasingly cool Wells Park neighborhood is Hollow Spirits, which just celebrated its third anniversary. And along with a fine selection of local beer, wine and seasonal food, Hollow Spirits distills its own unique liquors. There’s the usual trifecta of gin, vodka and rum. But there’s also a hearty Red96 Bourbon and two particularly flavorful concoctions ready for mixing into holiday cocktails: the Lavender Vodka ($20) and the pomegranate/rose-infused PomRose Liqueur ($25).
1324 First St. NW
Safe House Distilling opened in 2019 and has quickly become a mainstay of Albuquerque’s Downtown scene. (Its parking lot is particularly hopping during ArtsCrawl events.) You can sample their wares in cocktails at the tasting room and on its comfortable outdoor patio. And you can take a few bottles home for gift-giving (or for drinking yourself). Look for deals during the Distillery’s package sales of two-packs and gift sets throughout the month of December. Lockpick Gin, Teller Vodka and Vault Bourbon are the old standbys. If you’re looking for something fun for the holidays, pick up some Teller Green Chile Vodka, some Teller Blueberry Lavender Vodka or some Teller Apple Pie Vodka (all $25 a bottle). If you can’t make it Downtown, Safe House’s liquors are available at 7-11 and Albertson’s stores throughout New Mexico.
616 Gold Ave. SW
Home to AD 1706 Whiskey, QOD Vod Vodka El Duque Rum and Chupacabra Moonshine, Albuquerque Distilling was founded by lifelong pals Roger Peery and Nick Pavlakos, who met in “Mr. Corona’s math class at Jefferson Middle School.” This year the distillers have gone all in on the local Burqueño angle, offering up a range of Johnny Tapia-inspired spirits including Mi Vida Loca Blue Agave (an unaged blanco agave spirit) and 69912 Hooch Moonshine (orange-flavored and named after the late boxer’s onetime inmate number). All of the bottles can be purchased at the distillery, and its products can also be found at Vintage 423 restaurant, Stone Face Package Liquors, Kelly’s Liquors and Moonwalk at 505 Central Food Hall.
5001 Central Ave NE Suite A