Since we can’t take the Tequila Trail* in Jalisco for National Tequila Day—COVID-19 has limited travel between Mexico and the US to “essential travel only”—I decided on a “virtual” stroll down the Margarita Trail in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Santa Fe Margarita Trail is a splendid way to experience the local flavors of this foodie town, and so I’ve been sipping the best margaritas in Santa Fe and earning stamps on my Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport almost since the trail’s inception in 2016. On National Tequila Day, celebrated July 24, I’ll use my passport to choose margarita recipes to make at home. Btw, here’s the latest info on Santa Fe re-opening.
Santa Fe, the first city to import tequila from Mexico
In the old days, Santa Fe was the first city in the New World to import tequila from Mexico according to Al Lucero, author of The Great Margarita Book. The Santa Fe author suggests that Spanish priests traveling from colonial New Spain (Mexico) brought the “Mexican brandy” to Santa Fe de Nuevo México. Back then, the Spanish colonizers made Mexican brandy from the fermented root of the agave using a double distillation process.
Today, Mexicans still make tequila from agave, but since the spirit received a Tequila Denomination of Origin in 1974, it must be distilled from Tequilana Weber Agave, Blue Variety or blue agave from specified regions in Mexico. Each of the almost four dozen SFT margaritas are made of 100% agave tequila and show off the mixology talent you’ll find in Santa Fe.
Table of Contents
45 of the best margaritas in Santa Fe
Looking for the best margarita Santa Fe? The new Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport boasts 45 margaritas (and their recipes) which some believe are 45 of the best margaritas in the world. For sure, these are the best margaritas in Santa Fe.
Passport includes Santa Fe Margarita Trail Recipes
The Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport is available as an app for $2.99, or you can get the paper version at Tourism Santa Fe Visitor Centers listed below or at most participating locations for $3. The passport gets you:
- $1 discount for each of the featured Santa Fe Margarita Trail margaritas (a $45 value)
- 45 margarita recipes and photos,
- Space for tasting notes,
- Place to collect stamps from each of the Santa Fe bars or restaurants,
- Guide for entrée pricing, outdoor dining, live music and free wifi,
- Convenient map of locations
Chances to redeem stamps for awesome prizes (for example, with only five stamps, you earn a Margarita Trail T-shirt.
Most trail marg drink prices range between $10 and $14. To encourage responsible drinking, the passport limits stamps to two per day. Those who prefer non-alcoholic refreshment can also collect stamps when they order margaritas without alcohol.
Don’t forget to ask your bartender to stamp your passport.
Sunset Trail Margarita at Agoyo Lounge
The cozy kiva fireplace at Agoyo Lounge is always burning the aromatic juniper wood that reminds me so much of Santa Fe. The Sunset Trail Margarita is a “margarita different” in my book because of the grapefruit juice and grenadine—a colorful, refreshing change of pace. I highly recommend this relaxing gathering spot. Want to learn more about how your sense of smell can transport you back to places you’ve visited? Check out These Rare Exotic Fruits will Take You Places.
Sunset Trail Margarita recipe
2 ounces Partida Añejo Tequila
2 ounces Triple Sec
Fresh grapefruit juice
Shake with Agave Nectar. Garnish with lime.
Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita at Cowgirl BBQ
Live music, girls in cowboy hats and down-home mesquite-smoked BBQ: what more could you want? Oh yes, add the Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita. Or as I did on another visit, imbibe with the Frida Kahlo tequila tasting flight.
Watch Sadie from Cowgirl BBQ as she teaches you how to make a Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita perhaps one of the best margarita Santa Fe:
Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita recipe
1.5 ounces Azunia 100% agave, organic Tequila
.75 ounce Grand Marnier
.75 ounce sweet/sour mix (from fresh juices and superfine sugar)
½ fresh-squeezed lime
½ fresh-squeezed orange
Shake vigorously and serve over rocks in a red chile salted stem glass.
Garnish with lime and orange wheels.
Tamarindo Margarita at La Fiesta Lounge at La Fonda
My very first stop on the Santa Fe Margarita Trail years ago was at my favorite Santa Fe hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza. See my review here. Back then, their trail margarita was the Don Rael Margarita, pictured above with a copy of the old passport. It was a triple whammy of Sauza Hornitos Reposado and Anejo tequilas and Patrón Citrónge. Currently, La Fiesta Lounge features the Tamarindo Margarita made with Liquid Alchemist Tamarino Syrup. Check out the price of tamarino syrup here and stock your home margarita bar now.
Tamarindo Margarita Recipe
1.5 ounces Herradura Blanco Tequila
.5 ounce orange liqueur
.5 ounce Liquid Alchemist Tamarino Syrup
.5 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
1 ounce La Fonda margarita mix
Alderwood Smoked Salt Rim
Prickly Pear Margarita at Rancho de Chimayó
Since I’m somewhat of a purist when it comes to margaritas, when I was at Rancho de Chimayó, I ordered their Grand Gold Margarita shown in the image above. However, their trail-featured Prickly Pear Margarita makes a colorful accompaniment to the classic pink theme of the restaurant, which is winner of the 2016 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award. The color is similar to the Prickly Pear Frozen Lemonade shown next to my margarita. I was the guest of hacienda owner Florence Jaramillo and would go back to Chimayó, New Mexico, just 37 minutes from the Santa Fe Plaza in a heartbeat.
Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe
1.5 ounces silver tequila – they use their signature tequila
1.5 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 ounce Triple Sec
1 ounce prickly pear syrup
Salt, lemon wedge
Don’t have prickly pear syrup? Learn how to make your own.
The Paparita at Thunderbird Bar & Grill
The Paparita is made of daily-squeezed lime juice and fresh agave. The Thunderbird Bar & Grill, Santa Fe’s only restaurant with a year-round deck overlooking the Plaza offers over 100 tequilas, 20 beers on draft and local craft brews. My favorite nibble? The Margarita Shrimp with cilantro, jalapenos and tomatoes and served over Native-inspired fry bread.
‘The Paparita’ margarita recipe
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Roca Bonita Margarita at La Choza
La Choza is a locals’ favorite for traditional New Mexican cuisine located near Railyard Park. Just like its older, uptown sister, The Shed, the restaurant serves hand shaken margaritas and made from scratch foods. I enjoyed the Roca Bonita Margarita created from Roca Patron Reposado Tequila, Bauchant, a French orange liqueur and sour mix made with real lime and lemon juices. This, and The Shed’s Roca Coin could be some of the best margaritas in Santa Fe.
Roca Bonita Margarita recipe
1.5 ounces Roca Patron Reposado Tequila
.75 ounce Bauchant
2 ounces sour mix
Hard shake. Serve on rocks and with salt.
Collecting stamps on Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passports
I began collecting stamps on the old Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport format. Fortunately, I can transfer stamps from my old passport to the new passport, but you can only do that at one of the three downtown TOURISM Santa Fe Visitor Centers:
Plaza Visitor Information Center
Paso de Luz (formerly Plaza Galeria)
66 E. San Francisco Street, Suite 3
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm Daily
Santa Fe Community Convention Center
201 W. Marcy Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday-Friday
Railyard Visitor Information Center
Santa Fe Depot
410 S. Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Daily
Santa Fe Margarita Trail Details
Download the Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport App for $2.99, or purchase a paper passport at Tourism Santa Fe Visitor Centers or most participating locations for $3. Your Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport entitles you to $1 off each signature margarita, a chance to collect stamps and the ability to redeem the stamps for prizes like T-shirts, bartender kits and access to events, seminars and tastings. The passport reveals a list of the best margaritas in Santa Fe. Get complete details at TOURISM Santa Fe.
Enjoy the Santa Fe Margarita Trail from the comfort of your own home
Right now, the best way to enjoy the stops along the Santa Fe Margarita Trail is from the comfort of your own home. Virtually discover Santa Fe’s unique culture as you experience specialty-crafted margaritas made famous by some of the best restaurants and bars in The City Different. For that reason, lift your glass of the Mexican elixir to toast National Tequila Day, celebrated on July 24!
Send me a photo of your favorite Santa Fe Margarita Trail margarita, and I’ll add it to this list.
Check here for up-to-date info about Santa Fe re-opening.
*La Ruta del Tequila or Tequila Trail connects tequila-producing towns in Jalisco, the only state in Mexico where tequila production is allowed throughout the whole state. Tequila received a Designation of Origin (appellation de controlee) in 1974 and so the government closely monitors the regions of tequila production.
As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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