Sips and Trips: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Get a taste for all that Albuquerque has to offer.
From coffee to cocktails, Albuquerque’s sipping scene is infused with local ingredients and inspiration ranging from its radiant sunsets to its ancient cultures. Known for art, mountain sports, hot air balloons, and Breaking Bad, the Duke City can now add draft beer to its list of draws. New Mexico ranks 11th in breweries per capita nationally, according to the Brewers Association, and Albuquerque counts 40-plus microbreweries and growing. With New Mexico being the oldest wine-producing region in the country, Albuquerque is home to a vibrant array of vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms. For those looking to jumpstart their morning—or just enjoy a cup of joe—Duke City offers an abundance of coffee, from classic and traditional roasts to artful lattes and third wave shops. Here’s a list of where to enjoy some of Albuquerque's best beverages.
Sips: Founded in 1706, Old Town is Albuquerque’s historical and cultural heart. At the newly opened Hotel Chaco, savor a Sun Dagger (lemon, lime, agave, bitters, Knob Creek Select Barrel, Maestro Dobel Diamante Select Barrel in a red chile-rimmed glass) on Level 5’s rooftop patio and take in panoramic views of the Sandia Mountains and downtown Albuquerque. This luxury hotel pays homage to New Mexico’s ancient Native Americans who built massive dwellings at Chaco Canyon, a national historical park and UNESCO site three hours northwest of Albuquerque. The posh QBar Lounge within Hotel Albuquerque features New Mexico-themed cocktails such as the New Mexico Old Fashioned (Knob Creek Heritage Select bourbon, green chile, piñon bitters, and a sugar cube). In the nearby Sawmill District, enjoy a Ghost Train I.P.A. and other beers crafted at Ponderosa Brewing Company. Next door, Prismatic Coffee serves micro-roasted coffee drinks such as its Photonic Espresso latte with locally sourced milk and house-made stroopwafels. Don’t leave the area without stopping by Golden Crown Panaderia, the state’s only New Mexican bakery, which covers all of the beverage bases with more than 20 local beers on tap, wine from stainless steel kegs, espresso drinks topped with latte art, and their World's Best Coffee Milkshake.
Trips: Don’t miss Old Town’s Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, and ¡Explora! children’s museum.
Downtown and EDo
Sips: Albuquerque’s downtown and EDo (East Downtown) districts are vibrant with concerts, theater, live music, local shops, restaurants, and year-round family events. Pair a Sandia Haze (Old Forester 100, Averna Amaro, Carpano Antica, mole bitters, and hibiscus and clove aromatics) with green chile-and-lo mein short rib egg rolls at Ibiza on historic Hotel Andaluz’s rooftop. Award-winning Marble Brewery’s Wildflower Wheat with floral notes is among New Mexico’s most popular beers. Abbey Brewing Co.'s Monks’ Corner Taproom serves beers such as The Monks’ Dubbel that’s “made with care and prayer” by Benedictine monks from Christ in the Desert monastery in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Nearby Rio Bravo Brewing Company serves up several award-winning brews, including its La Luz Lager and Rubus Ruckus raspberry sour. To pair craft cocktails with breathtaking views, be sure to visit Hotel Parq Central’s rooftop bar: Apothecary Lounge. For some local flavor, try the La Llorona margarita (house-infused green chile tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar, lemon and orange juice, and house-made hibiscus syrup, served in a double rocks glass with a salted rim). Coffee keeps the energy high during the workweek, including Espresso Fino’s Shot in the Dark (shot of espresso with brewed coffee) and nitro cold brew coffee from The Brew that sources its beans from its farm in Piendamó, Colombia.
Trips: Rotating breweries and food trucks serve food during weekend nights and outdoor theater productions can be enjoyed in Civic Plaza.
Sips: Nob Hill is a stretch of Route 66 lined with fun shops, edgy art galleries, innovative restaurants, and neon signs that harkens back to the glory days of the Mother Road. Housed in a former 1940s auto dealership, Kellys Brew Pub blends its apricot ale and hard cider to make its Fruit Basket, one of 20 brews on its menu. Zacatecas Tacos + Tequila + Bourbon has more than 60 tequilas and mescals and 112 varieties of bourbon to enjoy with its gourmet street tacos. Tractor Brewing Co.’s Ghost Ranch IPA has hints of pine and is named for Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite painting location in northern New Mexico. Live jazz and cocktails such as the Stubborn as a Taos Mule (Taos Lightning Rye Whiskey, Goslings ginger beer, and lime) add to the speak-easy feel of the Cellar Bar at Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro.
Trips: Central Avenue through Nob Hill closes for events throughout the year, including Route 66 Summerfest.
Sips: Located at the base of the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, Sandiago’s Grill at the Tram looks west over the lights of Albuquerque and its famous sunsets that pair beautifully with its ample blood orange margarita on the rocks. Named for the cottonwood forest that lines Albuquerque’s stretch of the Rio Grande, Bosque Brewing Co. has made a name for itself in the past few years by medaling at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) with such beers as its Acequia Wet Hop IPA, Bosque Lager, and Bosque IPA. Boxing Bear Brewing Co. near the bucolic village of Corrales also took home gold at the 2016 GABF with its Red Glove Double Red Ale that has candied pineapple notes. Piñon Coffee House blends piñon pine nut flavoring into its roasts to create a unique New Mexican cup of coffee that is also shipped nationwide.
Trips: Hike the trails through the cottonwood bosque along the Rio Grande in Corrales, then visit Casa San Ysidro museum to see New Mexico life during the 1700s and 1800s.
The Brewery District
Sips: Once a nondescript industrial area bordered by Interstate 25 and flood channels, this swath of Albuquerque is now home to a concentration of New Mexico’s best breweries. One of Albuquerque’s oldest breweries, the Canteen Brewhouse, creates its award-winning Pecos Trail Brown Ale and others for its Il Vicino wood-oven pizza restaurants. La Cumbre Brewing Co.’s menu includes specialty beers such as its Mesa Cerveza, a dry Wallonian farmhouse beer with apple and pear notes, and its Elevated IPA. Begun in 2014 by former bandmates, Red Door Brewing Co. includes its tart-yet-sweet Unhinged Cider on its menu. Left Turn Distilling (for Bugs Bunny’s “I knew I should have made a left turn at Albuquerque” epiphany) serves its New Mexico Blue Corn Whiskey, made with local blue corn.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Trips: Ride your bike to the breweries via the North Diversion Channel Trail, part of Albuquerque’s 400 miles of bike paths.
Sips: Stroll the Andalusian-inspired grounds of Casa Rondeña Winery while sipping its award-winning 1629, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Tempranillo named for the year wine-making came to New Mexico via Spanish friars, making it the nation’s oldest wine-producing region. Nationally known Gruet Winery crafts sparkling wines such as its Brut that earned 90-points and is listed as a 100 Top Values of 2016 by Wine Spectator. Enjoy the patio at the St. Clair Winery & Bistro restaurant near Old Town, where its Blue Teal Rio Rojo red and other wines are made with grapes grown at its southern New Mexico vineyard.
Trips: The Albuquerque Harvest Wine Festival takes place annually at Balloon Fiesta Park Labor Day Weekend.
Steve Larese is a travel journalist who specializes in the Southwestern Unites States. You can follow him and his travels on Instagram and Facebook.