They say “All Trails Lead to Santa Fe” but are you aware that Santa Fe is known to be the first place in the world where tequila was exported from Mexico? The Santa Fe Margarita Trail is only the latest in centuries of Santa Fe trail tradition.
Why Santa Fe Claims the Margarita Trail
We don’t think the margarita was invented in Santa Fe, but according to Al Lucero, author of The Great Margarita Book, Santa Fe played a major role in introducing the main ingredient of the margarita to the “new world” and that is tequila. Al tells us that when the Spanish Conquistadors docked their ships in the Gulf of Mexico in quest of golden treasures in the new world, they also brought along Catholic clergy in an effort to establish missions and convert indigenous people to the Catholic faith. They brought sacramental wine for the church’s communion but realized they would run out, so they brought grape cuttings. The forward thinking Spaniards also brought a supply of their favorite spirit, brandy and a still. After all, they were soon going to be harvesting grapes and the church could only use so much wine.
The Spaniard’s quest led them across Mexico and north on what was to become El Camino Real, the main route between Mexico City and Santa Fe, capital of the territory of New Mexico. While they were being greeted by the indigenous natives in Mexico, who thought they were gods on their big horses and shiny armor, they were served pulque-fermented agave juice, which the Spanish called vino de agave.
This wasn’t exactly a Napa Cab, as a matter of fact, it was awful! They knew they might run out of their beloved brandy before the crop of grapes came in, so being industrious, they decided to distill the pulque. First batch, better but still not very good. So they distilled it again and it was not bad at all. Tequila was born and to this day the fermented agave juices are doubled to become tequila.
As the Spanish settlers came north to Santa Fe, they brought their “Mexican brandy” or tequila with them. Santa Fe can now boast that it was the first city in the New World to import tequila from Mexico!
Start with the Margarita Trail Passport
Your Trail adventure starts with the Margarita Trail Passport. The Passport is your invitation to explore Santa Fe’s love and connection to the margarita. There are 31 amazing margaritas on the Trail to tantalize your taste buds so you’re sure to find a favorite or two! As an added bonus, your Passport contains a collection of recipes for each signature margarita. The Margarita Trail promises to be one of your most memorable Santa Fe culinary adventures.
Here’s how it works:
- Purchase your Passport for $3 at any TOURISM Santa Fe Visitor Center or participating establishment.
- Along the Margarita Trail, present your Passport for a $1 discount on the special margarita offered by the participating establishment.
- Ask your bartender or server to stamp and date your Passport before you leave. You can earn a maximum of two stamps per day.
- Collect stamps from different stops along the Santa Fe Margarita Trail.
- After collecting 5 stamps you’ll have earned a commemorative t-shirt to proudly display your Santa Fe margarita passion!
- With 20 stamps, you will receive an autographed copy of the The Great Margarita Book.
- Complete the Trail and receive your own Margarita Bartender Kit.
- T-shirt and other prizes may only be redeemed at the Downtown Visitor Center located in the Plaza Galeria on the San Francisco Street side of the Plaza.
- All Passports remain valid for the life of the Santa Fe Margarita Trail and are fully transferable.
Where Can I Find The Santa Fe Trail Margaritas?
Here’s what you need to know about the Margarita Trail offerings. They are made with 100% agave tequila. Tequilas are also offered by most small distilleries as Silver, Añejo or Reposado. You will find a variety of products and types as you embark on the Margarita Trail – as only Santa Fe can offer! The 31 participating establishments and their signature Margarita Trail cocktail are listed below.
- AGAVE Lounge – Eldorado Oro Margarita
- Agoyo Lounge – Sunset Trail Margarita
- Amaya at Hotel Santa Fe – Amaya Jalapeño Margarita
- Anasazi Restaurant – Sandia y Pepino Margarita
- Bar Alto – Sangre de Cristo Sunset
- Blue Corn Café – Peso de Plata
- Cowgirl BBQ – Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita
- Coyote Rooftop Cantina – Norteño
- Del Charro Saloon – Santa Fe Trail Margarita
- Derailed at the Sage – Tequila Mockingbird
- Georgia – Desert Bloom
- Iguana Café and Cantina –Buffalo Thunder
- La Choza Restaurant – Roca Bonita
- La Fiesta Lounge at La Fonda – Don Rael Margarita
- La Plazuela at La Fonda – Centennial Margarita
- Low 'n Slow Lowrider Bar – Chimayóso Margarita
- Luminaria Restaurant & Patio – Strawberry-Jalapeño Margarita
- Maria's New Mexican Kitchen – Los Luceros Margarita
- The Mine Shaft Tavern – MadChile Margarita
- Ortiz at Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza – 1694
- Osteria D'Assisi – Margarita L’Amante
- Pranzo Italian Grill – iL Pista Basilica Margarita
- Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante – Prickly Pear Margarita
- Santa Fe Bar & Grill – High Mesa Blood Orange Margarita
- Santacafé -Santacafé Chipotle Margarita
- Secreto Lounge – Smoked Sage Margarita
- Terra Bar at Four Seaons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe – Betty’s Smoking Jalapeño
- The Bell Tower at La Fonda – Bell Ringer Margarita
- The Shed – Roca Coin
- The Staab house at La Posada de Santa Fe – Juliarita
- Tomasita's Restaurant – Tomasita’s Gold Coin
Happy Santa Fe Margarita Trails To You!
Celebrating the best food and drink with friends and family is at the heart of living in or visiting “The City Different”. We invite you to discover the exceptional mixology talent, relaxing restaurants, superb Northern New Mexico cuisine, and diverse live music while you create very special memories here in The City Different. To discover more of the best, order the 2016 Santa Fe Travel Guide. You’ll also want to check out our Deals & Specials!
Remember you must be 21 or older to participate. Santa Fe’s high altitude of 7,200 feet above sea level means the air is thinner. Go nice and slow. Enjoy the Trail but always drink responsibly.