It’s no secret that the foundation of New Mexico’s culinary history can be attributed to women. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters and friends have all contributed to New Mexico’s colorful culinary past. Santa Fe is no exception. We are proud to tout several well-known restaurants that are named after inspiring women. Let me introduce you to the the culinary great ladies of Santa Fe. Read More
With its rich artistic heritage, it’s no wonder that Santa Fe was designated as one of UNESCO’s Creative Cities but creativity here isn’t limited to the canvas. Artists who work in a different medium – mixology – pour their City Different masterpieces into a glass. Intrigued? Let me guide you forth with these insider’s tippling tips.
I’ve Got a Secreto
Margaritas and the Land of Mañana — it’s a winning combination. But any Santa Fe mixologist worth his or her salt has a twist on that mix. Chris Milligan of the Secreto Lounge at Hotel St. Francis definitely had our sagebrush scenery on his mind when he created his Smoked Sage Margarita. Shake up a margarita memory with this blend of Republic Anejo Tequila, orange-infused 03 liqueur, fresh lime juice and smoked sage in a glass with a hickory-salt rim. It’s smokin’ all right, and it’s ample evidence for why locals voted Secreto as Best Cocktails winner in the 2013 Santa Fe Reporter’s Best of Santa Fe.
Lovin’ Life at Loretto
What happens when you invite a Smokin’ Nun to the bar top? A good story, of course. Sister George, a nun of the Loretto order (for whom the hotel is named), liked to enjoy her evening cocktail with a cigar. In honor of this sippin’ sister, the Inn of Loretto (a Travel + Leisure World’s Best), mixes Knob Creek rye, muddled orange, brandied cherries, Grand Marnier and orange bitters with a smoker light infusing this robust cocktail. Nothing like relaxing in the living room with a cool drink and a couple of sisters!
A Recipe for Lingering at La Posada
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa has Julia Staab as resident ghost but personally I’m more interested in discovering how The Staab House lounge fantasizes about the margarita. La Po’s recipe gets creative with a potent mix of hot and cool and the result is worth savoring slowly. Nason’s Fancy goes down nice and easy: Patron Silver with charred chile agave, orange bitters and fresh lime juice in a glass rimmed with smoked sea salt. More than one and I probably would see ghosts!
Anasazi’s Rock (Salt) Art
When the bar manager at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi issued a challenge to his staff to get creative, this is what he got: Defiance. No, not the stuff of staff revolts but Defiance, an elegant cocktail designed by one of my favorite mixologists, Loralee. Her response was a rye-based reward served in a martini glass (martini or not, that glass always makes me feel so elegant!). The Taos Lightning single-barrel rye whiskey (I’m all in for the liquor being local and so are the experts), Salerno blood orange liqueur, a dash of BBQ bitters and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice made a very pretty — and very tasty — potion!
Spirits Lift at Santa Fe Spirits
Hand-crafted spirits are all the rage and thanks to Santa Fe Spirits, I find them right here at home since this craft distiller’s downtown tasting room features five unique local products. Two different malt whiskies, apple brandy and vodka all have pride of place but my recent summer sipping has been gin-focused. Despite her name, my BFF Candy doesn’t like it sweet so she opted for their classic Wheeler’s gin and tonic. My imagination was captured by the Fresa Fresca, a blend of gin with muddled strawberries and basil, a dab of honey simple syrup and lemon and lime juice. Simply divine.
Sipping Signature Santa Fe
After a day spent discovering the magic of our city, I suggest you and your besties relax into evening with an hour or two of laughter and libations. You’ll be delighted to find that Santa Fe’s inventive mixologists have made sure the magnificent reds, oranges and yellows of our sunsets can also be captured in a cup.
Scary movies have their roots not just in dreams, but also in reality. Santa Fe’s history and its spooky stories bubble up through buildings ancient and new. Ghosts of the past in Santa Fe pose an ever-present interest to those whose daydreams drift to the shadowy side. And with Halloween approaching, what better way to create your own mysterious quest than hunting out the haunts where the past still has a living presence. Get your spirits ready for a spine-tingling adventure in Santa Fe!
La Llorona, the Saddest Singer in Santa Fe
Every Santa Fe child has shivered and cuddled closer to the fire when regaled by a grandparent with tales of La Llorona, “the crying woman.” While there are various tellings of this folklore legend, the basics go like this: Local woman falls in love with soldier (heard that before?) and persuades him to marry. She drowns the kids, but instantly regrets it; chasing after them, she falls and fatally hits her head. Even now, you may run into her wandering the riverside, calling out for her lost children. Just searching for her can be spooky enough without even hearing those mournful cries.
The Haunted Halls of Government
As America’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe boasts some fairly elderly ghosts roving around. The Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously occupied government building in the U.S. During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Spanish settlers fought a bloody battle in and around the site. I’ve been told that when the building is empty and still, an observant listener might hear the doomed soldiers crying out in vain for help. Now part of the state’s history museum, the Palace was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1960 and an American Treasure in 1999. The Palace is always worth a daytime visit for a glimpse of traditional architecture and Santa Fe history. The PERA Building (that’s the acronym for the Public Employees Retirement Association) is also said to have some sort of conduit to the deathless past, in that it was built atop a pauper’s cemetery. Rumor has it that no one, state employee or not, wants to be down in that basement alone. Back at the beginning of the 20th century, the city of Santa Fe chose the New Mexico State Penitentiary over the University of New Mexico when the government parceled out institutions. Perched outside of town on Route 14, on the Turquoise Trail, you’ll find a complex of modern correctional buildings. The old portion of the Pen, erected in the mid-1950’s, was closed and locked down tight after an uprising. With the liveliness of the burgeoning New Mexico film industry, the old building has found new life as a film setting. But if actors happen to find inmates invading their dreams, I’m afraid it goes with the territory.
Ghost Tales Are Older Than Dirt
Not only does Santa Fe have some of the oldest government buildings around, but we’re proud to be the home of the Oldest House. Yes, it’s made of dirt, or adobe, as we call it here. Given its age, it’s impossible to determine the authenticity of tales spun around this humble dwelling, but a ghostly presence is reputed to wander up and down the lane alongside. The story I’ve heard says the house was once occupied by a pair of sisters said to be witches, who were apparently tried and dispatched by the townspeople in summary fashion — beheaded, no less. I guess that explains the sightings of a head rolling down De Vargas Street. And if we’re talking local, there’s nothing quite like an old hospital to bring spooky fantasies to life. The old St. Vincent’s Hospital, right in the heart of downtown, opened in 1865 and ushered many a Santa Fean into and out of life. It may interest the haunt hunter to know that there was once an orphanage of the same name right behind the old hospital building. Crying babies … check. Call lights going on and off mysteriously … check. A basement wall oozing blood … spook fiends, this one’s for you! I prefer to remember St. Vincent’s for the fund-raising bed races the staff used to stage on Palace Avenue – a much happier thought.
Guests Check In but Their Ghosts Don’t Check Out
You’d expect a hotel that has entertained many a Western notable to have a haunted history, and La Fonda on the Plaza, long ago known as the Exchange Hotel, has hosted its share of spooky drama; that’s probably why there’s a ghostly package on tap. The lovely La Plazuela dining room, with its colorful painted glass and sky-lighted ceiling, was once an open courtyard with a well in its center. Legend has it that a foolish business man, drawn into a poker game by pros who picked him as a mark, lost the company’s bankroll along with his own, and in desperation, threw himself headlong into the well. And who knows if Chief Justice John Slough still walks the halls after being shot at La Fonda by Col. William Rynerson in 1868 during the Lincoln County Wars? Apparently, Justice Slough drew his derringer as he accused Rynerson of being “a thief of the army, a thief out of the army, a coward, and an S.O.B.” When Rynerson pulled out his own gun, Slough rashly dared him to shoot, at which point, Rynerson obliged with a mortal wound to pay back Slough’s insult.
Julia, Julia, Wherefore Art Thou, Julia
Wouldn’t you want to return to visit your old home if it was like Julia Staab’s mansion? Now the sprawling complex of La Posada Resort and Spa, the Staab mansion on East Palace Avenue was once the grand home of wealthy business magnate Abraham Staab. He amassed his fortune by supplying the U.S. Army during the Civil War. His wife Julia gave birth to six children, but when the seventh died soon after birth, she fell into what we now know as post-partum depression. Her hair is said to have turned white overnight, and over time, she became a recluse, seldom seen outside of her second-story room, where she slipped into madness. Although she passed from this earth at age 52 in 1896, she is said to have loved her home so much she never permanently left room 256, now known as Suite 100. The sight of her elegant, translucent spirit has been reported by so many employees and guests that she became a topic on the television series Unsolved Mysteries.
The hotel’s bar, aptly named the Staab House, is reported to be a favorite target for Julia. Glasses have been dashed to the floor unexpectedly and the gas fireplace turned on and off at will. The temperature inside her room is a noticeable 10 degrees cooler than that of the hallway outside, and camera lens are said to blur unaccountably. Ghost hunters are welcome to stay the night in her room, as long as they are prepared to see a moving object or two during the dark hours before dawn.
Dark Corners and Popular Haunts Welcome Even the Fe-int of Heart
Choosing to make Santa Fe our home has been an exciting tale of discovery for many of us locals over the years. Sometimes these discoveries make us clap with joy and wonderment, and at other times leave us with a shivering sense of the unknowable. The combination of the past and the present, truth and legend, has an ongoing appeal to those who love to wander the historic byways of our town with an eye to discerning fact from fiction. Bring your myth-busting eyes along on a 5:45 pm stroll around the city on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday with Historic Walks of Santa Fe’s Ghostwalker Tour to let some offbeat adventures complement your City Different getaway. You’ll definitely be adding a hefty dose of history and mystery to the art and culture discussions you’ll have over dinner. And if you see Mrs. Staab, please be sure to bring out your 19th century manners – after all, she’s one of Santa Fe’s favorite famous fright-inducing characters.
Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the U.S., which means that ghosts and spirits have had over four centuries to make Santa Fe their home. As the city settles into autumn, the Halloween season begs visitors and locals alike to explore Santa Fe’s haunted history. Do you dare?
Santa Fe’s Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and pioneer cultures each contribute to the city’s spirited remnants. History points to a city built on the ground of an abandoned Tanoan Indian Village, including the sacred Tanoan burial sites. That’s almost a guarantee for spookiness.
As you stroll along the shaded Santa Fe River, be aware of La Llorona (pronounced “LAH yoh ROH nah”) the “Weeping Woman”. Her tall, thin spirit is said to be blessed with natural beauty and long flowing black hair. Wearing a white gown, she roams the rivers, wailing into the night and searching for children to drag, screaming to a watery grave. These days many Santa Fe parents use the legend of La Llorona to keep their children in line. Be good, or La Llorona may come looking for you!
Holy ground always intrigues the spirit-curious and the Chapel of San Miguel, the oldest church in the city, is an iconic staple that will not disappoint. It too was built on top of a burial site in the early 17th century, and was the first building burned in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Hundreds of human remains have been found beneath the church, and many visitors have claimed to see and feel ancient spirits in the sanctuary. Even the gift shop is haunted by the presence of a child that died in the 1940’s. His heavy footsteps and laughter can be heard about the room.
Hoping to visit a site with a bewitched history? The Oldest House, approximated to be 800 years old, once housed a witch and her sister. The two were tried for witchcraft, found guilty and beheaded. The spirit of one can be seen roaming the narrow road just outside the home.
Legendary hotels like the La Posada Hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza and the Palace of the Governors add to the haunted legends in downtown Santa Fe. The ghost of Julia Staab still haunts the room she died in at La Posada, once her lavish residence. Ask for room 101 if you’re brave enough to spend the night. La Fonda Hotel has sightings ranging from ghosts moving through walls to the spirits of a hanged judge stalking the hallways.
If you can’t make it to Santa Fe this Halloween to explore your mysterious side, it offers year-round tours of its most eerie locations. The Original Santa Fe Ghost Tour guides you through the paranormal activity in the city’s past and present.
Listening to the unearthly accounts of Santa Fe’s resident spirits offers a glimpse into the city’s paranormal activity. Book a stay in one of the haunted hotels and they just may come calling!
Discover more spooky surprises in Santa Fe: