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Better with bourbon: Zacatecas follows trends, expands beyond tacos and tequila

Keeping up with trends, Zacatecas, known for its tacos and tequila, has installed a bourbon bar.

“It’s a really big thing all over the country to have a taco and tequila bar,” said Brenna Thompson, Zacatecas Tacos + Tequila + Bourbon general manager. “During this construction for ART (Albuquerque Rapid Transit), we, like everyone, have been struggling for business, and you know we hit our five-year mark in business so we kind of wanted to update ourselves and reinvent a little bit of our business.”

Zacatecas owner and chef Mark Kiffin thought it was a good time to construct the bourbon bar while east Central Avenue, right outside, was undergoing construction. The bourbon bar and its custom panel art were created by local artist Pat Torres of Eyeball Busters. The bar itself took two days to install.

“It was a matter of we were struggling, and what a better time to do construction and kind of update our look while the street is being updated, as well, kind of thing,” Thompson said.

The bourbon menu is separated into three categories: rye, Kentucky and world. Prices vary, with the most expensive, Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece, going for $58 a shot. The bar also features High West, made in Utah, and Buffalo Trace, made by the same people who make Pappy Van Winkle whiskey. Pappy Van Winkle is difficult to find, due to the limited number of barrels produced annually, according to Thompson. Zacatecas also will be getting a barrel select from Knob Creek.

“Right now, we have four signature cocktails on the menu,” she said. “One of the most popular is the New Mexico Sazerac. And we make that with the Taos Lightning Rye whiskey, and then we hand-make a praline and piñon simple syrup to put into it, as well.”

Seven beer taps were added to the bourbon bar, and Zacatecas also will add more bottled beers to its list. Zacatecas is looking to expand its darker beer offerings and carry beers that nearby bars and restaurants do not carry.

“We are getting some of the bourbon barrel-aged beers in,” Thompson said. “We actually have a producer – it’s called Lion’s Reserve, and it’s made in Scotland. So he produces the whiskey and he uses the barrels to make beer. So we’re going to have some bourbon ales on there.”

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