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Glass act: High Desert Flameworks offers custom-made barware

Artisan Rashan O. Jones, owner of High Desert Flameworks, creates a piece of glassware. (Courtesy of Rashan O. Jones)

Just any glass will not do when you’re imbibing your favorite beer, wine and spirits.

Rashan O. Jones knows the importance of choosing the right barware to sip your preferred libation from. His business High Desert Flameworks offers custom-made barware that brings out the best in your drink of choice. High Desert Flameworks uses borosilicate glass for its beerware. It is a heat-tempered glass that does not easily transfer heat from your hand and keeps beer colder.

“Glass is my passion, and when you get into a new product, you have to research it,” Jones said. “I can tell you right now, if you have a particular beer or wine or spirit, there is going to be a particular glass that’s going to make it taste better. Like with the red wine, you want a wider, shorter base so you get more of the nose. With white wines, you get more of the slender shape, ’cause you don’t need to smell it first; you taste it with your mouth first, whereas with a lot of reds, you (smell the aroma) with your nose first. The same with beer. With a really good hefeweizen, you want a nice slender-like Pilsner-style or true hef glass. With the IPAs, you want to have a nice open nose so you can really smell a lot of those florals, because you can take the same beer and drink it in different glasses and it will genuinely taste different based on how it hits your nose.”

High Desert Flameworks offers glassware for wine, beer and spirits. (Courtesy of Rashan O. Jones)

High Desert Flameworks, 1751 Bellamah NW, No. 2109, was once a one-man operation. It later evolved from just Jones to six artisans. The increase in workforce has allowed the business to fulfill larger orders. Jones can be reached at highdesertflameworks@gmail.com to discuss custom orders. Customers can also stop by the store.

Jones love for glass began when he was a child living in El Paso. His grandmother would take him across the border to Juárez for a day trip filled with tacos from the mercado and watching professional glass blowers transform molten glass into colorful creations.

“There weren’t cellphones, there weren’t a lot of distractions, so my grandmother would, for real, have me sit there for three, four hours,” he said. “We would eat tacos from street vendors, and we would just watch this glass come out. So I always loved it. And then about 20 years ago, I had the chance to apprentice at a local shop. … And I got into it, and a lot of my old memories started coming back over the years. So now I’ve been doing it for 20 years.”

Jones also opened up a bottleware company, Jones At Home Collection, about 12 years ago. He made his first wine glasses in 2005 and never looked back. The collection can be found @jonesathomecollection on Instagram.

“I like that really thick glass; I love that,” he said. “I specifically work in the old-school cobalts and translucent greens like 7-Up bottle greens. I have a whole palette at my disposal. I can do pinks and purples and yellows and glittery things, and I do all the time, but when I really work in my passion, I always go back to that. That’s what glass always meant to me, and so it’s really, really cool, and it makes me think of my grandma, which makes me happy.”

High Desert Flameworks created a line of custom barware for New Mexico United. (Courtesy of Rashan O. Jones)

Jones’ work caught the eye of New Mexico United owner Peter Trevisani, who reached out to him. United’s store in Nob Hill carries Jones’ custom-made barware and ornaments, all themed in New Mexico United’s signature yellow-and-black color scheme. Others around the state have also contacted to Jones to get their hands on the custom glassware. Bar Castaneda in Las Vegas, New Mexico, ordered a couple hundred units from High Desert Flameworks to use in-house. Jones has also worked closely with some local breweries, including Boxing Bear, which invited him late last year to take part in a collaboration beer called Just Jonesin’ Peach Cobbler Ale. Jones is in talks with Left Turn Distilling for a future project between Left Turn and High Desert Flameworks.

“That’s where I spend a lot of my time, is just talking to people about just being a service that can add value, because every business has had to kind of pivot and find new ways to kind of survive and maintain,” Jones said. “… Anything we can do to work alongside local businesses to support them supports us, so we always like doing stuff like that.”

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