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Back on track: Palmer Brewery reopens Raton bar, readies Old Town location

The bar area of the Palmer Brewery and Cider House/Left Turn Distilling location at Mountain and Rio Grande NW in Old Town, tentatively scheduled to open in April. (Courtesy of Palmer Brewery and Cider House/Left Turn Distilling)

Last year was a time of growth and expansion for Palmer Brewery and Cider House/Left Turn Distilling.

The brewery, cider house and distillery owners were busy working on a new taproom in Old Town and also opened Gate City Craft Bar in Raton a few days before the first shutdown due to the pandemic, a year ago. But the doors open again in Raton at limited capacity, and the taproom in Old Town is tentatively scheduled to open in April. The brewery and distillery acquired the Old Town space in April 2020, but the COVID pandemic put plans to open behind schedule.

“We’ll have a beer and cider and New Mexico-made spirits,” said Robert Palmer, owner and brewer at Palmer Brewery and Cider House and Left Turn Distilling partner. “It’ll be a full bar with our spirits. We’re right on the corner of Mountain and Rio Grande in the old Candy Lady building. … It’s cool because it’s got a large, spot for a patio out back.”

The Old Town taproom will feature a full restaurant. It will be run by friends of Palmer’s including staff from Kitsune Food Truck, Wine.Dive., and other eateries in town. The taproom will also feature about nine taps, including Palmer craft beer and possibly rotating craft beers from other New Mexico breweries.

Palmer Brewery and Cider House/Left Turn Distilling’s original location, 2926 Girard NE, will remain open. Its current hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. It recently put a roof on its patio and added outdoor heaters. Limited seating is available inside and outside in compliance with the current health order.

The distillery has bulked up its infused vodka offerings and is up to about a dozen choices. Left Turn also started packaging for bottle sales of its red and green chile vodkas.

The distillery took advantage of the shutdown to create a new gin, appropriately named The Gin Who Stole Christmas. The dry gin was released during Christmastime last year.

Gate City Craft Bar in Raton has reopened at limited capacity. Palmer Brewery and Cider House/Left Turn Distilling opened the space a few days before the first pandemic shutdown. (Courtesy of Robert Palmer)

“Chris (Medina), our distiller, that was one of his first projects,” Palmer said. “And it’s a dry gin. … So it’s a drier, more traditional-style gin. But he did a bunch of fun stuff in the botanicals, like cranberries and stuff like that. It’s got a slight pink hue to it, and it’s awesome.”

The pandemic shutdown also gave the brewery time to make three new lagers: a Mexican lager, German Fest lager and a Helles lager. The Mexican lager is now one of the brewery’s house lager offerings, and the German Fest and Helles style are seasonal.

“It is a really light lager,” Palmer said of the Mexican lager. “… It’s not real hoppy. But we did we did add some corn to it, and that’s how it makes it the Mexican lager. That’s what gives it the Mexican lager feel, is the corn. But it’s real nice.”

Head bartender Miranda Chavez is the guru behind the cocktail kits offered at Palmer Brewery and Cider House/Left Turn Distilling. She created a michelada kit to complement the Mexican lager. Micheladas are usually made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice and chile peppers.

“She decided that she was gonna take it upon herself to build these little michelada stars that basically comes with the beer and the glasses,” Palmer said. “(The kit has) everything you need. Basically, to make the michelada (there’s) these little stars that you drop in and they dissolve in (the Mexican lager). And that’s the actual michelada stuff that’s added to the beer.”

Chavez has also created many cocktail kits that customers can create at home including spicy Bloody Mary kits with Left Turn’s red or green chile vodkas, a Blue Corn Old Fashioned kit, a Mojito kit and more. Patrons interested in purchasing a cocktail kit can go on Left Turn’s social media pages at instagram.com/leftturnabq or facebook.com/LeftTurnDistilling and send a message regarding what type of kits they would like to order, and Chavez will respond. A list of Left Turn’s spirits can be found at leftturndistilling.com.

Palmer is excited to welcome guests back to Palmer Brewery and Cider House/Left Turn Distilling.

“People have been amazing throughout this whole ordeal with the pandemic,” he said. “Everybody’s been eager to support us and has been patient. So it’s been awesome. … We can (seat) 24 (people) outside and now 21 inside. It’s not ideal, but it’s way better than it’s been. We’re just happy to see all our friends again.”

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