Full of spirit(s): Distillery 505 spirits offers cocktails, bites at new tasting room - Albuquerque Journal

Full of spirit(s): Distillery 505 spirits offers cocktails, bites at new tasting room

From left, Anna Jones and Robert Houston, founders and owners of 505 spirits. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

Ever since pastry chef Anna Jones opened distillery 505 Spirits with her husband Robert Houston, her dough sheeter — a machine used to roll out pastry — has languished in storage.

But no longer.

For the past few months, Jones has been busy in the kitchen developing a menu for 505 Spirits’ new tasting room at 105 Harvard SE, which is tentatively set to open Oct. 7. She’s bringing her hand pies, which she used to sell at farmers markets in Chicago, to the Bricklight District location, among other recipes.

“People (in Chicago) would line up until they sold out,” Jones said. “So I’m just adapting that to New Mexico flavors.”

New Mexican flavors have guided 505 Spirits since the Placitas distillery opened in December 2020. When Houston and general manager Briana Morales were both managers at Total Wine, Houston was thinking about opening a brewery. He soon realized that while the beer market was saturated in New Mexico, there were few locally produced liqueurs. So, the pair set out to develop a line of liqueurs that highlighted local flavors.

“He came home and said, ‘Can you make a prickly pear liqueur?'” Jones said. “… And so I played around with that and we got something that was really delicious. And so that just kind of snowballed.”

Jones and 505 Spirits distiller Ashley Smith even picked their own prickly pear — the pair harvested over 800 pounds of prickly pear in four hours.

Their prickly pear liqueur, Purple People Eater, was soon joined by a green chile liqueur as well as a variety of other liqueurs, vermouths and brandies, each recipe created by Jones.

The tasting room has been in the works for several years. Jones and Houston initially planned to open a tasting room in March 2020, but when the pandemic hit, they decided to sell directly to restaurants and retailers instead.

Now, two years later, 505 Spirits is getting its own tasting room. The space is part restaurant, part bar and part retail space — 505 spirits’ liquor license allows them to sell any liquor produced in the state of New Mexico. While the cocktails at the tasting room will mainly feature their own products, customers will be able to buy liquor from several different local makers.

“… I’m really excited to have a kitchen,” Jones said. “I’m very, very excited and it was really fun putting the menu together.”

Chef Anna Jones, founder and CEO of 505 Spirits Distillery, pours a prickly pear margarita at 505 Spirits in the Bricklight District of Albuquerque. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

The couple sourced much of the space’s decor from estate sales and thrift shops around the city. They have rows and rows of thrifted glassware that their cocktails will be served in.

“Anything cool under $2, we got,” Houston said.

Houston, who has a master’s degree in sculpture from UNM, also built some of the decor with the help of bartender Brian Obar — including welding cocktail-patterned window coverings.

“When you have a degree in art, that’s what happens,” Houston said.

Some of Houston’s personal art collection will hang on the walls of the tasting room.

In spring, the building owners are planning to pull out the parking lot and replace it with an enclosed garden patio — what Houston describes as a “sanctuary.” The patio will include a raised bed where they’ll grow herbs used in their cocktails.

“It’s just gonna be beautiful,” Houston said.

Anna Jones, founder and CEO of 505 Spirits Distillery, pours a cucumber, tomatillo and cilantro margarita at 505 Spirits’ tasting room in the Bricklight District. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

The apple and green chile fritters are a staff favorite. Jones developed the recipe after making mochi donuts with her daughter. The 11-year-old suggested adding a spicy element, and from that Jones created the sweet-and-spicy fritters.

Although 505 Spirits is known for their drinks, the food will be just as important at the new Nob Hill location.

“We definitely want to get our food on the map and in people’s palates,” Morales said.

Houston said that he hopes to develop a group of regulars.

“We make things that once you have them, you’re gonna want to have them again,” Houston said.

Learn more at www.505spirits.com

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