The Land of Enchantment’s history in making alcohol products is just as wild as it was in the West.
From Simeon Turley manufacturing Taos Lightning – a local moonshine – to Lescombes and Gruet making award-winning wine and the burgeoning craft beer scene, New Mexico definitely has a place in history.
But what about cocktails?
Greg Mays, a local author and founder of Simple Cocktails, just released his latest
book, “New Mexico Cocktails: A History of Drinking in the Land of Enchantment.”
Not only does Mays give some of his favorite and personal recipes for drinks, but he delves into the history.
“The history part was quite a bit of research,” he says. “There were other things that came easy.”
Mays began working on the book last summer and fall and it took him about six months to finish.
What Mays set out to accomplish was to give the reader an inside look at the history of the industry in the state.
“There were plenty of stories that I would hear about the first distillery opening,” he says. “Then others started to pop up. Then they all went away 70 years ago. The distilleries are making a comeback.”
Getting into the history was also the most fascinating part for Mays and he enjoyed
learning more about Prohibition.
He also received help from his publisher about places that aren’t that obvious.
“Then there was the historical documents that mention cocktails,” he says. “These were fascinating to read because the history was right there.”
In the book, Mays says cocktails are a relatively new phenomenon, and even as their popularity spread through the 19th century, it appears that New Mexico lagged on that front, generally reserving cocktails for patrons with more money.
He says New Mexico has established itself as one of the most awarded craft beer states in the country, and the winemaking families have been making quality wines for decades.
“When distilled spirits joined the fray of New Mexico liquor makers, natives could
be found distilling wine, sugar, corn and agave into intoxicating liquors,” he says. “… And it was still a long time before the invention of the word ‘cocktail.'”
Mays has been traveling around the country promoting the book. He will have a few events in New Mexico.
On Sept. 24, he will do a signing at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW.
And he will also have an event at Barnes & Noble, 3701 Ellison NW, on Oct. 29.
2 ounces tequila
¾ ounce lemon juice
¼ ounce simple syrup
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a “blue meth” (blue rock candy) rimmed old-fashioned glass.
– Greg Mays
1½ ounces gin
½ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 cucumber slices
Muddle the gin, lime and cucumber in the bottom of a Collins glass. Fill the glass with ice, stir and top with club soda. Serve with a straw and garnish with a thin cucumber slice.
– Greg Mays
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
½ ounce of lemon juice
1 dash of cocktail bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
– Greg Mays