For those who enjoy planning their travels around imbibing, Albuquerque is a great destination. Full of craft breweries, wineries you can bike to and top-quality margarita joints, you’ll be able to enjoy a deliciously tipsy vacation. To help you plan your itinerary, here are the top places to get your drink on in Albuquerque.

1. Garduno’s at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town


Photo: Ralph Daily / Flickr

If you love margaritas, Garduno’s at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town — part of Heritage Hotels & Resorts — is a must. Along with serving traditional New Mexican cuisine made from scratch using fresh, high quality ingredients they offer an impressive menu of tequilas and hand-crafted margaritas. Everything from the syrups to the sour mixes to the juices are fresh pressed and homemade, so you know you’re getting a high-quality drink. Some of the many margarita options to choose from include the “Green Chile Margarita” made with Avion Silver 100% de Agave Tequila, Cointreau, fresh chopped green chili, fresh lime juice and house-made sweet ‘n’ sour; a “Jamaica Margarita” featuring Cazadores Blanco, Cointreau, fresh pressed lime, Jamaica tea and an orange twist over rocks; and a “Blood Orange Margarita” crafted with Santa Fe Silver Coin Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and a mix of blood orange and regular orange juice.

2. Casa Esencia at Hotel Albuquerque

Casa Esencia

Photo: QBar Casa Esencia / Facebook

Also part of Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town is the city’s hottest nightclub, Casa Esencia. Open only on Fridays, you’ll feel like you’re drinking and dancing at a rich friend’s house in South Beach with live DJs spinning house and dance mixes. Ironically, this ultra modern club is housed in a National Register of Historic Places landmark building. Underneath the white walls is traditional adobe, which you can see in certain areas where it is exposed. A color scheme of white and creme allows for a soothing experience, while elegant chandeliers, enormous candelabras, reflective pools, grand pianos, fireplaces and contemporary artwork give the place an opulent yet homey feel. The venue is known for its tasty cocktails crafted by Albuquerque’s top mixologists, although beer and wine is also on the menu.

3. ArtBar


Photo: ArtBar by Catalyst Club / Facebook

The country’s first bar dedicated to helping arts organizations, ArtBar is a membership-based full service bar, gathering and performance space in downtown Albuquerque. While the food menu features dishes by some of the city’s best food trucks — Supper Truck and Boiler Monkey — the drink menu offers classic cocktails, domestic and international wines, local craft beer and cider. The decor of the space is very modern with plush leather banquettes, wide open space and enormous windows. Feel good knowing your money is going toward a good cause. And no worries about not being a yearly member, as visitors can enter as guests of the staff.

4. Il Vicino Brewery Canteen

Il Vicino Brewery Canteen

Photo: Il Vicino Brewery Canteen / Il Vicino Brewery Canteen

Albuquerque may have been late on the craft brew scene, but now that they’ve arrived they’re stealing the show. In fact, the city was named the #1 Up And Coming Beer City by in 2012. What’s special about Albuquerque is the camaraderie between the different breweries, as they share ingredients and tips and help each other out to promote local craft beer in general. One of the top popular craft breweries in Albuquerque is Il Vicino Brewery Canteen, known for their experimental beers and IPAs. The people who run the brewery are jokesters who love making craft brewing fun for everyone in a space that feels like a community hangout. For an interesting experience opt for their “Hop-Kwon-Do,” a sampling of five hoppy beers you battle against each other to see which is the hoppiest.

Another great craft brewery pick is Marble Brewery, which in less than five years has grown to be the city’s second-largest brewery (the largest has been around for 25 years). They’re extremely popular with the locals due to their consistent high-quality as well as the social atmosphere and laid-back vibe with indoor and outdoor seating, local artwork and games. And don’t leave Albuquerque without stopping at Nexus Brewery, Albuquerque’s only soul food restaurant and craft brewery. This one is a great choice for those who want to try some of the city’s less hoppy craft beers.

5. Gruet Winery

Gruet Winery

Photo: Gruet Winery / Facebook

A winery featuring a tasting bar and tables, Gruet Winery is known for their high-quality sparkling wines reminiscent of Champagne, France, as well as their Burgundian-style wines. In fact, the Gruet family originated from Champagne, where they also have a winery. They came to New Mexico in the early 1980s because there was limited opportunity for growth in France. New Mexico was the country’s oldest wine growing region, and the sandy-loam top soil, lower soil filled with clay and sunny weather similar to the soil in Champagne made it an attractive option. Buy a glass or opt for the $7 Cuvee Tasting or the $15 Tete de Cuvee Tasting. Try their “Gruet 2005 Grande Reserve” with hints of apple, citrus, caramel, vanilla and white chocolate; the “Gruet 2007 Grand Rose” which features a delicate floral aroma and tastes of cherry and apple; or their flagship sparkling wine, the “Gruet Brut” which is classic, crisp and rich in complexity.

Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is a freelance travel writer. Her work has been included in outlets like Gadling, Huffington Post, AOL Travel, Fodor's, Matador Network, Vagabondish and The Culture-Ist.

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1 Comment

  1. The Marble Brewery offers a great craft beer selection and a relaxed local place to drink

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