front of the house
She's Got Spirit By Ashlie Hughes ∙ Photo by Stephanie Cameron Molly Norton, a Santa Fe native, spent years working as a bartender for various watering holes. She became the tasting room and events manager at Santa Fe Spirits in the summer of 2013 when owner Colin Keegan opened a second tasting room in downtown Santa Fe. Cocktail culture interested Norton, but she confessed that when she started she knew how to make a mean margarita, but didn’t then know much about distilling. A fast learner, Norton can now spout off the details of a fine spirit from how the aging process happens to the complexity of flavor created by the five native botanicals in Wheeler’s Gin. In her new role, Norton wears many hats: hostess, educator, bartender, cocktail creator, and manager of a staff of seven. Her work brings her in constant contact with curious drinkers, and she often is the public face of Santa Fe Spirits. One of the most fulfilling aspects of her work is inventing cocktails for the tasting room menus and for special events with community partners. Norton describes the local bar community as collaborative and regularly seeks advice from Santa Fe mixologists Chris Milligan, James Reis, and Quinn Stevenson. She also collaborates with Kate Wheeler from Santa Fe’s Savory Spice Shop to create unique infusions and flavor combinations using the shop’s collection of spices. In her role as events manager, Norton has established relationships with many in the Santa Fe art community, and Santa Fe Spirits will often serve signature cocktails at gallery openings. Recently, she served the Molecule Cocktail, a custom creation at the Blow Away opening at Molecule Design Studio. Efforts like these keep her, her skills as a mixologist, and Santa Fe Spirits, in demand and a welcome addition to many social events around town. Norton has big dreams for Santa Fe Spirits. She hopes to open a third tasting room in Albuquerque, as well as continue to introduce locals and visitors to Santa Fe Spirits. She says that visiting one of their tasting rooms is different than a visit to a bar. All the cocktails are made with unique and local spirits, and the bar tender can talk to you in detail about how both the cocktail, and the alcohol in it, were made. While having a drink at Santa Fe Spirits can include an education, the tasting rooms can simply be an intimate place to go for happy hour. Ashlie Hughes is a food, travel, and cocktail writer currently living in Santa Fe. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing home bartender, making wine with her husband’s family, and daydreaming about traveling the world. You can view her website at www.ashliehughes.com.
Distillery: 7505 Mallard Way, Santa Fe, 505-467-8892 Downtown Tasting Room: 308 Read Street, Santa Fe, 505-780-5906 www.santafespirits.com
Published on Feb 26, 2014
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