...they go to the Cowgirl, of course.
There are a few things the Cowgirl does particularly well.
1. Allow its waitresses to dress in totally ridiculous outfits.
2. Allow its largely tourist-based clientele to dress in totally ridiculous outfits.
3. Serve BBQ.
4. Serve beer.
I'm not from Texas, but I spent some formative years there. So it's not completely out of character for me—in fact, it feels kinda good—to ease into my old Durango cowboy boots and my tight-ass jeans (the ones Robert Earl Keen signed, years ago, at a show at Santa Fe Brewing Co.) and dig into a brisket sandwich. But the way I see it, there's no need to bring Miller Lite into that scenario. Not anymore.
The Cowgirl doesn't exactly have an extensive cocktail list. (Suffice it to say, it's no Coyote Cantina.)
It does, however, offer some learning opportunities.
Lesson #1, learned once at Grendel's in Cambridge, Mass., but thereafter quickly forgotten: There is no better way to drink a Dark'N'Stormy than outside, with the sun setting and the nip of autumn in the air. That the Cowgirl has this refreshing libation—dark rum and ginger beer, on the rocks with a splash of lime—listed only as a "fall special" on its Oktoberfest menu, is weird, but we'll take it. Get in there before it's over.
For those of you curious as to the Stormy's origins, Wikipedia notes that it's actually trademarked by Gosling's rum in Bermuda. The Dark'N'Stormy shares the title of "Bermuda's National Drink" with the Rum Swizzle, however, which I'd say negates any claim Bermuda may have on the former. Any nation that's going to tie itself to a Swizzle needs to think seriously about its drinking chops.
Cowgirl's version was as a Stormy should be: straightforward and strong—because nobody drinking ginger beer wants to hide the delicious complement of sweet, dark rum.
But Cowgirl's true ability to Respect The Alcohol (even if it's well alcohol) comes through in the Cowgirl Cosmo, which substitutes tequila for the vodka in that Carrie-Bradshaw-invoking, pink-as-a-Texas-cowgirl's-panties symbol of girliness.
Who knew that a tequila cosmo would be better?
If you like your alcohol, it is better—by far. Tequila, if you're far enough removed from that "one night in college" that, trust me, we've all had, is sublime. I don't care if it's—OK, I do care. But even if it's Cuervo (or worse!), that smoky, hint-of-harshness tequila taste signifies the warmth and excitement of la fiesta. And as an esteemed bartender-about-town recently told me—while serving us Cabo Wabo before Old Man Gloom's head exploded in flames—it's the only alcohol that's an upper.
So if you're going to drink a Cosmo in Santa Fe, do it at the Cowgril. With tequila. Watch the tourists, feel the fall settle in and taste the tequila.
319 S. Guadalupe St.