Kimmy Rohrs has been making pottery for five years under the label of Whiskey and Clay, and moved to Santa Fe from Austin in October 2017. A former accountant with a passion for long-distance running and restoring vintage cars, Rohrs' ceramic aesthetic is based in undyed neutral colors of cream and ecru punctuated by shades of camel and brown.
And a dash or two of whiskey.
"I've always had a full-time job while I made pottery," Rohrs explains. "I'd get off work and get on my wheel and throw clay and drink whiskey at night. My go-to drink is whiskey and water, and these cups are the perfect size for a shot of whiskey and a little water and an ice cube."
To achieve her creations, she marbles clay that blends stoneware and porcelain together. Stoneware is stronger and more durable than porcelain, and displays a creamy white color that adds substance and depth to the final pieces. They are high-fired in a kiln up to 2,300 degrees, and Rohrs uses one glaze to achieve subtle permutations of visual texture, reducing the level of oxygen in her kiln to create small shadows of red-tinged, ferrous drips against a striated backdrop. The punctuations of color evoke the caramels and dark brown shades of the spirits meant to occupy the cups.
While whiskey is traditionally served in glass, the case can definitely be made to drink it out of a handmade ceramic vessel. After all, whiskey is unlike wine in that its aromas do not measurably improve when exposed to oxygen. It is a higher-proof alcoholic beverage made from various grains fermented into a mash which is then distilled. Depending on the types of grains, method of distillation and oak aging, whiskey can demonstrate a cornucopia of flavor characteristics such as coffee, chocolate, wood and fire, with roasted notes of walnuts, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel and honey. Other notes include anise, citrus, florals, apricot, hay and dried fruits. Depending on the style, whiskey can range in alcohol by volume anywhere from 40 to 68 percent, although the lower-proof iterations are better for sipping or showing on their own.
The sharp aroma of ethanol can sometimes interfere with the proper enjoyment of whiskey's complex attributes, particularly when served in small glass tumblers. Although different whiskies open differently depending on the glassware used, these handmade whiskey cups are a welcome addition to a well-stocked bar cabinet.
Rohrs' cups resemble the clay jícaras traditionally used to serve mezcal, in that they have a wider, more open mouth allowing for better dissipation of nose-burning whiffs of alcohol. Mezcal is an agave-based distilled spirit, but unlike tequila, it's not limited to one species. International appreciation for its many flavors and permutations grows daily, and many whiskey drinkers enjoy its smoky, earthy character. Fine mezcal also clocks in at an alcohol content of 40 percent by volume, and while Rohrs' creations are slightly larger than a jícara, the shape is similarly conducive to the proper enjoyment of a nuanced, higher-proof spirit.
"Mezcal is another of my favorite things to drink out of these," Rohrs says with a grin. "But 'Mezcal and Clay' just sounded kind of weird."
While Whiskey and Clay's wares are currently featured locally at places like Meow Wolf (1352 Rufina Circle, 395-6369), Beals & Co. (830 Canyon Road, 357-0441), Opuntia Café (922 Shoofly St.) and Alembic Apothecary (1200 Hickox St.)—the latter of which is soon to become the studio space and permanent storefront for Whiskey and Clay beginning in August. The line of whiskey cups are featured for $20 a pop exclusively at a new Triangle District store called Better Together (1703 Lena St., 738-1800). It's the passion project of Daisy Geoffrey, a 29-year-old entrepreneur who previously worked in public relations and marketing for the Santa Fe Opera.
Located in a vibrant turquoise-painted brick building, Geoffrey's shop carries a selection of cool, comfortable clothing for men and women, sustainably produced makeup and skin products, jewelry and housewares. Her overarching style is breezy and fresh, all clean simple lines and neutral colors, with nothing in the shop priced to break the bank. Geoffrey emphasizes that her mission is empowerment.
"I just feel like there are young people in Santa Fe who don't have the chance to express themselves through their fashion," she says. "I want to have a lot of community events too. I think there's a lot of creatives in Santa Fe who need an outlet for what they're doing." In that vein, she hosts the debut party for Whiskey and Clay's line of whiskey cups on Friday July 27.
Although the whiskey cups are ideal for simply enjoying basic libations, local bartender and herbalist Laurel Hunziker crafted a signature seasonal cocktail to be served in Whiskey and Clay's unique containers.
Apricot Old Fashioned
- 1 muddled apricot
- 2-3 dashes cardamom molasses bitters from Ocotillo Herbals
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- Dash honey
Muddle the apricot and honey into the cup, add bitters, then add whiskey. Stir to chill. Garnish with an orange twist or apricot slice.
A Celebration of Whiskey and Clay
5 pm Friday July 27. Free.
1703 Lena St.,