Welcome to Bourbon & Lace, SFR's new cocktail blog, which will be appearing weekly on Fridays (admittedly, a day late this week because the author did a little too much qué viva-ing on the night of Zozobra). The goal: scoping out the best/fanciest/oddest drinks in Santa Fe. And, of course, drinking them—for your benefit, not mine. Qué viva!
Secreto Lounge at Hotel St. Francis
The Franny, as some affectionately call it, first attracted me for one reason and one reason alone: the high-ceilinged, perfect-for-people-watching porch, furnished with fascinatingly huge candles—they're the size of small children—and cushy, inviting sofa-benches that never seem full. If you work at a frenetic pace, the Franny porch offers the cool allure of something much slower. It's reminiscent, perhaps unfortunately, of colonial-era leisure. It's downright relaxing.

(I should mention that the service is usually good, if not exactly speedy, but on the night of Zozobra, the bar was grossly understaffed—one girl for indoor and outdoor service, and she seemed pretty pissed about it.)

Secreto Lounge, the porch's indoor extension, serves a clientele that's often surprisingly varied. There is, predictably, always a table of elderly and very well-heeled tourists (likely the ones also rich enough to actually stay at the hotel), but it isn't usually too hard to find a couple of hipsters, some St. John's students and/or the occasional harried-reporter type.

But enough about the incidentals. The point of the Franny is to sit back with a truly excellent (if pricey; cocktails range from $9 to $13) concoction and watch the world go by. The head bartender, Daniel Gonzales, is a pro with the classics—which makes this one of Santa Fe's premier locations to get a good Negroni or Old Fashioned. (Read SFR's interview with Gonzales here.)

My go-to favorite, however, is the Basil-ica, a freshly sweet combination of St. Germain, basil, vodka and lemon juice. It's girly to the point of a Sex and the City-era Cosmo, but it's also delicious to the point that my mother, who drinks exclusively margaritas, brought a flask of her version of the Basil-ica on vacation. (She's not a lush, I swear. We were going to Utah.)

This week, in honor of Fiestas, I opted for something a little more Santa Fe: the Agave Way, an odd mix of tequila with fruits and vegetables. From the menu:

"Chamucos Reposado tequila, fresh New Mexico green chile, grapes, and lime juice, agave nectar"

(I'm going to suspend any disbelief about who checks the grammar on bar menus.)

The Agave Way is, in the end, less challenging than it sounds. The grapes are puréed with the rest of the drink, and the green chile offers just a hint of spicy aftertaste. It's a lovely drink for those not enamored with sugary cocktails, and it was a good start to a long night of tequila flights.

Secreto Lounge at Hotel St. Francis
210 Don Gaspar