Full of spirits: Distillery 505 spirits offers cocktails, bites in new tasting room

From left, Anna Jones and Robert Houston, founders and owners of 505 Spirits. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

Ever since pastry chef Anna Jones opened the 505 Spirits distillery with her husband Robert Houston, her dough sheeter — a machine used to roll pastry — has been languishing in storage.

But not anymore.

For the past few months, Jones has been busy in the kitchen developing a menu for 505 Spirits’ new tasting room at 105 Harvard SE, which is tentatively scheduled to open on October 7th. She brings her hand pies, which she used to sell at Farmers Markets in Chicago, to the Bricklight District location, among other recipes.

“People (in Chicago) would line up until they sold out,” Jones said. “So I’m just tweaking it for New Mexico flavor.”

New Mexican flavors have guided 505 Spirits since the Placitas distillery opened in December 2020. Since Houston and general manager Briana Morales were both executives at Total Wine, Houston considered opening a brewery. He quickly realized that while the beer market was saturated in New Mexico, there were few locally produced liqueurs. So the couple set out to develop a line of liqueurs that highlighted local flavors.

“He came home and said, ‘Can you make a pear liqueur?'” Jones said. “… And then I played with it, and we got something that was really delicious. And then it just kind of slunk.”

Jones and 505 Spirits distiller Ashley Smith even picked their own prickly pear — the pair harvested over 800 pounds of pear in four hours.

Their pear liqueur, Purple People Eater, was soon joined by a green chili liqueur as well as a number of other liqueurs, vermouths and brandies, each recipe created by Jones.

The tasting room has been in the works for several years. Jones and Houston originally planned to open a tasting room in March 2020, but when the pandemic hit, they decided to sell directly to restaurants and retailers instead.

Now, two years later, 505 Spirits is getting its own tasting room. The space is part restaurant, part bar, and part retail — 505 Liquor’s liquor license allows them to sell any liquor produced in the state of New Mexico. While cocktails in the tasting room will mainly feature their own products, customers will be able to purchase spirits from several different local producers.

“… I’m really excited to have a kitchen,” Jones said. “I’m very, very excited and it was really fun putting the menu together.”

Chef Anna Jones, founder and CEO of 505 Spirits Distillery, pours a prickly pear margarita at 505 Spirits in the Bricklight District of Albuquerque. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

The couple sourced much of the room’s decor from estate sales and thrift stores around town. They have rows and rows of thrifty glass that their cocktails will be served in.

“Anything cool under $2 we got,” Houston said.

Houston, who has a master’s degree in sculpture from UNM, also built some of the decor with the help of bartender Brian Obar — including welding cocktail-patterned window coverings.

“When you have a degree in art, that’s what happens,” Houston said.

Some of Houston’s personal art collection will hang on the walls of the tasting room.

This spring, the building’s owners plan to pull out the parking lot and replace it with an enclosed garden patio — what Houston describes as a “sanctuary.” The terrace will include a raised bed where they will grow herbs used in their cocktails.

“It’s just going to be beautiful,” Houston said.

Anna Jones, founder and CEO of 505 Spirits Distillery, pours a cucumber, tomatillo and cilantro margarita at 505 Spirits’ tasting room in the Bricklight District. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

Apple and green chili fries are a staff favorite. Jones developed the recipe after making mochi donuts with her daughter. The 11-year-old suggested adding a spicy element, and from that, Jones created the sweet-and-spicy fries.

While 505 Spirits is known for its drinks, the food will be just as important at the new Nob Hill location.

“We definitely want to get our food on the map and on people’s palates,” Morales said.

Houston said he hopes to develop a group of regulars.

“We make things that once you have them, you want to have them again,” Houston said.

Learn more at www.505spirits.com

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