UNTIL THE 1960S, MANY STATES DID not permit a woman without a male escort to sit at a bar, never mind take her seriously as a spirits aficionado. Ironically, women are credited with fermenting grains into beer thousands of years ago, a woman in ancient Egypt is believed to have created the first alembic (pot) still, and the wife of an early Chinese emperor is said to have been the first person to create a distillate from rice.

The topic of women in the liquor industry is one near to my heart because back in 2006, I was one of the few women blogging about mixology. As interest grew, some misguided liquor companies sent me samples of cloying swill with cringeworthy marketing materials stating, “It’s pink, women love it!” I felt the insult not only for myself but for all women who were dismissed as sweet-wine-sipping bubbleheads.

Since then, I’ve co-founded a liqueur, written five cocktail books, taught classes across the nation, and created NM Cocktails & Culture, our state's first mixology festival, in my hometown of Santa Fe. And I’m certainly not the only woman leading the masses to mixology. My inspiration has come from other courageous women forging new paths in the spirits business. In our state, we have many impressive libation-making ladies. Here are a few whose toast-worthy alcohol is making waves here and beyond.

Caley Shoemaker crafts a luxe but comfortable vibe at As Above So Below Distillery.

Caley Shoemaker, As Above So Below Distillery
545 Camino de la Familia, Santa Fe
505-916-8596, aasbdistillery.com

“I LOVE PROBLEM-SOLVING, WORKING WITH interesting and unique materials, and feeling like the work I do is connected to the greater community,” says Caley Shoemaker, who co-founded As Above So Below Distillery with her husband, Jeff Gust. “Making spirits offers all of this, and it has become a career that I find truly fulfilling.” The acclaimed industry leader got her first glimpse of whiskey making during a 2009 tour of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey distillery, in Denver, one of the few craft spirit makers in the nation at the time. That fateful day ignited her passion, and she took a job there while finishing her art degree. In 2015, Shoemaker became head distiller at Hangar 1 Distillery, in California, making her one of a handful of women to break into that role. Always eager to share knowledge, Shoemaker taught distillation techniques at the University of California at Berkeley, and via the American Distilling Institute.

Still, she longed to return to the Rockies. So when she and her husband, a brewer himself, visited Santa Fe for an anniversary trip, they realized it was the perfect launchpad for their own business. “I love how art is woven through this city,” Shoemaker says. “The beauty of the landscape, architecture, and culinary scene is unmatched.”

In 2022, they opened As Above So Below, in the popular Railyard District. At the heart of the space is an impressive pot still they’ve named Lillith, which can be admired through big glass windows in the tasting room’s bar. Pot stills are typically used for distilling brandies and whiskey. A pair of column stills next to Lillith is used for vodka production.

The real magic, though, is in the countless little jars stacked on shelves in a locked room. “I love to learn about medicinal, practical, and ritual uses of different plants, then experiment with them in spirits,” Shoemaker says.

She celebrates New Mexico’s biodiversity in her products and takes inspiration from chefs, perfumers, and herbalists. Her Sigil gin features 14 botanicals, leaning heavily on piñon, juniper, and sage. Her goal was to create a gin “that tastes like the smell of hiking here in New Mexico.” And, because New Mexico allows for direct-to-consumer sales, she can experiment with one-off offerings only available through the on-site bottle shop, a treat for tourists and locals stopping by.

Anna Jones, 505 Spirits
105 Harvard Dr. SE, Albuquerque
505-407-2347, 505spirits.com

PLAYFUL NAMES SUCH AS PURPLE PEOPLE EATER and El Bombón, along with whimsical labels, immediately alert imbibers that they are taking a deep dive into fun at the 505 Spirits tasting room, in Albuquerque.

Owner Anna Jones’s 25 years in the food industry gave her a strong understanding of scaling recipes, packaging, and maintaining consistency. Head distiller Ashley Smith, who also has a culinary background, runs the copper pot stills and oversees production.

The distillery itself is nestled into the foothills of Placitas, where each of the women lives, overlooking sweeping vistas where wild horses roam. Their products are made in small batches without additives, preservatives, or artificial colorants.

The biggest challenge, initially, was sourcing the best local ingredients. Eventually, they teamed up with farms that helped them gain the New Mexico True certification for their red and green chile liqueurs. “I can tell when people are tasting red or green because they are smelling, smiling, and shaking their heads in disbelief,” Jones says. “It literally is freshly roasted or sun-dried local chiles, plus some spices and herbs, and a touch of organic cane sugar.”

The women pick their own prickly pear fruit at A&J Family Farms, in Lemitar, for the Purple People Eater liqueur. “Ashley and I picked 876 pounds in four hours,” Jones says. “I do it two-handed with two pairs of tongs,” Smith adds. “Tongs are a must.” The labor of prickly love is worth it because Purple People Eater remains their top-selling product. Mixed with sparkling wine, it’s festive for toasting all year round.

Dave Crosley and Teresa Dahl-Bredine opened Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery​ in 2012. Photograph by Gabriella Marks.

Teresa Dahl-Bredine, Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery
200 N. Bullard St., Silver City
575-956-6144, littletoadcreek.com

TAKE A SIP OF PENDEJO PORTER, POP OPEN A Watermelon Jalapeño Mixed-Up Mule, or indulge in a Biscochito Martini and taste the New Mexican influence throughout Little Toad Creek’s offerings. Teresa Dahl-Bredine’s family moved to Silver City when she was just three years old, and the landscape and culture seeped into her psyche. She met her husband there when they were in fifth grade, and they are passionate about being part of the community.

In 2011, when craft distiller’s licenses became available in New Mexico, Little Toad Creek was the third in the state to win approval. Dahl-Bredine was also ahead of the canned cocktail craze when she created the Mixed-Up Mule open-and-serve cans in 2019, which now represent 80 percent of the company’s distribution. “It was an exciting new product segment with unlimited boundaries as far as flavor and formulation,” she says. “We had fun choosing combinations that would appeal to a variety of taste buds.”

As spirit lovers know, tequila can only be made from the Weber blue agave plant in Mexico. Little Toad Creek, however, was developing agave spirits this side of the border before most other distilleries in New Mexico. “Our Five Ducks agave spirits were inspired by closeness to the Mexican culture and our love of tequila,” Dahl-Bredine says. “Our Café Nocturno is a coffee liqueur with the Mexican influence of chocolate and cinnamon.”

For the last decade, Dahl-Bredine has taken an active role in developing our state’s spirits community. Her taprooms in Silver City and Las Cruces even showcase fellow brewers’ beer and cider. In addition to running production at the brewery, distillery, and pubs, her team also handles distribution of their beers, spirits, and cans.

This drink showcases two remarkable products made at As Above So Below Distillery: a world-class gin and an aperitivo that rivals established brands from Europe.

1 ounce As Above So Below Sigil gin

1 ounce As Above So Below Aradia aperitivo

1 ounce Vara Vermut Dulce sweet vermouth


Serves 1

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

When head distiller Ashley Smith says that she makes this Spicy Green Chile Margarita with friends for Taco Tuesdays at home, you know it will be a winner in your home-bar repertoire.

2 ounces 505 Spirits Burquila joven agave spirit

1 ounce 505 Spirits Green Sauce green chile liqueur

1 ounce fresh lime juice

½ ounce Green Chile Lime Syrup (see below)


Garnish: salt, Jillipepper Hot Fiesta Pepper,* and a lime wedge



1 cup sugar

1 cup water

3 or 4 roasted green chiles

Lime zest, to taste

Serves 1

1. Mix equal amounts of kosher salt and Jillipepper Hot Fiesta Pepper mix on a small plate. Moisten the rim of a glass with lime, dip it in the spicy mixture, and set aside.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass, pour over fresh ice in the glass if you are enjoying it on the rocks, and add the lime wedge.



1. Boil sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Add roasted green chiles and lime zest.

2. Remove from heat, chill, and strain before use.

*Order New Mexico–made Jillipepper products at jillipepper.com.

This decadent drink from Little Toad Creek is a tippling treat any time of day, but is especially delightful after dinner, while sitting in front of a roaring fire or under the big New Mexico sky.

1½ ounces Five Ducks Silver Agave spirit

¾ ounce Little Toad Creek Café Nocturno spiced coffee liqueur

1½ ounces chocolate syrup

3 drops mole bitters (optional)

1½ ounces half-and-half


Garnish: a pinch each of ground cinnamon, cocoa powder, and red chile powder, plus a mint sprig

Serves 1

1. Mix cinnamon, cocoa powder, and red chile powder together on a small plate. Moisten the rim of a martini glass with lime or water, dip it in the spicy mixture, and set aside.

2. Place remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into rimmed martini glass.

3. Sprinkle with spice mix and add mint.

Natalie Bovis’s latest book, Drinking with My Dog (Running Press), has tips on everything you need to set up your home bar.Natalie Bovis’s latest book, Drinking with My Dog (Running Press), has tips on everything you need to set up your home bar. Plus, you’ll find recipes for more than 60 delicious cocktails organized into dog-themed chapters, including rescue dogs, famous fur babies, and wild dogs, as well as libations for pawlidays throughout the year. Enjoy canine history, whimsical illustrations, and toast-worthy quotes. Find it at your local bookstore or at nmmag.us/runningpress.