Above: Inside Founders Speakeasy. Photograph Courtesy of Founders Speakeasy.
I stepped inside of El Rey Liquors, in downtown Albuquerque, thinking, Is this right? I saw no signs and heard no hubbub. But when I saw a man seated on a stool near a freezer in the back, I thought, This must be the place. I said the password and, next thing I knew, the freezer door opened to reveal a secret staircase in place of the expected tower of six-packs.
Founders Speakeasy was at the end of the stairs. I sidled up and ordered a New Mexico Old-Fashioned made with Taos Lightning bourbon. The flavor? Incomparable. The Sangre y Arena, a sweeter drink made with cherry brandy and fresh orange juice, was a close second.
Founders has about 150 spirits for its craft cocktails, including up to 10 house-infused spirits. The seasonal menu features 10 signature cocktails, alongside wine and beer. Get your password on foundersabq.com so you can visit, too. If you can find it.