Elena Trujillo, the bar supervisor at The Shed restaurant in downtown Santa Fe, says she loves interacting with people. Over the past fourteen years, she has perfected the art of bartending. Inspired by traditions in her home country of Mexico, she builds her cocktails with fresh fruits and high-quality spirits. “Tequila and mezcal — I have a passion for them,” she says. “Mezcal is something that represents my country, and I’m proud to be Mexican.”
Trujillo enjoys using prickly pear purée with tequila and mezcal because it lets her achieve a certain kind of balance and flavor in her cocktails. The purée is made from the fruit of the cactus, which grows in the southwestern region of the state.
“Prickly pear purée makes drinks smoother and slightly sweet,” explains Trujillo, as she deftly shakes a cocktail shaker over her shoulder. She strains the beautiful magenta liquid into a stemmed glass rimmed with chile salt. Voilà: a prickly pear margarita.
Says Trujillo, “Prickly pear is one of the flavors that you can play around with. You don’t want to mix mango or strawberry with mezcal, but prickly pear works well.”
The Shed has an extensive margarita menu and a “build your own margarita” option. Prickly pear purée is one of the options that you can add to a traditional or frozen margarita.
Prickly pear purée is available locally and online. If you don’t have the traditional prickly pear purée on hand and want to make your own margarita, Trujillo suggests using another sweetener, such as agave. In a cocktail shaker, combine your choice of tequila and orange liqueur with freshly squeezed lime juice and a splash of prickly pear syrup (available at grocery stores and online). After shaking it, strain the margarita and pour it into a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice. It’s easy to adjust the sweetness of the margarita by reducing or increasing the amount of prickly pear syrup. “The ones I make are less sweet because of the pure flavor of the prickly pear purée I use,” Trujillo says, “but you can balance your flavors any way you want to.” What could be better?
The Shed also offers a number of mezcal cocktails, such as the Jamaicon, which is made with mezcal, hibiscus, lime juice and ginger beer, and the Dulce Diablo, which consists of mezcal, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) and jalapeño-infused lime juice.
Geoff Lambeth is a writer and photographer based in Santa Fe. He spends his free time backpacking, traveling to new places and enjoying old music. Passionate about pursuing under reported issues and sharing untold stories, Geoff aims to showcase a range of experiences and viewpoints through his work.