NM Cocktail & Culture Festival | Chef & Shaker Challenge | Taco Wars NM Cocktail & Culture Festival | Chef & Shaker Challenge | Taco Wars
Chef Joe Wrede

This weekend marks the live return of some of the most popular parts of Natalie Bovis’ annual New Mexico Cocktail & Culture Festival. Natalie is offering tickets to two special gatherings on her TheLiquidMuse.com website. Read on for the fun details.


The Chefs & Shakers Challenge is pared down to just one chef, but he’s among Santa Fe’s very best. Joe Wrede, the guy behind Joseph’s Culinary Pub, will be in the kitchen creating one of his imaginative menus. This is one of Santa Fe’s iconic dining spaces too, a charmer of a New Mexico-style dining room and an intimate but lively bar. I hear diners will start with sea bass ceviche, always a good bet at Joseph’s. It will be followed by a pair of red meat courses, a braised lamb shoulder with strawberries, tarragon, and mint jelly, a flavor combo I can’t wait to try. Next up will be a grilled beef tenderloin with a mix of late spring produce. Vegetarian options are available for each course, as well.

The first three dishes will be served with Napa Cellars wines paired by Joseph’s GM/Beverage Manager Starr Bowers. Dessert’s going to feature a cocktail invented by Natalie for the occasion, to be offered with a mix of Joe’s chocolate truffles and cookies. COOKIES!

Taco Wars graphic


Begun in 2017, several years after the rest of Natalie’s annual event was well-established, Taco Wars became an instant hit. The pandemic saw online competitions with guest chefs competing from Santa Fe to London. Even I made a taco for one of these. A distanced version with just one restaurant, Horno, ushered in the return on a small level last June.

The fun competition is back this time, with five newer food businesses, all vendors at CHOMP Food Hall, offering an intriguing array of tacos. Dragonfly Teahouse will scent their meat with tea. Uncle Jam’s will use barbecued pork. Cambodian Chef Nath’s version will feature her signature cuisine. Serum Juice is whipping up a cold fruit taco. Fuoco di Legna plans to create a pair of tacos, one with wild mushrooms, Anasazi beans, and chard, and another with sweet and sour pork belly with firecracker rice, and watermelon pico de gallo. Now, there’s something for everyone!

UM, YOU NEED OM Bottle and can of Om Liqueur

Natalie’s introducing her latest cocktail product, under her Om Liqueur brand, a canned version of Cold Brew with Chocolate Liqueur. It took me a few days to decide what time of day to consume the first of these. I chose after dinner, like a chocolate-espresso martini, which it resembles. It’s so good! I just may crack open another for breakfast. Well, not really, because I have to get back to work, but I could definitely see it as part of a weekend brunch. It’s available now at your favorite liquor store or department. I’m always happy to buy local and hope you will, too. If you come to Taco Wars, one is included in your ticket, which is just another reason to attend.


Saturday, June 11, 6:30 p.m.
Chef & Shaker wine dinner at Joseph’s Culinary Pub
428 Agua Fria, Santa Fe
Tickets through Eventbrite via TheLiquidMuse.com
$130 person in advance, sold in tables of 2 or 4. For larger groups, inquire online.

Taco Wars graphic with dog and cat in taco costumesSunday, June 12, 1 to 4 p.m.
Taco Wars
CHOMP Food Hall
505 Cerrillos, Santa Fe
Tickets through Eventbrite via TheLiquidMuse.com
$16 admission which includes 2 alcoholic beverages and a mocktail. Tacos are $3 each.

Must be over 21 to attend either event. ID required for entrance.

A portion of the proceeds from both events goes to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.

Cheryl Alters Jamison



Story and photographs by Cheryl Alters Jamison.

Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.

Read Cheryl Alters Jamison’s bio here!
This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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