If you wander far enough into the light-industrial netherworld west of Meow Wolf, you’ll find the workshop and store Art of Chocolate, otherwise known as Cacao Santa Fe (3201 Richards Lane, 505-471-0891, cacaosantafe.com). The team at this true “bean to bar” establishment includes renowned chocolate historian, artisan chocolatier, pastry chef, and native Santa Fean Mark Sciscenti, who — along with partners Derek Lanter and award-winning chocolatier Melanie Boudar — roasts single-origin chocolate from Hawaii, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua. In addition to chocolate-based lip balm ($3.99) and soap ($8), the shop offers a variety of chocolate bars, including the zingy Rise N’ Shine ($10) — which combines caramelized piñon nut, coffee, cacao nib, and red chile — as well as one with a goat-milk base ($12). For an eye-catching gift, assemble a box (available in sizes with four- to 36-piece capacities, $10-$85) of their jewel-like specialty chocolates and truffles from the glass-front display case. The striking Chaco Pottery Shard truffles ($24) mimic the decorative themes of ceramic pieces excavated from Chaco Canyon. Each of the four patterns corresponds to a flavor profile — many concocted with local wild berries, nuts, chile, and spices. Among the flavors: piñon, juniper, and a splash of Santa Fe Spirits Wheeler’s gin (made with osha root, cholla flower, and sage); wild local chokecherry, blue corn atole, cascabel chile, and honey; 72 percent chocolate from Belize with cacao nib and red clay sea salt; and prickly pear cactus with hibiscus and Mexican lime. — Laurel Gladden
The preeminent artisan distillery in New Mexico — and possibly in the entire Southwest — is Santa Fe Spirits, founded in 2010 by Englishman Colin Keegan. The distilling team crafts a range of traditional spirits like vodka, gin, and whiskey — but for an unexpected gift, seek out some of the more distinctive, creative concoctions. The Atapiño liqueur ($30 for 375 milliliters) captures the, ahem, spirit of Santa Fe in a bottle, beginning with a single-malt white whiskey base that is infused with piñon nuts and sweetened with sugar and ponderosa pine resin collected on Atalaya Mountain. In 2016, Travel + Leisure magazine singled it out as the best locally made gift in New Mexico. The limited-release Slow Burn is a gin-based liqueur that is smoked using hickory and applewood ($25 for 375 milliliters), and Santa Fe Spirits’ delightful small-batch apple brandy ($30 for 750 milliliters) is a warming potion touched with vanilla and cinnamon. You can purchase these spirits at the distillery headquarters (7505 Mallard Way Unit 1, 505-467-8892, santafespirits.com), at the downtown tasting room (308 Read Street, 505-780-5906), and at local outlets where spirits are sold (such as Kelly Liquors, Kokoman Fine Wines, Kaune’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods). If you’d like to throw in some swag for good measure, pick up a shirt, hat, flask, or engraved glass. — L.G.
Organic Balsamic of Monticello (organicbalsamic.com) is a small group of organic farms in the tiny village of Monticello, northwest of Truth or Consequences, that crafts a rich, rare vinegar in the traditions of Italy. This delicious rarefied commodity — one thousand bottles or fewer are available for purchase each year — is a perfect gift for the food lover in your life who warrants a splurge ($41 for a one-ounce bottle, $154 for 4.5 ounces). Made with organic estate-grown grapes and aged for 21 years in ash, acacia, cherry, chestnut, juniper, mulberry, or oak casks, Monticello balsamic has a luscious texture and a flavor that walks a tightrope between acidity and sweetness, with pleasant hints of wood. The “condiment” version ($64), which is also aged in rare wood casks but for less than 12 years, is suitable for the budget-conscious and still makes a special, uncommon treat. — L.G.
Select Woodcraft (selectwoodcraft.com) is a primarily online business run by Albuquerque-based Austin Marland, who sells lovely petite lathe-turned rolling pins made of curly maple, black walnut, purple heart wood ($15) and California redwood burl ($25). These sweet, small, untapered pins — they’re roughly 1 inch in diameter and 10 inches long — are ideal for bakers and tortilla makers, and their compactness and lack of handles makes them easy to store. Marland also offers honey dippers ($15); made-to-order bottle openers in a variety of woods, including osage and purple heart ($20); and beautiful cutting boards. A walnut board with a graceful maple inlay ($45) would also make a lovely display for, say, a holiday cheese plate. Note that Select Woodcraft sells primarily through Etsy (etsy.com/shop/SelectWoodcraft), so some advance planning may be required. — L.G.
Co-founder Liz Rees opened Spirited Goods (505-216-0836, shelbyhousesf.com/spirited-goods-shop) in 2018. Now tucked into Shelby House, a gallery and event space at 220 Shelby St., the boutique, she says, “is all about celebrating the cocktail (and mocktail) hour and entertaining at home.” While the shop sells everything you need to host a stylish cocktail party — bar tools, stirrers, napkins, pitchers, shakers, small plates, glassware, and tea towels — it is particularly well-stocked with bitters and syrups that can add complexity to both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. Among the many options: Marie Laveau Tobacco Bitters, Opulent Odessa Orange Bitters, Bangkok Betty Thai Spice Bitters, and Joker Judy Chocolate Walnut Bitters, all made by Bitter Queens ($37 for a set of four half-ounce bottles); Cardamom Bitters from The Bitter Housewife (100 ml., $26); and made-in-Santa-Fe Mexican Mole Cocktail Bitters from The Bitter End (2 oz. for $26). Syrups include Albuquerque-based Los Poblanos Lavender Simple Syrup (17 oz., $18); Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup (375 ml., $22); and Strongwater’s Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup (7 oz., $22.50). Rees encourages sampling before you buy and offers suggestions and recipes for using the concoctions. Drop a bottle into a stocking, or assemble several for a more substantial gift. And if you’re on the hunt for something more luxurious — like a vintage Art Deco cocktail shaker or glassware that is as much art as artifact — check out the award-winning Revolution glasses by architect Felicia Ferrone. Handcrafted by master glassblowers in borosilicate glass to be dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe, a set of two is $190. — Patricia West-Barker
Santa Fe Basket Company has been assembling gift boxes and baskets that reflect Santa Fe’s unique cultural and culinary heritage since 1992. About 75 percent of the products included are made in New Mexico. There are dozens of Southwestern and Santa Fe-themed baskets on the company’s website (santafebasketcompany.com), ranging in price from $45 to $220 and up. The special online holiday catalog includes 11 themed selections; also available are pet treats ($9.95) and more substantial snacks for dogs and cats (from $33). The Waiting for Santa box ($45) includes bizcochitos and other cookies, candies, and chipotle corn puffs. Spice Up the Holidays ($58) is filled with sweet and spicy selections like chile caramel corn, fire-roasted salsa, and “killer” pecans. The Whole Enchilada ($165) includes a large selection of ingredients (including green chile stew, blue-corn pancake, and mole mixes) for preparing New Mexican meals wherever you are. Baskets can be ordered online or by phone between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Gifts that are staying in town can be picked up or delivered for a fee. If you will be shipping your presents, owner Patti Rogoff-Kalinski emphasizes that it’s important to order baskets as early as possible because unpredictable winter weather can cause delays. For phone orders, call 505-986-8643. You can also call that number for information about shipping deadlines, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. — P.W.B.
The Santa Fe School of Cooking (125 N. Guadalupe St., 505-983-4511), was founded by Susan Curtis 30 years ago to “showcase New Mexican agriculture and food products and the unique cultural heritage and distinct cuisine of the region.” Now directed by her daughter Nicole Curtis Ammerman, the school includes a retail store and online marketplace. You can choose a gift or basket online (santafeschoolofcooking.com) or stop by the shop (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sundays) to place an order, create a custom basket, or see what’s ready to grab-and-go for under the Christmas tree.
The 16 items in the gift basket catalog range from a hot-sauce sampler ($25 for three 5 oz. bottles) to a collection of enchilada-makings ($165, includes a pot to cook it in and a dish towel for cleaning up). All of the products featured in the school’s baskets are made in New Mexico, with the exception of the handmade micaceous black pottery from Colombia included in some of the packages. Posole Essentials ($132), one of the most popular baskets, Ammerman says, includes a pot, wooden spoon, and all the chiles and spices to make that Santa Fe holiday standby. Red Green Go ($64) is a gift that answers the iconic New Mexican question with jars of red and green chile sauce, red and green salsas, chile powder, and dip mixes. Note that basket prices do not include delivery, shipping charges, or local taxes where applicable. — P.W.B.
Pig Boy Willy served its famous carne adovada burritos from a food booth on the Plaza during Fiesta from 1984 to about 2004, developing a cult following. When the owners retired the business, fans begged for the recipe. The result: Pig Boy Willy Famous Carne Adovada Spice Mix. The 2.1 ounce packet is available online (pigboywilly.com) for $4.50 plus shipping, or at La Montañita Co-op (913 W. Alameda St., in the Solana Center) for $4.99. A blend of New Mexico-grown red chile, garlic, wheat flour, and salt, it’s a great stocking stuffer — though probably not for your aunt from Des Moines. Be warned: This sauce is spicy, even if you don’t stir in the separate sleeve of chile pequin. Pick up a package and prepare to reminisce. “Every time you make Pig Boy Willy’s Famous Carne Adovada,” the website teases, “it takes you back to those wonderful September weekends on the Plaza. Even if you weren’t there.” — P.W.B.
If someone on your gift list thinks thrifting — and helping others — are the highest forms of gift-giving, Kitchenality (1222 Siler Road, 505-471-7780, kitchenangels.org) is well stocked with a wide selection of “gently used” items for cooking, baking, serving, and entertaining. New Kitchen Angels aprons are available, as is the organization’s Seasons of Santa Fe cookbook ($24.95). During the holidays, the shop also sells house-made spice rubs and spiced pecans. All sales directly support Kitchen Angels’ free meal delivery to homebound and seriously ill Northern New Mexicans. Stop in to see what’s on hand between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, or take a look at the shop’s postings on instagram.com/kitchenalitysf. — P.W.B.
Prices and availability for these gift items are subject to change