DRY POINT DISTILLERS: BRINGING SPIRITS TO THE MESILLA VALLEY

March 27, 2020 Carlos Arreola

Tucked away in the Mesilla Valley, there’s a unique local spot to wet your whistle, Dry Point Distillers. Offering locally distilled spirits and one-of-a-kind, handcrafted cocktails in a laid-back Southwest environment, makes it the perfect place to experience local flavors and relax with friends. Dry Point started as a shared hobby between Chris Schaefer, owner and operator of Dry Point Distillers, and his father, Stefan Schaefer.

They started out trying to brew beer, but their interest quickly grew to liquor when Stefan bought a small still that allowed them to begin experimenting with their favorite liquor at the time, whiskey. “Then we started trying to distill just any ol’ thing,” said Chris. “We tried fruits, red chile, and I would even go out to the dessert for prickly pear and honey mesquite. Anything that I tasted and thought ‘that has a good flavor.’ Then we would ferment it and try to make something out of it. So that is when we really got into distillation and fermenting local items.” Chris is the mastermind behind the operation and the one in charge of distilling Dry Point’s very own Mesa Vodka, Monsoon Gin, Dry Spell Bourbon Whiskey, and Los Pasos Brandy. This family-owned business is not only dedicated to utilizing local produce to create handmade spirits for the community to enjoy but also to support other local businesses and strengthen the Las Cruces community. Chris gets most of his ingredients from FARMesilla, a local food market that offers locally grown produce.

“We have a ton of pride in Las Cruces. My whole mindset and culture identity come from this region . . . and of course, when you have a lot of pride in where you’re from, you want to use stuff that is as close as possible,” says Chris. “Another important thing is that it gives you a lot of local flavors. Our red chile is the best in the world, so we use chile from Hatch and the Mesilla Valley, not from upstate New Mexico or Colorado. That is our specific local flavor and the same thing goes for our prickly pears and pomegranates. Everything has its own local flavor and that is what we are interested in.” If an ingredient cannot be locally sourced, such as citrus fruit and barley, he will find the closest place as possible to Las Cruces to help preserve “our specific local flavor.”

Local liquor is not all that Dry Point has to offer. Chris’ original plan for Dry Point was to just do wholesale, but ideas of a tasting room soon turned into a three-cocktail menu, then a full cocktail menu and bar. Visitors can enjoy handcrafted cocktails complete with infused spirits and simple syrups made in-house with local fruits, botanicals, herbs, and just about anything Chris can get his hands on. “The cocktail side was a bit of a surprise. I wasn’t much of a cocktail guy, but I have definitely turned into a cocktail aficionado,” says Chris. Dry Point is a true microdistillery, located at 1680 Calle de Alvarez, with a small bar and seating area complete with a backdrop of large windows exposing the four working stills in the back room. Their Southwest pride is even extended through their décor of live succulents, various animal skull mounts, and even Southwest-themed cocktail names. After being successfully open for a year and a half, Chris made the decision to graduate from their microdistillery title by expanding their space to allow for more guests. Once it is finished, guests will be able to enjoy a larger seating room, a second bar, bar snacks, and occasionally hot food provided by a locally-owned food truck, The New Mexican.

Another local touch Dry Point showcases are the artwork of two Las Cruces locals, Jamila Gilbert and Bree Lamb. Jamila is the creator of Dry Point’s individual bottle labels. “I had seen her work over the years and knew she would do a great job bringing my labels to life. I knew I wanted to portray desert life, plants, animals, insects . . . and with some collaboration she cranked out some great pieces for me,” says Chris. When it came to Dry Point’s logo, Chris turned to his girlfriend, Bree. “She worked her magic. She is my artistic whiz and not only designed our logo, labels, website, and all advertisements, but also helps me with bar design from picking out colors, bar layout, and we just finished painting an amazing mural in the new space,” says Chris.

Upon the expansion’s completion, Chris is “looking forward to settling in and really honing what we are doing.” It is safe to say when you walk into Dry Point Distillery, you are getting a completely unique local experience, from the flavors to the art, that cannot be duplicated. Dry Point’s spirits can be purchased at the distillery and multiple locations around Las Cruces, such as Kelly Liquors, Celebrate, and most Pic Quiks, and the Electric Playhouse in Albuquerque. Dry Point is open Wednesday through Sunday every week. For the most accurate hours of operation, special event announcements, and drink specials, visit Dry Point’s Instagram and Facebook page

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