Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Getting My Historic on at the Mine Shaft in Madrid, NM

It's been more than 10 years since I was last at the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid, New Mexico. (“Madrid” by the way, is pronounced MAH-drid.) It's only a 60-minute-or-so drive from my sister's home in Los Lunas, but we just never seem to make the trek any more.

So, I was pretty stoked when, at our family Sadie's outing on Monday night, my sister put forward the idea of making a pilgrimage to Madrid after Christmas. Immediately one of my nieces and her daughters jumped on board the Madrid express and a plan was hatched.

You have to love a town where the most modern structure is some sort of community bathroom.
 Madrid is the reincarnation of what was a coal mining town called Coal Gulch in the 1830s. It was a “company town” in every sense of the term. The mining company owned every business and house in the little community, including the Mine Shaft Tavern. Even the Mine Shaft is a reincarnation of sorts because the original burned on Christmas Day 1944. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1947. It has been serving alcohol-infused potables ever since.

The Mine Shaft's stage where we would have seen some live music had we stayed longer.
After the mines closed in the mid 1950s, Coal Gulch qualified for ghost-town status for the next two decades. All manner of spooky happenings make the Mine Shaft the most haunted building in town. Although there is another eatery or two in town, Mine Shaft is clearly the main gathering spot for locals and tourists. 

Today the town's main street is lined with old homes that have been transformed into gift shops, art galleries and boutiques.

The bar stretches on forever, but sadly, unpopulated by locals when we were there.
Its 40-foot bar is the longest in the state, boasts the tavern's PR. A stage for live-music occupies one end of the main room, flanked by the Men's and Women's restrooms that appear to not have been upgraded since the joint was rebuilt in 1947. But that's part of the charm, I guess.

Attached and accessed by a separate entrance is a museum and theater, sporadically hosting stage productions throughout the year.

Featuring several local microbrews, the bar offers a full range of spirits. The menu is typical of bars, but several steps up the quality ladder of most. The onion rings, burgers and fries are worthy of the 50-mile slog from my sister's. 

Mmmmm....Santa Fe Brewery State Pen Porter.
I washed down my buffalo burger and fries with a Santa Fe Brewery State Pen Porter and a Marble Brewery Oatmeal Stout. I had never had the Porter before; it was wonderful!

The rest of the family kept the margarita barista busy. This is another New Mexico joint where you don't have to look over the bartender's shoulder to ensure a superior margarita. Mine Shaft's house margaritas are outrageously delicious.

Not including the two-hour round-trip drive, lunch filled roughly three hours of our day. The only way I could have been happier is if it had occupied another hour or two. I really like this place. I was a little disappointed that more locals weren't populating the bar. Historically, when we've visited, the joint has been jam packed. The locals add a lot of color. It's always looked like the bar in the TV series “Northern Exposure.” Fashion apparently isn't a major concern among the local populace. Nor is dental care.

Otherwise, the excursion was everything I'd hoped for.


  1. Just moved to Delray Beach from Santa Fe....spent many an eveing in Madrid!!!

    1. I lived in south Palm Beach Co. for more than 25 years, including Delray Beach. Madrid has always been one of my favorite places.

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