I was just in Denver visiting the lovely and talented Garrett Hacking, and the first thing he wanted to do was check out The Buckhorn Exchange, a bar and steakhouse that opened in Denver in 1893. It’s not only the oldest restaurant in Colorado, it got the very first liquor license there about 25 years later. (The restaurant has since been designated a National Historical Landmark.)
I’m a big fan of anything involving oldest, first, or landmark, and if you throw bar into the mix, I’m down. I wasn’t too excited about the steakhouse part, being a most-of-the-time vegetarian, but Garrett said he’d heard it was an interesting place that had a good happy hour. And, well, you can probably guess how I felt about that last bit. So we went.
The bar was upstairs, so first we looked around the restaurant, which looked much as it was when it opened. Lots of dark wood, heavy furniture, old-timey artifacts, and animals. Dead ones. So, so many. Heads of animals, entire stuffed animals, you name it – if someone killed it, it apparently then took up residence on the walls of the Buckhorn to live out the rest of its sawdust-filled afterlife.
I don’t have any pictures of it because I was too horrified to get my iPhone out and snap what looked to me like some wildlife zoo gone horribly wrong, but if you go to the website you can witness the carnage.
I think I covered my horror pretty well, especially since I knew there was alcohol waiting upstairs. Garrett took some photos, and here’s one of me at the bar nipping into my first (delicious!) fruity beverage:
Though the cocktails helped and I was able to focus on my conversation with Garrett, I was still trying desperately to ignore the myriad carcasses perched around the bar. I also couldn’t escape the feeling I was being watched, even judged, by a being from beyond.
I’m sorry, Moose. I really, really am.
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