Back when the west was really wild, you could find cowboys and pioneers ending the long, hard workday through the swinging doors of a saloon. Western saloons could be found in every settlement and ghost town after the 1832 Pioneer Inn and Tavern Law, which allowed establishments to serve alcohol without having the customer lease a room for the night, was passed by the US Congress.
Today, some of the original man caves, cantinas, and bars from the wild west are still standing and still serving ice-cold drinks to cowboys and outlaws alike. Take a step back into the American west when visiting these old west saloons.
Old Style Saloon No. 10 / Deadwood, South Dakota
Saloon No. 10 has 171 types of bourbons, scotches, and whiskeys on its menu. In 1876, the same year the saloon originated, Wild Bill Hickock knocked on death's door when Jack McCall shot the Western legend in the back of the head.
Menger Bar / San Antonio, Texas
Menger Bar is among the oldest bars in America. It was built a part of the Menger Hotel in 1858. According to local legend, Menger is the home of the most cattle deals in the United States. It's said that Captain Richard King, the founder of King Ranch, would regularly carry $10,000 in cash to the bar just in case he needed to purchase cattle. The bar served Ulysses S. Grant, O. Henry, and Teddy Roosevelt. In fact, Roosevelt recruited most of his Rough Riders from the Menger Bar. In 1887, the bar was renovated to replicate the pub of England's House of Lords. Take a trip to San Antone and throw back a beer or two, just like in the days of old.
Buckhorn Exchange / Denver, Colorado
Buckhorn Exchange was founded in 1893 by Henery H. Zietz. Being a scout of Buffalo Bill, a rider for the Pony Express, and a bodyguard for the millionaire H. A. W. Horace, Zietz was quite the local legend. The saloon sat across from the depot, which attracted quite a few visitors, including Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt hired Zietz to be his personal guide for a hunting trip across Colorado. Take a visit to the famous saloon and order a Buffalo Bill Cody Cocktail, a mix of bourbon and apple juice, just as he would have ordered it.
Capitol Bar / Socorro, New Mexico
Capitol Bar was established in 1896 by winemaker Giovanni Biavaschi to showcase his wines. While most saloons in the mining town were made out of wood, Biacaschi used stone, adobe, and brick to create an amazing wine cellar and lounge. Biavaschi lost his business due to a business deal, and district judge Amos Green took over the wine bar. Green exchanged the wine for beer and used the back-to-house court and jail people. During prohibition, the wine cellar became a speakeasy. The saloon still serves today, so belly up and order a cold one.
Crystal Palace / Tombstone, Arizona
With gunmen who reenact shootouts and waitresses dressed like Old West call-girls, you're sure to step back in time when you walk through the saloon doors of Crytal Palace. Built in 1879 as the Golden Eagle Brewery, the building couldn't last after being struck by two fires. It was re-built in 1882 as a saloon with a fountain that "spouts forth streams of pure water." The saloon was the hub for locals like Doc Holliday and Virgil Earp. The building has housed ice cream parlors, bus stops, and theaters, but today it stands as a staple of the old west.
Elixir Saloon / San Francisco, California
This saloon has been serving drinks since 1858. In 1906, the original building burned down, but it was built back bigger and better than ever. They serve the best cocktails and brew their own beer.
White Elephant Saloon / Fort Worth, Texas
The famous gunfight between White Elephant owner Luke Short and FW Sheriff "Longhair Jim" Courtright took place in the taphouse. The old western saloon originated in the 1890s in Hell's Half Acre and eventually was moved to the historic Stockyards.
Today, the White Elephant isn't known for brawls, but is instead known for Texas Red Chili and live music -- and the lawman Courtright is rumored to haunt the saloon floors to this day.
Editors Note: This article was originally published on July 12, 2021.
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