Bookcase and the Barber gets literary with its cocktails

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

The Bookcase and the Barber is Durango’s only speakeasy (as far as we know …). The barbershop is just a “front” (chosen because the owners wanted something “manly”); if you tell the barber the password, (“Who is Hemingway?”) he will pull open a bookcase to reveal the bar’s hidden entrance. Of course, they’re not sticklers – the password is posted regularly on social media. Durango is an inclusive town, after all.

“The speakeasy thing has been starting to catch on again in the U.S., especially in big cities,” said Beau Black, co-owner. “We’re going back to the golden age of cocktails. You’re not mixing 20 different ingredients in there; you want to taste the alcohol.” Durango was once a rough-and-tumble Wild West town, so a speakeasy seems like a good fit here.

This bar boasts unusual drinks – all author or literary themed, so book lovers rejoice. “These are classic cocktails,” said Black. “We pride ourselves on using the original recipes. One hundred fifty years ago, this is how they were made.” The writers selected to be a part of the menu are some of the most famed and predominant drinkers throughout history (Hemingway, of course, is among them); the employees did research on the authors’ favorite pick-me-ups. Bridgett Tesmer, a bartender and expert mixologist, came up with original cocktails for the menu, too; “Rust and Stardust” got its name from a poem Humbert Humbert writes in Nabokov’s Lolita, while the drink “Thoughtcrime” is a nod to George Orwell’s 1984.

Five of the most interesting drinks on the menu:


Named after Truman Capote, the American author known for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood. His signature drink was a screwdriver, which he referred to as “my orange drink.” This is one of the bar’s most popular concoctions. Ingredients: KGB Vodka Viracocha, fresh orange juice, soda water and orange slices.


Named after William Faulkner, Nobel Prize laureate and American author of The Sound and the Fury. Hailing from the Deep South, Faulker loved mint juleps (most refreshing when it’s hot outside). Ingredients: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, fresh mint, mint simple, Barber’s Bitters and fresh crushed ice.

“Hemingway Part I: Daquiri”

Named for Ernest Hemingway, American author of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway spent so many days and nights drinking at El Floridita, a Cuban bar, that the drink he enjoyed was eventually named the Hemingway Daiquiri. “People expect a classic daiquiri, with strawberries, bananas or a flower in it,” said Black. “But this is the original with only three ingredients: really good rum, lime juice, and syrup. Ingredients: Diplomatico Silver Rum, fresh lime juice, simple, lime wheel.

“Hemingway Part II: Death in the Afternoon”

Hemingway invented the drink and wrote a book about it. This one has a very high alcohol content – so only imbibe if you can handle Absinthe. “Two of these IS death in the afternoon,” said Black. Ingredients: Leopold Bros Absinthe Verte, agave nectar, Prosecco.

“St. Vincent Millay”

American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is the sole woman on the menu. “Back in the day, it was taboo for women to be drinking in public,” said Black. An outspoken feminist, Millay’s drink of choice was a “Between the Sheets;” but she hated that name, so she called it a “sidecar with rum” instead. Ingredients: Germain Robin Brandy, Cointreau, Diplomatico Blanco Rum, Fresh Lemon Juice, Flamed Orange Peel.


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