A couple weeks ago a friend got back in town after being gone for a few months. He missed my birthday and wanted to take me out and celebrate it late. We went out and we went out hard. Of course, it didn’t hurt that my friend was telling everyone that it was my birthday. We went to as many bars as we could and basically got every specialty shot that Durango has to offer. A couple days later, it was a coworker’s actual birthday, and we did the same thing. Yes, it was a rough couple of days.
Doing this type of bar crawl in Durango isn’t hard, but if you want to do it right, if you want to set yourself up for maximum fun and get all the best of Durango, you’ll follow my lead.
Usually the best place to start is at Orio’s Roadhouse, home of the Purple Fucker. Not exactly sure what goes into this sour beast (my guess is equal parts flavored vodka, Red Bull and regret), but it’s a shot served on ice with a straw. It’s best to drink it as fast as possible so that your entire body doesn’t smell like smoke later (Orio’s is a smoking bar, just a heads up). And make sure you have your ID. On my “birthday” one of us forgot one and we missed this crucial stop on our bar crawl.
This night though, me and my little crew started at The Office. Amazing friend, musician and all around beautiful human, Alex Paul, was playing. He serenaded me with a lovely improvised tune about my beard while I drank what is probably my second favorite shot in Durango: A martini from The Office. I know, a martini isn’t typically a shot, but if you drink it in a gulp or two it definitely counts as a shot, and the martinis at The Office are so good that you can throw them back pretty quickly. Ordering a martini is pretty tricky, but this is how I order mine:
A shaken (as opposed to stirred) Hendrick’s (a type of gin. You can also do vodka).
Dry (dry vermouth or very little vermouth. There is also sweet vermouth, and ordering your martini “perfect,” you get equal parts sweet and dry).
A little dirty (dirty = olive brine).
Served up and neat (in a typical martini glass. You usually don’t have to specify, but you can also order it on the rocks in a tumbler) with an extra olive (or three).
The next stop, especially if it’s your birthday, is Joel’s. And the shot you get on your birthday in Durango is a Muff Diver. It’s basically the opposite of a martini: sugary, sweet and messy. The recipe at Joel’s starts with a cherry in the bottom of a martini glass, then Malibu, followed by anything to give it a pink hue (grenadine, cherry vodka, cranberry, etc.), topped with whipped cream. Pretty simple, but house rules say no hands when doing a Muff Diver, so be prepared for the bartender to be a little rude if you pick up the glass or touch the cherry with anything but lips, teeth or tongue.
At this point in the night, I usually go one of two ways: One last perfect drink to end the night, or all the drinks there are. If I want that last perfect drink, I’ll stop at El Moro and get a whisky on the rocks. El Moro has the best selection of whisky in town with some really great deals on bourbon. I usually go with Eagle Rare, a 7-year-old with a lot of character. But they really have any whisky you could want.
And if I’m still down for anything after that sip of whisky, we end the night where the night always ends (and sometimes where it also starts): The Ranch. Sometimes at The Ranch you can sit at the bar and relax and other times you elbow your way through throngs of Durango amateurs. And unless it’s pint night, the thing I order at The Ranch is a shot and a beer. The shot is usually Fireball, the beer is usually High Life and this is always good night.
Robert Alan Wendeborn puts the bubbles in the beer at Ska Brewing Co. His first book of poetry, The Blank Target, was published this past spring by The Lettered Streets Press and is available at Maria’s Bookshop. [email protected]