In my story The Texan’s One-Night Standoff, we first meet Ruby Lopez and Brooks Newport at the C’mon Inn in the small town of Cool Springs, Texas. Ruby catches Brooks’ eye immediately as he sips a drink at the rustic bar, watching her dazzle her opponent with expert billiard skills. When a drunken man approaches her with unwanted and persistent advances, Brooks is off his chair ready to come to her rescue, but the feisty capable woman tosses the guy over her petite shoulders, laying him out flat.
The scene could’ve been written in an old time western saloon as well, where men imbibed far too much whiskey, otherwise known as bottled courage, bug juice, coffin varnish, dynamite, joy juice, neck oil, nose paint and fire water.
The first place that was actually called a saloon, rather than cantina (found mostly in Taos, Santa Fe and New Mexico) was in Brown’s Hole, near the Wyoming, Utah, Colorado border. The saloon, known as Brown’s Saloon was established in 1822 and catered to mostly trappers during the peak of the fur trapping era.
Though in our mind’s eye our image of an old time Western saloon would be set on the main street of town with a wooden sidewalk, hitching post, swinging doors and a shining polished long bar, the first saloons were actually lean-tos or tents where a cowboy, soldier or fur trader could quench his parched throat.
As well in the 1920’s, Bent’s Fort in Colorado was among the earlier saloons catering to soldiers, where others were constructed in Dodge City and Kansas where cowboys would wind up after a long cattle drive. By the time the gold rush hit in California, a settlement housing one cantina, soon entertained 30 saloons. In the early 1880’s the town of Livingston, Montana, population 3,000, had 33 saloons.
In those early days, the whiskey was made up of burnt sugar, raw alcohol with a touch of chewing tobacco. Ugh. There were other concoctions as well and some barkeeps would
cut 100 proof with turpentine, ammonia or cayenne. I can’t imagine! Out West, and as time went on the whiskey became more refined and a shot of bourbon or rye was expected to be downed in one big gulp.
Personally, I am a “frilly drinker”. Give me a strawberry or mango margarita, a pina colada or a Bailey’s coffee and I’m happy. I’ve never enjoyed the benefit of hard liquor, but it’s a booming industry keeping many of our bars and saloons happy in big cities and small towns, like at the fictional C’mon Inn. But surely, we can all agree it’s a place where men and women come together and sometimes, if the stars align and the bubbly sparkles, romance can be found!
Your thoughts? Do you enjoy a drink now and then? Wine, beer, cocktails or the hard stuff? Any fun saloon/bar stories you can tell in public? Ha! Post a comment and one lucky blogger will be picked at random to receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Be sure to check back by the end of the day for the prize winner announcement!
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