After the Belle, we could have called it a night, but I had more of the breweries to try that I wasn’t going to be able to get to before they closed. Instead, we parted ways with the saloon girls and visited the dark and quiet recesses of the Office Spiritorium, a quaint one-room affair that is bedecked with antique western flair, a staircase to more private seating above the bar, and a big stuffed peacock. The bar menu is really an extension of the Belle’s and awkwardly out of place for the ambience. You would expect the Spiritorium to be a shrine to old whiskey and specialty mescals, instead you get a ‘martini’ menu straight out of 1986. So I drank beer like a good Wisconsinite.
The first order (and third brewery sampled) was a Amber Ale from Durango Brewing Company. It is their regular amber, a year-round seller. It pours out clear amber with a rapidly diminishing beach-sand colored head. The Amber Ale is well-balanced; however, it’s a rather one-note version of a beer I love (American Amber), since the caramels were lacking for me in general, but drinkable. I compared it to a second Amber from the fourth brewing Company- Ska Brewing. Their amber, named Pinstripe Red, is not as clear as the Durango’s and more of a golden hint to its color. I thought that its flavor was similar as the Amber Ale, unfortunately, too watered-down and looking for a commercial audience I believe (tourists!). That said, both beers would have been just fine on a hot day, just not something you drove a 1000 miles for. Or maybe Carver’s Old Oak Amber spoiled my red beer drinking palate forever!
After sleeping off my beers and whiskey, it was time to say goodbye to Durango. But before leaving, I stopped across the street from the Strater to the rather chintzy-named Durango Liquor World for a bottle of Colorado something. The something that landed in the cart was Rocky Mountain peach whiskey from Leopold Bros., respected brewers-turned-distillers. Their peach whiskey is made with macerated Colorado Palisade peaches, rested in deep-charred American oak, and hand-bottled to keep its long, dense peach-cobbler-in-cast-iron characteristic finish. The thick tart peach flavor sings through in two and three part cocktail recipes. Here’s one below to transition your spring rains into the summer sunshine-
1 ½ ounces peach whiskey (we used Leopold Bros)
4 ounces ginger beer (we used Rocky Mt. Soda Company)
Juice of half a small lime
Find yourself a copper mule mug and fill with ice. Build all ingredients in the order presented. Stir gently for a handful of revolutions so as not to kill the ginger beer’s carbonation. Drink. I hope it’s hot out!