A Little Context, First
When we research the oldest bars, we don’t merely rely upon unsourced, click-bait articles on unreliable websites. No, no, no.. we go deep. After all, when you’re on a Bars & Pars Quest, you don’t travel across the country to only come up short.
Researching the oldest bar in Colorado required that extra bit of digging. Many websites out there claim that the Buffalo Rose in Golden is the oldest bar in Colorado. After all, that bar traces its lineage all the way back to 1859. Pretty impressive.
What is not so impressive is that for most of the intervening years between 1859 and 2017 (when we visited), the Buffalo Rose was not a bar! Among other things, the establishment was a swimming pool, butcher shop, and even a used car market.
Some people are okay with that. The argument is that lots of bars ceased being bars at certain times, including during Prohibition. You cannot just count a place out because it was not a bar for some period of time. The important point is that the bar is in an establishment that dates back the furthest amount of time.
In our opinion, that argument is fine for a time period like the Prohibition. But not for decades.
May we present The Mint Steakhouse in Silverthorne.
Time for a little history lesson.
The Mint Steakhouse traces its lineage all the way back to 1862, when the building was constructed in old Dillon and housed Jack Ryan’s Saloon. The name back then, in itself, is pretty badass.
No doubt scaring potential patrons away based on its name, the Saloon changed its name to The Mint sometime in the 1880s.
The Mint enjoyed its time in Dillon all the way up through 1961. Sure, there were some hard times. During the Great Depression the town was so poor that the Denver Water Board came in and helped out the town by buying up most of the property and freeing residents of their tax burdens.
But there is no such thing as a free lunch, Dillon found out, when the Denver Water Board revealed its sinister, ulterior motives in the late 1950s by requiring everyone to move out and relocate. The Denver Water Board had decided to wipe Dillon off the map by damming the Blue River and flooding the area with some 85 billion gallons of water.
Being one of the oldest buildings and establishments in town, The Mint was moved to its current location in Silverthorne in 1961.
The Highest Oldest Bar in America
The Mint is probably the highest oldest bar in America. And we don’t say that merely because it is located in Colorado where they enjoy certain relaxing activities.. legally.
No, Silverthorne stands at an elevation of over 9,000 feet smack dab in the middle of the Rockies. To get there from Denver, you traverse a pass at an elevation of over 11,000 feet! That’s not a mile high, but two!
The Mint Steakhouse is also unique.
Yes, that’s a “Butcher Shop” inside The Mint Steakhouse. You literally walk up to the meat case and pick out the piece of meat that you want to eat. Steaks, chicken, seafood. It is all there.
There’s only one catch…
You gotta cook it yourself.
Yes, Jack Ryan’s The Mint Steakhouse has no time to cook your dinner for you. He (and his lineage) have better things to do.
But it is sort of fun in its own way. Slap that steak on the grill and get in touch with your inner caveman. And if you somehow are unfamiliar with how to cook on the grill, The Mint Steakhouse provides a convenient, helpful “Cooking Times” plaque to get you on your way.
Final Thoughts on The Mint Steakhouse
The Mint Steakhouse is everything you could hope for it to be and more. Just over an hour drive from Denver, you get to traverse the Rockies and visit a small town at over 9,000 feet.
The Mint is housed in its original building, that dates back to 1862, and you can feel the history. And to top it off, you can have a perfectly cooked steak along with your whiskey.
Need we say more?
Don’t worry, we visited the Buffalo Rose as well.
Just in case you aren’t convinced about our selection of The Mint Steakhouse, we took it upon ourselves to visit the Buffalo Rose in Golden.
After all, it’s located merely a stone’s throw away from both our golf course choice – Fossil Trace – and the Coors distillery.
The Buffalo Rose seems like a popular gathering place.
On the day we were there it was perfect out. There were a few regulars at the bar itself. But the back patio (that includes an outdoor bar) was where it was at.
We walked through the establishment. Inside one of the main rooms was the area where the swimming pool’s foundation still lies.
But it’s a fun little place nonetheless.
We, of course, had a couple Coors Lights and read up on the history of the Buffalo Rose. And now you can too.