Summit County saloons: A long tradition of food and drink |

Summit County saloons: A long tradition of food and drink

by Sandra Mather
Summit Historical Society
Located on the southeast corner of Lincoln and Main in Breckenridge after the turn of the century, Weaver Brothers Saloon was one of many in town. Advertising for the saloon noted that the drinks were “seductive but seldom intoxicating.” Note the ornate ceiling lights, the mirror cigar advertisement and the large mirror behind the bar. The clock showing U.S. Observatory time was updated hourly by Western Union Telegraph.
Photo: Special to the Weekender |

In an effort to draw customers, saloons advertised widely. Ads in the newspaper touted fresh beer and lots of it from companies such as Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) and Golden (Coors). Patrons purchased bottled and draft beer, as well as wine, cocktails and other mixed drinks.

Perhaps the most famous of those mixed drinks was Cherry Bounce, sold by John Dewers at the Corner Saloon, on the northwest corner of Lincoln and Main streets in Breckenridge. Twelve pounds of mashed sweet cherries were mixed with nine cups of brown sugar and two gallons of rye whiskey, bottled and aged for nine months. Although it could be served at that point, it was even better after as much as five years of aging.

Saloonkeepers soon added food to draw customers. They served lots of salty foods requiring more drinks; sardines and real oysters were staples. Spencer’s Saloon advertised a menu that included “oysters in all styles, turkey, ham, Sweitzer Kase (cheese) and Limburger sandwiches, Vienna boiled sausage, hot coffee, tea and chocolate. These dishes served day or night at a lunch counter or tables, as preferred.”

Joe Reeder’s Palace Saloon offered “Sweitzer and Limburger cheese” to accompany ham sandwiches. Thomas Boylan, on Christmas Day in 1881, offered free food: “A grand free Christmas dinner will be set on Christmas Day. All and everybody invited to come and partake Freely.” Jerry Krigbaum, of Dyersville, southeast of Breckenridge, on Dec. 23, 1881, took a two-horse sleigh to Breckenridge to load supplies for a Christmas party. Among the turkey, cranberries, oysters and other food was a 10-gallon keg of “corn juice.” He invited visitors to his saloon to sample spirituous liquor that would make “quail look as large as turkeys and turkeys as large as condors.” At the Denver Saloon, George Hammerschlag offered “Limberger and Switzer cheese, Holland herring and anchovies, served either to individuals or families at the lowest possible rates.”

But nothing matched the menu offered by the Grand Central Hotel, located on the west side of Ridge Street, between Lincoln and Washington. Advertised as the “most comfortable quarters to be found in the mountains,” the hotel, under the management of a Mrs. Dananhower, offered this Sunday dinner menu on February 12, 1883:

SOUP: Occidental

BOILED MEATS: Corn Beef and Cabbage, Tongue, Ham, Leg of Mutton with Caper Sauce

ROAST: Beef, Veal with Dressing, Mutton, Venison, Antelope, Pork with Brown Sauce, Turkey with Cranberry Sauce

ENTREES: Turkey Wing in Yankee Style, Turkey Giblets a la fine Sere, Biscuit of Lamb a la Jardiniere, Pickle of Tongue a la Doxon, Ox Heart a la Doffoh, Calf Heart English Dressing, Sehales Peaches in New England Style, Oyster Suppand

VEGETABLES: Boston Brown Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Boiled Potatoes, Canned Corn, Canned Peas, Turnips

PASTRY: Green Gage Pie, Lemon Cake, Plain Pound Cake, Jelly Roll Cake, Congress Pudding with Brandy Sauce, Cheese

No one left hungry. Sadly, the fire that started in Finding’s Hardware Store in December of 1884 destroyed the Grand Central Hotel and all the other buildings in the block.

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