I always pictured John Wayne as a whiskey-straight-up kind of guy. But the Duke must have downed at least one margarita in his 72 years, because the sign hanging over the long wooden bar at the Minturn Saloon -- which boasts the Minturn Mountain Margarita as its house cocktail -- states, "If John Wayne didn't drink it, we don't make it." So on a recent after-work outing (okay, okay, it was almost 4 p.m.), I followed Wayne's lead and downed several frothy Minturn Mountain Margaritas ($4.50), made with Agave gold tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, sweet and sour mix and a secret ingredient, and served on the rocks with salt. The original Minturn Saloon, which began dispensing booze in 1901 to what would become the Vail Valley, has been serving margs and Mexican food to the après-ski crowd under its current ownership since 1976. Last month, those owners opened a Mile High outpost in the space that had been home to the Parlour (twice) and Basil Ristorante, drawing urban cowboys with a daily happy hour -- 3:30 to 6 p.m. -- when the strong margs go for only $2.50. As Wayne reportedly once said, "I never trust a man that doesn't drink." Damn straight.
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