Downhill slope: Woody Creek Tavern

I'm halfway through my tamales when the blue agave begins to take hold.

I'm at the Woody Creek Tavern with old friend Mike D, hitting Aspen Snowmass with Breck duds and wallets. But it's nothing a couple of the joint's legendarily strong blue agave margaritas won't solve.

Fortunately and unfortunately, they're $8.50 a pop.

Conveniently located in a trailer park and plastered with all manner of mildly psychedelic ephemera and bric-a-brac, Hunter S. Thompson's old hangout hasn't changed discernibly since it changed hands a few years ago. The tamales are still spicy, the vibe is still oddball, and credit cards are still not accepted. It's the first visit to Woody Creek for my cohort, and he's impressed. Or maybe that's just the margs talking.

Tucked in a booth adorned by a big cougar painting -- the wild kind -- and faux leopard-skin upholstery, we discuss crashing a hoity-toity Aspen charity party we saw at the hotel bar. "You've got to walk in like you own the place," I advise. Mike seems unconvinced.

Then we admire the Polaroids of James Belushi and the hand-drawn mermaid on the wall and talk about the pros and cons of mushrooms, Led Zeppelin, and old times in the Tri-Lakes area. We finish our drinks, a few locals and tourists stumble in for dinner, and the good doctor looks on.

Woody Creek Tavern, Upper River Rd., Woody Creek, 970-923-4585, www.woodycreektavern.com.

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