Bars where Pete has had a Drink (5,835 bars; 1,754 bars in Seattle) - Click titles below for Lists:

Bars where Pete has had a drink

Saturday, May 08, 2021

#3552 - Silver Dollar Saloon, Virginia City, NV - 6/29/2018

John, bartender
Silver Dollar Saloon, Virginia City

If you like old western bars like we do then there's probably not a better town in the world for these than Virginia City, Nevada. And while there are several much more famous joints along C Street, our favorite was down the narrow stairway to the relatively humble Silver Dollar Saloon. 

Often referred to as the "most authentic," which I believe means least touristy, the Silver Dollar doesn't have a deep history posted on the outside or detailed on internet sites. I don't know how long it's been there, or what the history of the building entails, although it is cited as the first location of the "Territorial Enterprise" newspaper until it moved in 1862, just before Sam Clements joined the staff and started writing under the name Mark Twain. But even that I'm not sure of, because the Silver Dollar is so often confused with the "Silver Queen" Saloon (which has a famous painting with a woman's dress made of 3,261 silver dollar coins).

Entering the Silver Dollar the first thing you notice is the bras -- hanging several layers deep on a line hung overhead, hanging from the lamps, pinned to the walls. The next thing you notice is the backgroud -- dollar bills tacked up on virtually every inch of wall and ceiling space by past visitors. And finally you notice the bartender, a long-bearded, cigarette smoking character known as "Hippy John." Later on at another saloon we were told stories by a couple ladies that said they came in, found John sleeping, fixed themselves drinks, then later woke him to pay. (John did not appreciate this story when we relayed it to him.)

The bras and dollars hint at much fuller rooms and wilder times than the bar we entered. On our first visited we chatted with patrons Bryan and Brenda. One the second visit we sat around the corner of the bar from a drunk guy in a cowboy hat, who looked more like a salesman than a rancher, and a much drunker military guy. Cowboy Hat Guy was working diligently trying to repair a pair of sunglasses. He first explained his resoluteness by noting "I'm a Capricorn." Later he continued, "I'm a Ranger. Rangers never quit." As he worked, Military Guy kept getting angrier. Cowboy Hat Guy say not to worry, "I'll fix him after I fix this." Cowboy Hat Guy told stories, telling us about bull riding and Harleys, and that he had a million dollars in the bank and was renting all of the Virginia Inn for a week. When he finally left after a lot of high fiving people who selected country music he liked on the juke box, bartender John told us how much he was not looking forward to having Cowboy Hat Guy in town all week.

Trista with patrons Bryan and Brenda
Silver Dollar Saloon, Virginia City, NV
Anyway, while it wasn't crowded we seemed to get a good cross section of the Silver Dollar patrons -- sometimes mellow like Bryan and Brenda, and sometimes not, like a cluster of drunk ladies who hunted the best place to pin their dollars, or like Military Guy and Cowboy Hat Guy. It's part of the fun, even if they test poor John's patience. As for drinks, you don't want to order anything too fancy -- it's a pure dive bar that way. But for all the deeper histories, memorable artifacts, live bands, and better food and drinks in a town full of great bars, this one remained our favorite.

Painting of Virginia City locals, 
bartender John in the middle

11 North C, Virginia City, NV 89440 - (775) 847-0458
Reviews: yelp - tripadvisor - dirt cheap (video) - restaurantguru - untappd  

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