Shandelle Battersby meets a mule — and some Trump fans — in Whiskey Row.
The most famous street in the Arizona city of Prescott these days barely resembles the avenue of disrepute it was in the late 1800s, when it was lined with saloons, gambling houses and hotels.
Sth Montezuma St, better known as Whiskey Row, thrived during the goldrush, when the town was alive with prospectors, gamblers, cowboys, outlaws and "bawdy girls", until a fire destroyed much of it in July 1900. It was quickly rebuilt, and you can still enjoy a drink at some of its most famous locations, though it'll cost you a lot more than the 12.5c it once did.
We dropped in for a refreshing beverage on a sweltering July afternoon at The Palace, Arizona's oldest frontier saloon, which has been "pleasing customers since 1877" and was up and running following the fire as early as 1901.
The original carved bar, still used today, was saved by patrons of the era, who included Wyatt and Virgil Earp, and Doc Holliday, of OK Corral fame, who carried it to safety.
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The Palace was more than a pub — this is where notices of work were posted, where mineral claims were bought and sold, and where political business was carried out.
We left the bright sunshine, entered its darkness via swinging saloon doors, and found ourselves transported back in time — then brought back to reality by the woman next to us at the bar who was complaining about internet dating. A cowboy, complete with a guitar and harmonica on a neck attachment, crooned in the corner. The staff wore ye olde clothes — corsets and full skirts.
Taxidermy and historic photographs lined the walls. Best of all were the beer taps — a pistol, a cowboy — but we ordered girly cocktails at US$8 a pop — miner's mules (vodka, ginger beer and lime juice, served in tin cups) but we could have had a Doc Holliday (rum, blue curacao, lemonade and pineapple juice); a scorpion's tail (rum, creme de banana, pineapple and cranberry juice); or a rye whiskey drink. We were pleased with our choice. It was delicious.
A sign out the front advertised the 11th annual Whiskey Row Shootout and the National Day of the Cowboy over the next two days, so we hauled ass back to the Row before things got too hot. Even at 9am the sun was intense. An outfit called the Prescott Regulators and their self-appointed Shady Ladies and assorted cohorts were staging re-enactments, stunts, a parade and equestrian tricks as well as a gunfight. There was a portable shootout game with animatronic hosts.
We were yelled at for walking during the national anthem, bought drinks in plastic red cowboy boots, then spent the next two hours gaping - first at all the locals dressed up in full historic garb for the costume competition, then at those who weren't but who were dressed in pro-Trump garb.
America is a strange land.