Sunday, September 8, 2019

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: A Gold Country Pub Crawl

We had some visitors recently and Tim and I had slowly been working on a new pub crawl in Ione, California, so this seemed like a good time to finish it off.

Ione is in the Motherlode region of the state, in Amador County, but has never been a gold mining town. Instead, early settlers of this town (founded in 1848) realized that their path to riches was in selling supplies to the miners instead.

Many parts of the town are supposedly haunted, especially the imposing Preston Castle...a former juvenile detention center looming on a hill over the town...but we're here searching for another kind of spirit.

There are five places to drink in this down...six if you count the Mexican restaurant where you can get beer and wine to to with your food...and we'll be hitting four of them. The fifth is a little over a mile away at the clubhouse of the local golf course. It's a little far, at just over a mile away, for walking. The rest are all in a two block stretch of Main Street.

Our first stop might be a better place to end up but, since they close early at 5pm, we're going there first. Mane Street Tack Shop might seem like an unusual place to start a pub crawl. Heck, it is an unusual spot.

Here, in a store full of saddles, bridles, ropes, boots, chaps, and more equipment for the equine, you'd hardly look for a spot for drinking. Don, the owner, has other ideas, though.

A contractor in addition to tack shop owner, Don took some unused space in the back of the store and built himself a little party space. Through swinging saloon doors, you'll enter what looks like the inside of a covered wagon, with a bar on the right, a few tables to the left, and a TV showing old westerns nonstop in the back.

Instead of bar stools, there are saddles to sit on.  A few feet at the end of the bar has a lowered counter for the wheelchairs.

Luckily for us, Don decided to share his hangout with the world and is open to the public on weekends.

In addition to being yet another Amador County wine tasting counter, you can buy a variety of wines and beers by the glass and hang out with Don while he regales you with modern cowboy stories.

Having whet our whistles, we cross over to the other side of Main Street and head to the town's only functioning hotel, the Ione Hotel.  In the lobby, the Burke Family Restaurant operates a saloon on the other side of the lobby from the dining room.

It's a bit warm as the air conditioner isn't up to completely cooling this space today. We have some wine and cold beer while Jerry Lewis, a retired Los Angeles Police officer plays as the bars musical entertainment for the day.

Moving on, we go back across the street to Tilly's Club, the city's dive bar. We love a good dive bar, especially up here in Gold Country, and Tilly's is a fine example. It's a few shots of tequila to go with some pints of 805 ale while we also load up on the free popcorn.

Gypsy, a friendly pit bull belonging to one of the other bar flies, comes over to hang out with us.

We're finishing up at the Ione Public House. Actually, it's the coffee corner which has become the temporary home of the pub while the actual pub is renovated and a brewery is added. Brothers Jeff and Mike Bligh also own this coffee house, along with the pub, so they've built a bar here and moved the taps for the duration.

It doesn't quite have the character of the pub but the beer's still cold and you have the added benefit of having pastries from the coffee shop available (pic at top of post).

It's been a fun crawl and now we have to crawl back home where we'll spend the rest of the evening sitting on the porch talking shit about each other...literally (you had to have been there). Fun times.

Darryl Musick
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