In the 1950s, a local, Donald Hough, wrote a book called The Cocktail Hour in Jackson Hole. The “cocktail hour” his title was referencing wasn’t from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on any given weekend, but instead lasted from mid-September until “March or jail, whichever comes first.” Back then, drinking was pretty much all there was to do in the valley during the off season. Now there’s plenty to do year-round in Jackson Hole, but bars are still important to the area’s social scene. Some of the same watering holes are still around, and have changed little from Mr. Hough’s time. And then there are newer bars that might cause Mr. Hough and his contemporaries to shake their heads in wonder—drinks that include Pop Rocks candy and glow sticks, bars with extensive wine lists, or simply the care and concern that go into a single cocktail. Below, my five favorite bars.
Adjacent to the Pink Garter Theatre, The Rose is popular whether there’s a concert next door or not. Affiliated with Manhattan’s Death + Company, The Rose has chandeliers, booths upholstered in velvet, the most creative mixologists in the valley, and a great menu of bar bites and larger entrees.
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
From the taxidermied bear to the saddles-for-bar-stools and knobbled pine interior, The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is a living piece of Jackson Hole history. During the summer and winter, there is live music—yes, John Mayer once spontaneously sang here—and dancing most nights; free western swing lessons are given on Thursdays at 7 pm.
A great burger (beef is ground in house), one of the best selections of whiskeys in the valley, plus a killer Trivia Night (Monday nights) makes this Town Square spot popular with locals. During its 4-6 Happy Hour, cocktails, wine, and beer are ½ off and the burgers are $8.
Enjoy the full menu of “gourmet comfort cuisine” (the pork adobo is my long-standing favorite) in Rendezvous Bistro’s bar if you can’t snag a reservation for the restaurant. Or just come in to enjoy the huge wine selection: over 150 varietals, including a half-dozen offered nightly by the glass and half-bottle.
Snake River Brewing
Snake River Brewery has twice been named the Small Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Fest. The secret? The food here is every bit as good as the brews. Start with a Zonker Stout and then sample the spicy Thai peanut pasta and the truffle mushroom pizza.