Terra Sigillata

If you’ve been to Aspen, Colorado, for a scientific conference you have no doubt made the bike ride down valley to the venerable Woody Creek Tavern for margaritas and such. (The ride back to town is a wee bit more challenging, by the way.) The Aspen Times now reports that the Tavern is up for sale:

The Woody Creek Tavern is located along Upper River Road, adjacent to the Woody Creek Trailer Park. It has been a local hangout for about 27 years. It also has provided liquid refreshment, food, gossip and political cover to many diverse and famous personalities, including the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, movie and television star Don Johnson, and singer/songwriter Jimmy Ibbotson of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame.

Famed Coloradan George Stranahan has owned the collective building site in the past and is being urged by some to buy it again. Says Stranahan,

“I’ve bought it twice, and that’s enough,” he said. “I’m 75. I can’t shake a martini, for Christ’s sake.”


Stranahan is also well-known outside of Colorado as the founder and primary force behind Flying Dog ales, noted for their labels designed by artist, Ralph Steadman, another person linked inextricably to the late Hunter S. Thompson. One of my favorite offerings has been their Gonzo Imperial Porter, brewed to commemorate the blasting of the good doctor’s ashes into the Rocky Mountain high.

Perhaps Stranahan can’t shake a martini but he’s been busy with his own distillery producing Colorado “micro whiskey.” And by the way, Stranahan is a PhD physicist who founded the Aspen Center for Physics.

But back to the Woody Creek Tavern. Only Jon Colson in the Aspen Times reported on its place in the history of international politics:

A significant moment in the spotlight for the Tavern came when former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush came to the area in 1990 for a summit hosted by the Aspen Institute. The pair stayed at the Woody Creek home of then-ambassador to United Kingdom James Henry Catto and reportedly ate Tavern takeout to keep their strength up. The meeting was broken up by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, which led to the first Gulf War.

Do you have any good Tavern stories of your own?