DANIEL — The Green River Bar, or GRB as it's known among locals, is a place where real cowboys stop to bend an elbow and swap stories.
Known for its rich history, the slaw dawg, and Lt. Dan's Joker Poker, the GRB is the oldest building in Daniel, Wyoming (pop.106).
Stop by this Sublette County haunt and you're likely to hear the jingle of spurs on the hardwood floor or see a cowboy pull a package of Drum tobacco out of his pocket, hand-roll a cigarette and smoke it.
Everyone is welcome here and they see visitors from all over the world, owner Nan Mckeough said.
"I'm just like the manager here, it's the local people that make it a fun place," she said.
Located on U.S. Highway 189 about two miles south of Daniel Junction, the GRB was originally built as a homestead and general store by Thomas Pixley Daniel, who the town was named for. According to the book "Daniel Wyoming — The first 100 Years," it was built with logs during the fall of 1899 and had a sod roof.
Over the years it's been featured in dozens of newspaper articles, by National Geographic and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), as part of a story on a local dude ranch, shot a segment in the GRB. A Budweiser commercial was also shot there in 1983.
Carved Grizzlies, Heavy Old Mirrors And The Penalty Of Greatness
The front porch is held up by pine burl logs and on the front door is an intricate hand-carved grizzly bear perched on his haunches.
Inside, the Cowboy Channel is normally on TV. The back bar is a nearly 12-foot long mirror that was moved in a horse-drawn wagon from a brothel in Diamondville, Wyoming in 1934. The glass is three-quarters of an inch thick. It took nine men to carry it across the street to be stored when the bar was remodeled in 1981.
Etched on the back of the mirror are the words "St. Louis Glass and Mirror Company, 1869."
From the wood panel walls hang a rich story of Americana that could make an antique collector drool. An old sign shares some insight from W.C Fields: "People scoff at my lavish living and use of alcoholic stimulants. It is the penalty of greatness."
Inside a glass-fronted display case is a finger-jointed wood box that once contained Homer's Ginger and Brandy Compound for Cramps and Flatulency.
When You Say Budweiser …
Although Mckeough said they aren't selling much Budweiser these days, the GRB continues to display the history of the company created through the 1852 partnership of Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch.
One enamel-coated Budweiser sign contains a hint of irony: "We Feature Budweiser, America's Social Companion."
A second Budweiser sign shows two hunters lining up shotguns on a flock of mallards. It states: "Budweiser, Carry on the Tradition."
There's also a photograph of three bearded guys dressed up as 1920s’ flappers and another photo dated 1927 of two cowboys shooting pool. That photo is significant because it shows an antique liquor cabinet that sits behind the bar today.
Slaw Dawg Recipe? Don't Even Ask
One of the GRB's biggest draws is the slaw dawg. You can get a beer and either a beef hot dog or Polish sausage with slaw and sliced jalapeno peppers for $6.50 — a reasonably priced lunch in this part of Wyoming.
"It's not coleslaw, it's slaw, and it's not a dog, it's a dawg," said Georgia native Cathy Rouse, who with her husband Greg owned the GRB for about 10 years prior to selling to Mckeough in 1999.
Putting slaw on sandwiches is a thing in Georgia, Rouse said. This slaw is a frothy mixture of ingredients that provides a cool compliment to a hot dog. The Rouses passed the recipe on to Mckeough when they sold the bar.
A sly grin is the only response from Cathy when pressed for her slaw recipe. She wouldn't even disclose whether a food processor is used to give the slaw its super fine chop and froth.
"If I gave it to you I could never come in here again," she said.
Greg Rouse said he had to get out of the bar business because, "I couldn't take it. I was my own best customer."
When asked about ingredients for the bar's bloody Mary mix, it's another no-go.
Cathy said this recipe was passed to her by Hack and Pat Walker, who owned the GRB from 1976 to 1991. Rumor has it that when Hack Walker remodeled the bar in 1981 he found a trap door in the floor and beneath it was some distilling equipment thought to be left over from the days of Prohibition.
Lt. Dan's Joker Poker
The GRB sells Lt. Dan’s Joker Poker raffle tickets, lots of ‘em, for a buck apiece. Most every Sunday at 4 p.m. the bar fills up. There's a glass case on the wall filled with playing cards inside blank envelopes. After the winning ticket is drawn, the winner gets to select an envelope. If the envelope holds a Joker, the winner gets the pot, less ten percent.
If the envelope holds an ace, the winner gets $50 in bar credit and if any other card is drawn the card becomes part of the display and the pot continues to build until the following Sunday. The pot at the time this story was being written was $3,356.
Every time someone wins Mckeough donates ten percent to a local charitable cause.
"I give it to someone local who is battling cancer or to the old schoolhouse," Mckeough said. "It got up to $15,000 the first time I did it. But now every bar in the county is doing it."
Pop Culture Too
Another layer of the GRB's charisma can be found on the men's room wall. Much of it can't be repeated in this space, but the art includes the Planter's Peanut Man, Yosemite Sam, Wyoming's iconic bucking horse and rider and this insider tidbit: "Drinking and Driving Instructor for hire - call Lonny.”
Passing Along The Tradition
Cathy Rouse worked for Hack and Pat Walker for several months prior to becoming the new owner.
During that time, she learned the business and the customers. Mckeough worked for the Rouses for a couple of years prior to becoming the new owner. Mckeough has owned the GRB for nearly 24 years.
And although she's not ready to give it up yet, the current employees may want to take note of the GRB's many long-held traditions.
John Thompson may be reached at: John@CowboyStateDaily.com