Back story: What’s behind Aspen’s historic bars |

Back story: What’s behind Aspen’s historic bars

M. John FayheePhotos by Mark Fox

Many of us who frequent bars have spent countless hours looking at them, but precious little time seeing them. (And yes, some sort of “can’t see the forest for the trees” analogy seems appropriate.) These are the back bars, the part of every watering hole where hard liquor is stored, where the term “top shelf,” which has entered the popular lexicon, comes from.I have long been fascinated by all manner of back bars, from the extremely ornate and obviously historic to those whose main purpose is as a repository for the stories that all good bars have. For back bars are not limited to pure utilitarianism. They are often decorative place-holders of tavern memorabilia of all stripes: softball team trophies, pictures of the bar’s anniversary party, imbibery-based bric-a-brac that spans and connects generations.Most back bars worth pondering in any context grander than liquor storage also have stories, or at least back stories, and those stories are worth telling. Here we visit five of Aspen’s most noteworthy, and maybe even notorious, back bars.

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