alcoholic beverage


Local Flavor with The Bookcase & Barber

he business, located at 601 East Second Ave., Suite B, presents itself to the world as a barbershop. But, if you have the secret password and you are looking to enjoy a fabulous cocktail, you can enter the prohibition-themed bar known as the Bookcase and Barber through a false door disguised as a bookcase.

Beau and Jenna Black are both Colorado natives who met and worked at Ken and Sues, a longtime local restaurant in Durango. Beau grew up in Bayfield, Colorado, and has a background in Culinary Arts. Jenna graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2004 and later earned her nursing degree. After several years of working together in the local restaurant scene, Beau and Jenna formed a dream of creating a space where locals and visitors can gather to create memories, much like the ones they shared at Ken and Sues.

Their idea of opening a speakeasy in Durango came about after attending a dinner with guests from Williams & Graham, a famous speakeasy in Denver. They knew they needed to start small to keep the business manageable.

While looking for a space, their realtor happened upon a local bookstore. When Beau entered, the owner jokingly commented, “are you here to buy this place?” They visited a couple of times after that before finally signing the lease. Beau and Jenna shared the history behind the old bookstore. The space used to be Turner’s Automotive in the 1930s, home to O’Farrell hat company at one point, and then in 1981, it became the bookstore. “That’s how the name of the bar originated.” We wanted the name and history of the space to live on in another aspect,” Beau said.

“We wanted the name and history of the space to live on in another aspect”

The barbershop came about because you can’t have a secret bar without running a respectable business out front. The business opened before the bar with three local barbers on staff. Barbers at the business rent chairs from the Blacks, and they have proven so popular; appointments are encouraged.

In 2015, the 34-year-old bookstore transformed into Durango’s Speakeasy. Jenna shared the excitement held by the community on their opening day. “It was standing room only, and we had a line around the block.” It wasn’t until later that she had realized the opening date of December 5th, 2015, shared the historical date the prohibition ended, on December 5th, 1933.

full bar

I asked Beau and Jenna, What does it mean to own a business in Durango?

Jenna said, “It’s so special. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s happening. We are so lucky! Beau added by saying, “We love that we get to add to the lure of Durango and to provide something people can enjoy whether they are living here, a local, or visiting. I think it’s really special to be part of that. We see thousands of faces come through here a year, and to have those families or the people who have been coming since day one, and seeing them every time they come through, that’s really special for us.”

“It was standing room only, and a line around the block.”

The Bookcase and Barber are getting ready to celebrate six years in business! “We have just been supported the whole time. We are in publications with the train and Mesa Verde, and the bar has become a must-see place. We didn’t expect that,” Jenna said.

Beau said, “That’s the Durango way. We have had support from day one from other bars, business owners, other people in this industry, and through the business, we have also been able to give back and be more connected to the community.” Jenna explained that when they first opened, they stored their fruit and ice next door at the Ore House, another popular restaurant and local favorite in Durango. “It’s nice having that kind of support from other restaurants in the industry.”

It’s not just the atmosphere that Jenna and Beau have created that makes the bar a special place to visit; it’s also their delicious cocktails! Beau tapped into his sous and executive chef experience to create uniquely designed and exceptionally tasty cocktails.

You can order a classic cocktail off of their menu section known as the Authors. These are simple and amazing! For example, Thompson “Old Fashioned” or a Fitzgerald “Gin Rickey.”

“Each bartender has their own taste, and their personalities come out in the cocktails.”

Beau said, “With the diversity of those cocktails, we can usually find something for each person.”

The “Story” section of the menu is where you can take your taste buds on an exciting journey. Four times a year, Beau and his team of exceptionally talented bartenders, or should I say “mixologists,” come out with new cocktails. Beau said, “It’s a group effort with all of the bartenders, and they work on refining each dink over a month-long process. Each bartender has their own taste, and their personalities come out in the cocktails. So it’s a great process, and it really speaks to the talents of each bartender.”

man and woman dressed with clothes from the prohibition era
two people on a hike with their dog
man giving child a haircut

I was excited to try one of the fall favorites called “I am Jazz.” The ingredients are as follows:

Novo Fogo Cachaça Laird’s Jersey Lightning House Apple Butter Cocchi Americano Fresh Lime Simple. The apples in the apple butter are gleaned from Durango. It tasted like a crisp autumn day in a glass!

If you are visiting Durango you should experience this flawlessly designed, fun, and historical place created by locals and loved by everyone. Beau and Jenna saved some of the books from the original Bookcase, and if you are lucky enough to share the last call, the bartender will read from an old Irish book full of Limericks. It has been a tradition for every night of business for the previous six years. The Bookcase and Barber showcase Durango’s local talent while transporting you to another time.