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Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Mint Cafe

I've been a little frantic getting ready for the upcoming Grass Valley Old West Show.

Grass Valley is a long way away, not really looking forward to the drive.

About ten hours.

 Usually takes me a day and a half to set up, I get three hours at this one.

Going to have to try to throw it together. Might not even put paper or lights up.

I will give it my best shot, as always. Been spending money like a fool, need to get some back in the coffers.

I drove to Los Angeles the other day to pick up silver I bought from auction, paintings, western items for Grass Valley and make a couple more stops. Spent eleven hours or so driving, hit all the nice L.A. traffic. 

But I think it will be worth it.

One of the cool items I picked up was this menu from Juarez, from the Mint Cafe. 

I believe that it dates from the 1920's. 

The Mint was a rather celebrated and notorious saloon and eating establishment, second perhaps to only the Tivoli.

I found a 1929 photo of it online.

Harry Mitchell was apparently the proprietor, along with a man named E. Fernandez. "Home of the special fizz."

The reason that I find this fascinating is that I lived near Juarez from 1963 to the beginning of 1969, both in Las Cruces and El Paso.

While I don't remember the Mint, which was no longer around, my family used to frequent an establishment called the Alcazar in Juarez for special occasions and it was perhaps the coolest bar I have ever been in. 

I was just a kid but my memories are vivid.

Wine poured out of bota bags and through the air on to spoons in your mouth from six feet away, filet mignons wrapped in bacon, the place was off the charts. Beyond festive.

And it was cheap. 

Here is a look at the menu, from about the time we were there.

Also take a look at the menu for the Mint.

Hare, not just duck but also mallard duck, goose liver, black bass (totauva), sand dabs (in Chihuahua?), Lobster Newburg, tongue, eggs scrambled in brains, caviar. The place must have been incredible. In fact, I don't know a restaurant in America today that could rival this menu for sheer variety.

How did they source all this food? I was interested to see jelly omelets on the menu, my dad made them for us when we were kids.

And look at the Whiskeys and Sherrys. Amazing. All highballs made with imported ginger ale. My kind of place.

I did a little more research. Places like the Mint flourished when Texas banned alcohol in 1918 and the bars moved to Mexico. Good article here.
High rollers in fancy clothes sashay between several elegant gambling spots and smart restaurants.

Las Vegas? No.

The scene is Juárez during the “Golden Era” of the 1920s.

Waiters in their net white jackets and black bow ties knew exactly how many inches a linen tablecloth should drape above the floor.

Bartenders rarely served lowly beer. They made lavish mixed drinks for high-class patrons who savored the taste and aroma of the liquor.

Harry Mitchell
After prohibition ended in 1933 Mitchell moved back to El Paso and opened a brewery, his golden vaca now completely milked.
I don't wax nostalgically too much for my time in El Paso, but these places in Juarez were pretty cool. 

1 comment:

Liz said...

I miss El Paso a lot. I also miss las cruces. We never went back there because mom was freaked out about a miscarriage. The hospital in las cruces was not as good as the hospitals in El Paso. I also miss the sisters of loretto. Such marvelous people and a fantastic school