On one visit to downtown St. Joseph, Missouri, quite by accident, I found myself at The Tiger’s Den. The dinner restaurant we chose was inconveniently closed. We landed at The Tiger’s Den to regroup. The Tiger’s Den is a speak easy inspired, reading room, complete with bookshelves, a large collection of used books, easy chairs, and sometimes entertainment. Filled with a cheery, eclectic group you will feel right at home. The entry has a ramp for easy access. Pull up a chair and table, grab a good book off the shelf, or sit at the small cozy bar. By all means order a “cool drink”.
By cool, I don’t just mean temperature. If alcohol is your game, The Tiger’s Den serves up some decadent, delightful, speak easy prohibitive fare. On my first visit to this St. Joe oasis, my companions ordered up some serious drink! The Tiger’s Den version of the infamous Moscow Mule arrives presented in all its shinning glory complete with the traditional copper mug that is used in most up-scale establishments. Brimming with vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice it can pack a good punch I’ve been told. My friend was delighted all evening. I, not being a serious alcohol drinker, opted for a glass of red wine which makes my slow sexy walk even slower but all the more less painful. Comfortably seated at the bar, the place was getting busy. A gentleman entered asking the two young women beside me if he could occupy the empty seat between us. Hospitably, they agreed. He took the bar stool and rested his cane. Well, the cane created an immediate sense of camaraderie. Feeling frisky, I commented, “Well, you didn’t ask me!”. This broke ice, that perhaps, never existed (I’m good at creating artificial constructs), but conversational ease was established. In this hospitable space, grown from the sultry memories of a speak easy, the gentleman ordered a beer with a Scotch chaser. His request constituted serious after-work relaxation in my book! Sitting in silence for a while, I noted, out loud, that there was the most beautiful scent in the air. Breathing in the earthy smell, I couldn’t place from where it came. Musky, smokey, I studiously inhaled this velvety smooth perfume. He waved the pot-bellied shot glass scotch drinkers call a “dram” across the space between us. “Maybe, it’s the Scotch?”, he said. Oh my! He had me in the first wave. This rich, seductive perfume curled in the air. He explained that this exquisite amber liquid results from a process that is redolent of peat moss and smoke. The ancient Scottish distillery, Ardbeg, employs an age-old method. The local Scottish water, salt from the proximity to the sea, ex-Bourbon oak casks in the Ardbeg distillery creates a remarkable product. If you are interested, read about the incredibly detailed process over two hundred years in the making and still going strong at http://www.ardbeg.com. On the small, remote Scottish island of, Islay, Ardbeg has a B&B in which one could stay. I can feel the tug of the Continent now!
A short conversation ensues. I once traveled in Scotland following tipsy Scotch distillery revelers as they weaved their way through the Scottish Highlands dotted with multiple distillery sites for tourists. I am totally intrigued while beginning to reflect on how unusual it is to find a like-minded traveler. Michael Herrington, is a local chef, actually, a connoisseur of charcuterie. In other words, a chef who devotes themselves to cooking prepared meat products, sausages, bacon, ham, terrines, mostly pork. He has made multiple trips to Scotland to research his family history. Visiting castle ruins, soaking up Scottish lore and culture he has fed his love of family, food and drink. Committed to seeing a downtown revival in St. Joe he hopes to open an establishment of his own someday. With the theme song to Rod Sterling’s Twilight Zone slowly becoming louder in my mind, suddenly, we make a connection to a Kansas City restaurant in Westport. Do I know, who?…Yes, my good friend and Kansas City Mardi Gras Crewe member was married to him…What?!!!! Brenda Herrington is your sister!!!! I am now sufficiently, blown off the planet, while seated at the cozy bar in The Tiger’s Den. I leave in a complete fog like I am walking off the TV set as the Twilight Zone closes its episode on a comfy Friday night.
Back to business here.
I seriously want you to consider visiting downtown St. Joe. A revival of a once beautiful downtown seems to be afoot. Bumping into interesting people like the owners of The Tiger’s Den, talented bartenders (even if you are choosing an ice tea) and a fascinating character like Michael Herrington at The Tiger’s Den is seriously stimulating. The Tiger’s Den is a genuinely interesting place without taking a book off the generously stocked shelves. Check it out and…