by Tracy Block
Fresh off the slopes, nestled between the American Eagle and American Flyers lifts, sits Downhill Duke’s. The elevated al fresco haunt is Copper Mountain’s dog-friendly haven, and is enjoying its first, official ski season (the outpost officially opened last summer). Whether you’re a local or a visitor, if you have your doggo in tow, take a load off at Duke’s, where your furry friend is even invited to join you up on a bar stool. Named for his legendary Rocky Mountain status, Duke is the poster pup for after-hours fun after your last Copper run.
The hang’s signature anthem, fittingly, is “Who Let the Dogs Out?” which plays at 2 p.m. daily, signaling the launch of Yappy Hour, and then again at 4:45 p.m. to announce last call. “We have carved out this atmosphere here,” says manager Chris Progar. “It’s a dog-friendly ski bum dive bar. It’s always a party, and all outdoors,” he says. While snow can pile up on the bar due to the open-roof structure – up to 6 inches high, to be exact, following a recent storm, there are heating lamps and fire pits to keep visitors and canines cozy, when necessary. As for your dog, “Anything pretty much goes,” says Progar, who recalls a recent party with 50 dogs, a plethora of treats, toy giveaways and dogs “running around everywhere.” While dog bones will run you $1 each, water, snow, extra pets and naps are on the house!
When it comes to the human grub, fan favorites start with the Mile High nachos, which include a mountain of just-fried corn tortilla chips, covered in beans, pueblo chili queso, tomatoes, cotija and cheddar-jack cheeses, avocado cilantro sauce and roasted tomato salsa. Additionally, Progar’s pick is the BLTA flatbread salad, a mix of greens, cheese and pecanwood smoked bacon severed up with garlic-mozzarella, wood-fired flatbread. Burger lovers can get their fix with the hearty Best in Show burger, featuring a 7-oz. Boulder Valley Colorado natural angus beef patty, bacon, American cheese and Thousand Island dressing between toasted brioche. For dessert fans, Duke’s cookie jar houses a handful of variations, from lemon poppy to chocolate, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodle to standard sugar.
If you’re ready for an après toast, try the namesake Duke’s Treat Boulder Wheat from Boulder Beer. For wine snobs, Duke’s has your comforting pour covered with a glass of glogg, mulled red wine with a hit of brandy. Other warming sips include the Pat Down, with peppermint schnapps and hot cocoa, and the Drop It Hot Toddy, a mix of Jim Beam, honey, hot water, lemon and cloves. Still, there’s a list of margs and mules to be had, and whimsical dog-themed drinks are aplenty. Bookmark: Bone-in Bloody Mary, Yellow Snow and Salty Dog, just to name a few more. If you’re on the fence about what to do with Fido at the base, Chris and his gang are ready to welcome your dog – and you – with open arms. “When I get done from mud season and I come back to Copper, I’m going to get a dog and bring him here every day,” shares Progar.