To find the oldest bar in Idaho, Bruce and I ventured to the peaceful lake town of Spirit Lake with my parents in tow. Established in 1907, the White Horse Saloon is older than the town itself. The bar also sports hotel rooms above the bar, where we had reserved some rooms ahead of time. Walking past the row of motorcycles on the street and into the bar, we noticed that jailhouse iron-bar doors separated the bar area from the hotel lobby. It was a little disconcerting, but our bartender Dolly quickly put us at ease. She explained that the bar doors were simply meant to keep hotel guests from helping themselves in the bar after hours, rather than protecting hotel patrons from unruly patrons. Further helping us to relax was the drink, “Spirit Lake Splash” which my mom and I playfully named because I had asked Dolly what drinks she can make out of the grapefruit vodka I had eyed behind the counter. A little Triple X passion fruit liquor and a splash of soda went down very easy indeed!
After a few drinks and delightful conversation the four of us hit up a local pizzeria for dinner and then decided to explore the town on foot. We took a walk down to the beautiful lake which was once called “clear water” by the Kootenay Indians who once lived there. On the walk back we stopped at a unique little pottery shop just a few doors down from the saloon. The pottery shop had beautiful custom-made pieces for sale, but what really surprised us was its honor system method of payment. My parents decided to buy a few items and dutifully slid their cash payment through a slot in the wall which was dedicated for that purpose. Before we left, we did have the opportunity to meet the owner who came out to say hello. He said his father was the artist and that they had never had items stolen from the store. The honor system still worked in this picturesque little town. We ended our day back at the Whitehorse where Bad Bob honored us with a gift for Bruce, a genuine Spirit Lake crystal from his own collection, topping off another unique oldest bar experience.