As National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum organizers considered ways to appeal to millennials, they were pleasantly surprised to discover their allure for one of the old American West’s most storied institutions: the saloon.
The museum debuted its Saloon Series, a fun and informative whiskey tour and live music event last week. It continues 5:30-7:30 p.m. each Thursday through July.
Each two-hour session happens inside Silver Dollar Saloon in Prosperity Junction, the museum’s 19th-century, to-scale cattle town replica.
For $25, guests receive a whiskey flight with at least three pours, a full drink ticket for the bar, a plate of food, extended-hour museum admission and a whiskey class based on the night’s theme. The series also features music by popular local performers.
Food and live entertainment were Old West saloon staples. Museum chief public experience officer Inez Wolins said the series sticks close to what made the historic saloon so beloved and adds a few modern twists.
“We wanted to make it so that it could be fun and educational and social,” Wolins said, “which is what museums are all about these days.”
Last week’s event theme was Classic American Whiskey. Thursday’s theme is Whiskeys of the World — primarily Scotch. Indie-folk and country duo Southern Rift will perform. July 20 focuses on Whiskeys of the West, with music by folk duo Casey and Minna. July 27 features Whiskeys of the World, including Canadian, Japanese and Irish, with music by progressive bluegrass band Grassland Caravan.
Whiskey expert and former Savings & Loan Co. bartender James Etzler leads the Saloon Series classes. Every 30 minutes, Etzler hosts a 10-15 minute session with a small group of participants, teaching them about whiskeys featured in that evening’s event.
Wolins said the museum surveyed its youngest employees to learn more about how it could expand its audience.
“We realized that the majority of museum visitors were either very young children or what I would call mature adults, which is not unusual in the museum world,” she said.
The Saloon Series concept was born after several employees suggested the venue host a craft beer or wine event. Wolins said organizers examined other metropolitan area events and, wanting to create something unique, decided a whiskey-themed event fit well with the museum’s larger mission of preserving Western culture.
Wolins said the museum is excited about the Saloon Series and hopes to continue it in the future.
“We think we’re really onto something,” she said. “We think this is the right thing at the right time in the right setting.”
The event also is open to non-whiskey drinkers. Admission without a whiskey flight is $5.
Visit nationalcowboymuseum.org or call 405-478-2250.
5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20 and July 27
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd St.
Print Headline: Fly West; National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum hosts weekly whiskey events.