Prescott, A Little Bit of New England in AZ

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I sometimes (ok, often) wish I lived in Prescott. The first time I visited, I kept thinking it looked like someone had dropped a New England village in Yavapai County. I’m sure it’s the Court House that makes me think about running muskets and bayonets to Lexington and Bunker Hill.

Not that Scottsdale isn’t a “most livable city,” but let’s face it, living in a sauna for half the year can be a challenge. Even if it’s a dry sauna, which it isn’t during the summer monsoon season. It’s a fair trade for a short winter.

My BF Nico and I spent last weekend up at Prescott, just to get away for a short time. We’ve been there before, together and alone, but it was the first time we did an overnight there. I think I can say that we enjoyed every moment.

I’m pleased to report that almost all the businesses damaged by last May’s fire are up and running. The Bird Cage Saloon is getting ready to reopen in a new location, still on Whiskey Row. The old sign is back up.

Prescott’s Whiskey Row, Twinkie Dolls, and Fried Olives

I promised myself that on this visit, I’d try more whiskey on Whiskey Row. Our first stop was The Palace, where I asked the bartender for a smooth whiskey good for a lightweight. She suggested Maker’s Mark. Nice recommendation, in fact very nice. Incredibly, it soothed the high-altitude headache I usually get at over 5,000 feet. Then I split a beer on tap with Nico–a local brew and I wish I could remember the name. I like trying local brews.

We didn’t eat there, as everyone knows The Palace is kind of overpriced and the food is ok; not bad, but nothing to get excited over. Instead, we stopped in at Devil’s Pantry, where the menu includes stuff you find at the State Fair that would send Dr. Oz into a convulsion: fried twinkies and Oreos, caramel apple fries, deep fried turkey legs, and chocolate bacon.

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Devil’s Pantry Twinkie Doll

They even had fried olives, which I hoped Nico would try since he’s Greek, but no luck there. I was tempted to try Lord of the Fries but went for steak and tater fries. No disappointment. Devil’s Pantry also features local brews on tap and yes, we imbibed. We also met their  Twinkie Doll, for which the owner says someone offered 50 bucks.

Outside, there was an antique car show to check out. It turns out that there was a rally that started earlier that day from Phoenix to Flagstaff. Prescott was the lunch stopover. Quite a number of cars were from England, including the car I would have had when I lived there in the 90s, had I been born Lady Yankee.

Next, we visited the Jersey Lilly Saloon, which I immediately realized could be the title of my next blog. Jersey Lilly is a second-floor saloon, the type where someone could figuratively be thrown down its very long flight of stairs but the place is pretty mellow. It was there that I did a real sampling of whiskey, and sipped some Glenfiddich, Macallen 12, and another Maker’s Mark, just to be sure. Maker’s Mark won again, although that 12-year Macallen was pretty nice, too.

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Sampling whiskey at the Jersey Lilly Saloon

I should mention that I wasn’t doing shots of each of these—I would have no doubt passed out—but was given a small sample of each.

I was in the mood for steak, so we had dinner at the Firehouse Kitchen in the Old Firehouse Plaza and ate on the deck off the upstairs dining room. We shared a New York Roulade, which was very tasty although not really cooked medium as Nico requested. For some reason, Nico can’t get steak cooked to his request. It was, to be honest, pretty rare on the inside. We also shared a terrific dish of calamari tacos.

We both liked the solo guitarist who I’m guessing is a regular performer there. He took requests, so I asked for “anything Bruce” and got a sweet acoustic of Fire.

Prescott’s New England Connection

We were both a bit surprised to run into more New Englanders than you’d expect in Prescott. Maybe it’s the New England look and feel. Anyway, given that this was the weekend following the Boston Marathon bombing, it seems significant to mention. All of them told us that they had friends and family who’d been in Boston—the marathon is held on Patriots’ Day, an official holiday in the New England states—and one had a relative who crossed the finish about two minutes before the explosions.

One of these New Englandahs owns Van Gogh’s Ear, a large, fun gallery on Whiskey Row we visited on our second morning. (Only a New Englander would have the guts to keep fine art near a bunch of saloons.) It sells everything from traditional fine arts—paintings, sculpture, mixed-media—to jewelry, including several pieces made from recycled items, to elaborately painted handmade shoes.

We headed for a quick brunch at Prescott Lobster & Seafood Company, a very new and small cafe, also in the Old Firehouse Plaza. We learned about this place from a guy who was walking around the car show in a lobster suit the day before. Turns out he was from New Jersey and yes, a Yankees fan. He swore on Derek Jeter’s ankle that Prescott Lobster has the best lobster rolls around. Well, probably the only ones to be fair. According to the Van Gogh gallery owners, the cafe had only opened a couple of months ago and quickly became quite a hit. I’ve never had a lobster roll before so I can’t judge but the one Nico and I shared was beyond delicious.

It’s Elementary: Watson Lake’s Volcanic History

We then headed out for Watson Lake, part of Prescott’s park system. Watson Lake is about five miles north of Whiskey Row, recommended to Nico by the owner of Van Gogh’s Ear. What a gorgeous lake, er, reservoir! One side is dotted with volcanic rock and features granite cliffs popular with rock climbers. You can fish there, rent kayaks, and launch your own non-motorized boat. They charge $2 to park there, and campsites are available for $15 per night.

People sometimes complain that there isn’t a lot to do in Prescott. With the bars and bands at night, weekend festivals at the Court House, reasonably priced restaurants, and gorgeous parks, I need more time to get enough of it.

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