A local night out in Dawson City
The full Yukon Brewing beer roster, brewed in capital city Whitehorse, is available, and the Lead Dog Olde English Ale is recommended. But Peggy’s specialises in well-executed cocktails with racy names like Easy Lai, made of passion fruit liqueur, coconut rum and pineapple juice and Brazen Hussy, concocted with gin, triple sec, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice.
Like several Dawson bars, Peggy’s closes in winter when temperatures shiver down to -30C. But regulars have developed a handy way to stay warm: on winter Friday nights, a different house each week hosts a party under the Bombay banner, and everyone drops by with booze and food to keep things rolling.
Some Dawson bars are open year-round, including the one inside Canada’s oldest legal casino. Run as a not-for-profit by the local tourism association (proceeds are re-invested in the community), Diamond Tooth Gerties is named after another of the Gold Rush’s infamous working ladies – and yes, she had a diamond wedged between her two front teeth.
As the heart of Dawson nightlife, the small, friendly casino is a million miles from soulless Las Vegas gambling factories. Here, the slot machines and poker tables take second place to a large wooden stage where chorus girls prance behind a femme fatal singer who works the room, mussing the hair of seated, slack-jawed males.
Like stepping into a classy Wild West saloon, Gerties’ burlesque-lite show runs three times a night in summer; late-carousing locals prefer the midnight performance. It is the perfect way to remember Dawson’s gritty but party-loving good old days.