The holidays in Sun Valley are unique. From the snow-covered peaks (and ski runs!) that surround the Wood River Valley, to the old-fashioned charm of the Sun Valley Village and the decidedly European feel of the Resort, Christmas in Sun Valley is straight out of a beloved picture book. I have spent more than 30 Christmases in Sun Valley and while I certainly appreciate all that the Resort does to keep current (our amazing snowmaking and grooming, the gorgeous Lodge remodel, The Spa, and new
The Duchin Lounge has long been a Sun Valley landmark. Known for its rich history, strong drinks and live music, located in the lobby of the recently remodeled Lodge it has been the hub of the resort—at least for adults.
The new Duchin Lounge, which opened just a week ago, has gone through a few rather significant changes in hopes of creating some rich history of its own. Here’s a rundown of the new and improved Duchin Lounge.
Open and Modern
The old Duchin room had the look and feel of a lounge that had been lost-in-time. It was warm and cozy, with dark woods and deep red accents, and seemed like it hadn’t changed much since it first opened in 1936.
It was easy to sit at the long bar and envision Hemingway or Marilyn Monroe and countless other long-gone celebrities enjoying a drink next to you. This isn’t the first time the Duchin Lounge has seen some changes since it was first designed by its namesake, Marjorie Duchin (also known for the famous musicians in her life, her husband Eddy and son Peter). But this one is a pretty big transformation.
The history of the bar hasn’t changed, but its look and feel certainly have. The new Duchin Lounge is open, light and modern, with a more energetic vibe. It also has a smaller bar in a different place. The bar is now in what was the far corner, where the piano was usually found. The piano is still there, played by a professional musician every night, but it’s been relocated next to the fireplace and by the entrance to the lobby. There is also a nice patio overlooking the skating rink and Dollar Mountain.
“I loved the old Duchin. It was cozy and familiar,” said bar manager Kurt Harris, who’s been calling Sun Valley home off and on since 1989. “Now it’s much brighter and more open and alive. There are fresh mountain breezes coming through the open doors. People are really enjoying the patio. For the most part, it has been received really well and people are enjoying the new space.”
As Kurt finished making that statement another patron quickly piped in, before wandering off with his date and his cocktail, that the Duchin room was a lot different now and that some of the places he had great memories of were moved or gone. But, he said, it looks good and like he’ll have to start making some new memories.
The “Wrinkle Room,” as it has long been called, has put on a fresh new suit and is looking pretty hip and stylish. Just like it must have looked to Papa when he took breaks penning “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
The biggest difference besides the look is that the Duchin Lounge is now kid friendly. While children, of course, aren’t allowed to sit at that bar, they will be allowed in the lounge and on the patio.
“It’s just more family friendly now,” Kurt said. A statement that could be applied to just about every aspect of the multi-million dollar Lodge remodel.
The Duchin Lounge has quickly become a popular spot for families arriving to Sun Valley late and hungry or looking for a place to watch a ballgame and have a quick bite.
“It’s a great place to relax and hang out and people are already taking advantage of it,” Kurt said.
The Duchin Lounge’s light fare and hand-crafted cocktail menus have also been quick to catch on with the late night crowd. Historically, it’s been pretty tough to get anything to eat around Ketchum and Sun Valley after 10 pm. The Duchin Lounge has fixed that problem
Hand-crafted Cocktails & Small Bites
Sun Valley and its surroundings have long been known for world class culinary fare—unless you wanted to eat after, say, the sun goes down in the summer, and then you usually had to choose between frozen burritos at the mini mart or candy bars at a vending machine.
The Duchin Room is now serving until midnight, and they’re serving some pretty delicious small bites and unique cocktails.
The menu at the Duchin Lounge offers nearly a dozen options, perfect to split or for late night snacks. Chef Derek Gallegos, a longtime local favorite, serves everything from Shrimp and Avocado Cocktail to Lobster Rolls, Pistachio Cheese Balls, Steamed Artichokes and Tempura Green Beans.
“The food is really good,” said Kurt, who has been in the bar and restaurant business for three decades.
The cocktail menu is also really good. Kurt has remodeled the drink menu with the same style and flare the Lodge has received.
While the Duchin Lounge still offers all the classics drinks like the “Hemingway Daiquiri” and Sun Valley “Manhattans,” there’s also a large variety of unique cocktails to tease your palate.
Kurt has brought some Big City tastes to the heart of the Northern Rockies. The “9,150’” is named after Baldy’s elevation and with its Fernet Blanc float is as enjoyable to look at as it is to drink. The Maker’s Mark-based “Hazard County” promises that—much like the “Dukes of Hazzard”—it’s “never meaning no harm.”
And the “Femme Tourment,” which balances Aviation gin, green chartreuse and a few other ingredients, is so good it somehow managed to make a gin-hater like myself a fan.
While the old Duchin Lounge might be nothing but old memories now, the new version is sure to help create a lot of new and enjoyable ones.
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