Around here, all roads lead back to Stampede, but that fact definitely does not mean that surprises don’t still abound, even on Stampede Park. Newly opened in The Big Four Roadhouse is a luxurious and striking high-end cocktail bar and restaurant that is a little less country and a lot more city than you may first expect, while still taking its cues from the granddaddy of Stampede himself.
“A little-known fact is that Guy Weadick, the founder of Calgary Stampede, was actually a New Yorker,” explains Thomas Hill, Manager of Bar Nineteen Twelve (1912 was the year of the very first Calgary Exhibition and Stampede).
As a New Yorker, Weadick was known to frequent the bars that city offered for his various business meetings, and back in the early 1900s New York boasted some of the most fashionable and famous spots to imbibe in the world. Bar Nineteen Twelve is modeled after these legendary places, with exquisite Italian furnishings, great food, passionate service, and most notable of all, a head-turning rotating offering of world-class cocktails.
“True to the avant garde New York City bars of the era, Bar Nineteen Twelve is taking advantage of the latest changes in Alberta liquor laws to produce high-end cocktails unlike any Stampede Park has ever seen,” says Hill. “Myself and the team have created some playful and very much modern beverages. Some change colour, others take 24 hours to produce, but all are perfectly decadent. We adjust the offering seasonally and produce specialty offerings for our clients too!”
The Big Four Roadhouse has a rich and interesting history – one we’ve explored already here – and with this newest addition, the spot continues to build momentum as a versatile event space. The stylish setting of Bar Nineteen Twelve offers multiple semi-private areas for both large and small groups, areas that Hill notes can be “opened or closed at a moment’s notice.” Your event will benefit from a creative menu, drawing on over 100 years of Stampede history, and the team even offers experience-oriented options like a cocktail class or wine tasting and pairing.
No matter what brings you to the space, the food and drink that land on your table won’t be all you enjoy taking in. Along with art deco details and luxury touches that harken back to the heyday of New York City drinking establishments are charming nods to Stampede’s roots and the history of the building. For example, the bar’s walls feature the brands from each of The Big Four’s ranches – “I bet they would feel right at home!” Hill says.
In one of the location’s many incarnations it was a casino, with the bar space at the time known as Mavericks. Back then, a flamboyant carpet was installed that featured, to the dismay of some visitors, fish “swimming” toward you as you entered the bar.
“Unknown to the designers, some of our previous patrons were more than a little superstitious in nature,” says Hill. “Not interested in going against the flow, many turned and left.”
In an homage to the old space and as a tongue-in-cheek way to right an old wrong, a piece of the old carpet has been kept in a frame in Bar Nineteen Twelve.
“But don’t worry,” Hill assures, “the fish swim in the preferred direction now!”