Bartender and owner Dave Florence poses with a few cocktails at Archie's, a new speakeasy inside Bid's Place in Mills. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Mills pizza joint Bid’s Place has been reliably serving pies in a nondescript ’60s-era strip mall for over 20 years. Its neighbors sell donuts, groom dogs and give dance lessons.

The place is more Tony Soprano than Al Capone, until one notices a small room at the very back of Bid’s. Enter, and a world of prohibition-era cocktails awaits.

Bid’s Place co-owner Dave Florence found inspiration for Archie’s, his new speakeasy cocktail bar, from his lifelong fascination with old-school mafia. “I idolized the gangsters when I was a kid,” said Florence. “They had class and style with the way they did things.”

Fortunately, Florence never got into this kind of family business. “I realized that their retirement plan wasn’t good, since you had to die,” he said. Instead, he studied criminal justice and worked for 16 years at the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office before taking early retirement. Florence and his wife Marci then bought the struggling Bid’s Place a few years years back and have worked to revive it.

 

Dave Florence pours a sidecar cocktail at Archie’s in Mills. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Florence recently had the idea of making more creative use of his distribution room, an area set off from the restaurant as a regulatory requirement to pour liquor. Not much of a drinker himself, he set out to research the craft of making ’20s-era cocktails. Eventually he found a vintage “little black book” of cocktail recipes.

Tequila is out since it was nearly impossible to smuggle the spirit over the southern border, Florence said. Most spirits were sneaking in from Canada and Ireland through sophisticated mafia connections, which meant the majority of cocktails were based on whiskey along with gin and vodka.

Florence uses as much Wyoming-made spirits as possible. The clear drinks are from local distillers Backwards, and whiskey and rye comes mainly from Wyoming Whiskey. He also has Wyoming beer on tap, and a few Wyoming wines. Some cocktails are even made with wine or beer. All mixers are made fresh in house, right down to the boozy soaked maraschino cherries.

Eventually Florence plans to plant passwords on Facebook for customers hoping to get into the speakeasy. It probably won’t be very well enforced, admits Dave, but rather involve deals for loyal customers.

“We love our customers, love to talk to them and make them feel like home,” said Florence. “Like part of the family.”

Archie’s is located inside Bid’s Place at 4709 W. Yellowstone in Mills and open Monday through Saturday from 2:00 to 8:00.

 

A freshly-mixed sidecar cocktail at Archie’s in Mills. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

 

Archie’s version of an apple pie a la mode cocktail uses Backwards Milk Can cinnamon moonshine and heavy cream. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

 

Dave Florence places a maraschino cherry in an old fashioned cocktail at Archie’s. Like all of their mixers, the maraschino cherries are house made from scratch. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

 

Dave Florence mixes a “Bid’s Cocktail”, an off-the-menue item at Archie’s. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

 

A “Bid’s Cocktail” at Archie’s in Mills. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)