Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Timberwolf and Black Bear

Our first daily double. On Saturday, we visited two bars: the Timberwolf Pub in Schroon Lake and the Black Bear in Pottersville. Originally, we had planned to start at the Wells House in Pottersville, which is currently closed, but rumor has it that it will reopen soon. We decided to start in Schroon Lake.

The Timberwolf Pub has an interesting architectural design which I will call Bavarian style. The interior is open and well-lit, with several ceiling fans with lights. The large bar could accommodate 15 to 20 people; several tables throughout the room even more. The walls are tongue and groove pine with a shelf around the whole room displaying a multitude of ceramic houses. A brightly lit alcove over the restroom doors display a plethora of Easter decorations. Helen, the owner and bartender on duty, informed us that she decorates this area according to every occasion. In addition to this display, several stuffed wolves, a fisher and a grinning fox, stand silently, watching over the bar. Too many stiff drinks?

On a chilly day, it was warm and comfortable in the Timberwolf Pub. We received a friendly greeting by a local at the bar upon entering and, believe it or not, that hasn’t been the case in our adventures so far this year. An over sized, handmade hat labeled “TIPS” sat at the end of the bar. Naturally, Kim couldn’t help remarking that someone has lofty goals. Helen chuckled and informed us that someone had volunteered to play music the night before “just for tips”. She discreetly tucked the hat behind the bar. While we were there, a patron had a package delivered to him at the bar. I had a sense of the smallness of the community and the hominess of the Timberwolf.

On weekends they have a DJ on one night and karaoke on the other. Quick Draw and scratch off tickets are available for amusement as well. The Timberwolf Pub does not have a happy hour, but does offer two drink specials – Carbomb consisting of Jaegermeister and Red Bull and the Long Island Iced Tea made from a variety of liquors combined with Coke that somehow achieves the iced tea flavor. They are open year round, seven days a week, catering to locals and tourists. The menu is broad, with basic pub fare and home style dinner specials, all very reasonably priced. Although the Timberwolf Pub has been under the same ownership for ten years, it does have a fresh look.

Next stop, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar…

Just off Exit 26 of the Adirondack Northway, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar have occupied this corner on Route 9 for over half a century. Walking into the Black Bear is like stepping back in time.

The red and black checkerboard linoleum-tiled floor is well worn by decades of dog-tired working-class feet. The bar is no nonsense; green formica topped and wood framed, with purse hooks beneath, kind of like church, though the similarity stops there. The bar mysteriously wraps around into a large adjoining room, spacious enough to accommodate occasional performers, Friday night karaoke and, rarely, a band.

According to the North Warren Chamber of Commerce website, Quick Draw, Lottery games, OTB and EZ Bet are also available here. The decor is decidedly early garage sale: beer posters and signs, a jukebox, photo collages spanning many years, ’60′s retro “big-eyed” children prints identify the restrooms, and a stuffed black bear wearing bunny ears and carrying an Easter basket. The Black Bear bears all the evidence of a home away from home, open seven days a week.

Surprisingly, no draft beer, but 30 bottled choices and the liquor staples suffice. They don’t appear to have a happy hour but their regular prices already beat most happy hours. I had a 12 ounce bottle of Sam Adams, which the bartender poured into a pint glass. Oddly enough, it filled the glass. There were perhaps eight or ten other people in the bar; most seemed to know one another. Like most hometown bars, the Black Bear seems like a quiet, friendly place to spend a lazy afternoon watching NASCAR on the modest TV and exchanging good-natured insults with friends.

Last week’s review stirred up some controversy over the food at Flanagan’s vs. the Black Bear, so we had to eat. The bar and the restaurant are separate entities, though we were able to order and eat at the bar. Order the wings hot if you want medium, medium if you want mild, and mild if you want sweet, we were advised by the bartender. We ordered hot, which were indeed medium, but they smelled and tasted delicious. We also split a burger, which arrived clad in a soft, fresh kaiser roll, topped with lettuce and tomato, with a generous side of fries. No complaints; it was quite satisfying.

Whether it was the dreariness of the day, or the funk between seasons, our enthusiasm was lacking. In a way, it’s great to visit places when it’s the off-season, but we look forward to a having a few more people around. We know. Careful what you wish for.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.

Kim and Pam Ladd

Kim and Pam Ladd


Sisters Kim and Pam Ladd recently self-published Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide and a companion Happy Hour Trail Passport. As they continue to market and distribute their current book, they also conduct research for their next project, Happy Hour at the 19th Hole. With the lofty goal of becoming the Adirondack Park's "Drinking Authority," Kim and Pam report on drinking-related topics and events inside the Blue Line here at the Almanack and at their own blog. You can also visit their website, follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

The pair have spent most of their lives in Warren County. Pam has a degree in Computer Science, but her passion is mixology. She and her husband and daughter live in Warrensburg. Kim is a freelance photographer whose sports images regularly appear in the Adirondack Journal. She has a degree in Advertising Design and lives in Thurman with her family.


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