The Long Horn Restaurant and Pub at Lake Vanare in Lake Luzerne has been owned by Jeremy and Shannon Carner for three years. Right off the area snowmobile trail, they were kept very busy with an abundance of snow this winter. Glad to see some good come from that snow. In the summer months, the Long Horn caters to vacationers and motorcyclists. Lake Vanare, Fourth Lake and Lake George are all close by. In the immediate vicinity are camping, cabins for rent, an assortment of motels and vacation homes. A few dude ranches draw yet another crowd.
The exterior of the Long Horn boasts a rustic wood and brick theme. Patios adorn both sides, but were not yet set up for use. Upon entering through the bar entrance, the eye is drawn to a specials board mounted on the backside of a large fireplace, the centerpiece for both rooms. Slate and hardwood floors complement the fireplace; log rafters and pine paneled walls lend warmth. Pub tables on both sides of the room, only moderately distanced from the bar, were empty as we arrived, but filled up quickly. The dining room, which features another fireplace, is completely separate from the bar to afford a quieter atmosphere. A pool room at the other end offers enough seclusion to be a part of the bar scene, but to play a serious game.
The bar was full, but we found an empty pub table adjacent to the bar, close enough to feel a part of the crowd. We were immediately greeted by the waitress who took our drink orders and offered menus. Specialty drinks like the Almond Kiss, Hot Bootie and Peppermint Pattie, the usual liquor stock, and plenty of bottled and draft beer selections were available. The Long Horn also has a “mug club” with members’ only discount benefits.
XM Radio music from our generation (not giving that one away) played at the right volume in the background. We found the patrons to be friendly almost immediately. We met a member of the local band, Hill Billy Rocker, who goes by the name of Wild Bill, and learned the story behind the moniker as well. Carl was just passing through from a window tinting job and had decided to stop in. He shared a story about already being mentioned in a book, and seemed to be looking forward to a new story along that line. Pat and Jim, whose business cards boast “snowbirds” as their occupation, overheard the summary of our endeavors and eagerly shared a story of a similar encounter in Myrtle Beach as well as the inside scoop on a number of fantastic local happy hour venues. Better keep an eye on those two!
We eventually settled in and ordered from the varied and creative menu. Evidence of the influence of Deadheads was discreet, but menu items cleverly named after Grateful Dead songs, a small framed drawing of Jerry Garcia, and a skull hidden above the fireplace quietly suggested we were among friends. We ordered a half-order of supreme nachos ($5.69), a chicken fajita wrap ($7.89), and Cosmic Charlie’s Chili ($3.49 cup; $4.99 bowl). The nachos were indeed “supreme” and the wrap and chili both delivered an unexpected and subtle smoky flavor.
The Long Horn was closed for a week in April. The owners took a vacation, but it was obvious that the floor had just been resurfaced with polyurethane, a complete cleaning was performed and I believe I smelled fresh paint in the restroom. I admire a business willing to forgo a week’s income to freshen up for a new season.
Eventually a few stools opened at the bar and I was able to interview the bartender. Since most of the facts needed were available on their website, I didn’t have to burden Leah with too many mundane questions. She confirmed that the Long Horn is closed on Tuesday all year round. My margarita was served in a pint glass, and I wanted to know if that was the norm or if we were getting special treatment. Leah’s answer was this: “I’m Irish! If I can’t get drunk, I’m going to get you drunk.” Very quotable and evasive.
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.