Even if there weren’t a gift shop lined with books of local interest, the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake would be a contender on our list of the “46 High Peaks” bars in the Adirondacks. The hotel, with its rough slab siding, gabled shingle roof and sprawling porches stands overlooking Long Lake, separated only by a two-lane road. The original hotel opened in 1879 as Kellogg’s Lake House, which was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt and opened as the Adirondack Hotel in 1904. Surviving devastating fires and, most recently, the flood of 2011, the Adirondack Hotel still speaks of its original grandeur in a place where its history, and its people, endure.
Accosted by wildlife of impressive proportions, we were greeted by a six-foot-tall black bear on the left as we entered the hotel, and a moose head overseeing check-ins at the antique hotel reception desk. The bear was shot in Long Lake in 1978; the moose head hangs on the wall at what would be its actual height were the body still attached, its antlers just touching the ceiling. Victorian antiques accent the light and airy sitting and dining rooms. Simple, two-bulb pendant chandeliers suspended from white painted tin ceilings cast their light on several Adirondack paintings, including two portraits of Noah John Rondeau, famous hermit.
We stepped from the worn linoleum tiles to the aged hardwood floors of the Tap Room, tucked away in a far corner of the hotel, and were enveloped in the history of the bar at the Adirondack Hotel. Rustic and dim, the rough pine walls, polished bar, and rich, dark barstools presented contrast to the sunny lobby and dining areas. Peering from between three televisions, the taxidermied eyes of many animals looked on. Hoping we didn’t appear as glassy-eyed, we approached without caution as the bartender’s eyes locked ours. Warmly greeted by Colleen, we surveyed the options and ordered the 74th first drink of our quest. Offering a diverse microbrew selection which varies seasonally, the Adirondack Hotel’s signature drink is the modest but well appointed draft lineup: Switchback Vermont Ale, Lake Placid Brewery Ubu, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Harpoon IPA, Budweiser and Coors Light. Standard liquor and bottled beers are also available, at about average prices. Happy Hour is when you’re there, but no special pricing applies.
The Tap Room can seat approximately 30 people. A deck off the bar, overlooking the lake, has a variety of seating options for fair weather overflow. Although bar service is not offered outside, drinks are welcome on the deck and on the front porch. The front porch offers six rockers, four tables for two, two tables for four and two picnic tables on the grounds.
Colleen imparted the following facts pertinent to our research. The Adirondack Hotel is open year-round. The Tap Room closes for Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, but the hotel remains open. The Tap Room hours of operation are generally from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. with closing extending later as dictated by the season and the number of patrons. Entertainment is featured throughout the year in the form of open mic night and a variety of musical entertainers.
Carol and Carmine Inserra have owned the Adirondack Hotel for the past 21 years. We had an opportunity to meet Carol, a lovely and gracious woman with a relaxed and pleasant demeanor. She shared with us some of the hotel’s history, as well as the story of how it came into her and her husband’s possession, starting with a phone call on April Fools’ Day. Carmine handles most of the maintenance himself, but is rumored to take as much interest in the chicken and ribs barbecue he hosts every Wednesday and Saturday all summer long. The hotel offers 18 rooms, an apartment and a suite; some with private bath, and none with phone or television, though a television can be found on each floor in the common rooms. Cell service and open WiFi are available for those who want to stay connected.
The bar entertains locals all year and tourists in summer and winter, and lists Helen Keller, Jack Dempsey, Mick Jagger and Mickey Mantle among its famous visitors. According to the Adirondack Hotel’s website, “Before you leave, everyone will know your name.” We had the opportunity to meet two locals. We don’t know if they caught our names, but Mike and Bill highly recommend the Tap Room at the Adirondack Hotel. So do we.
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, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.