Sticks & Stones Bistro & Bar in Schroon Lake was just a twinkle in the eyes of owners Steve Holmes and Gary Tromblee when we were wrapping up the selection of our favorite bars in the Adirondack Park. The doors opened at the same time as our book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, hit the market. We recently visited Sticks & Stones and walked away knowing they were a “High Peak” in our book. A Happy Hour MacNaughton.
Nearly a century ago, the bootleg trail from Canada to New York City ran smack through the Adirondacks. Bootleggers risked life and limb transporting locally distilled hooch and smugglers ran whiskey from Canada, eluding dry agents and spawning crime and corruption. Chestertown and its surrounding communities recently commemorated this period in history with related activities.
It was a damp and drizzly Thursday night at Warrensburg’s Luck E Star Cafe where the Greater Warrensburg Business Alliance hosted a 1950s-era Car Hop. Among the vendors, we hawked books and passports as the drama unfolded. Those gathered were whisked from the 1950s to the roaring ‘20s when a carload of rumrunners screeched into the parking lot and piled out » Continue Reading.
We’re back! Winter found us sequestered at Pammy’s Pub finalizing (and editing, editing, editing) bar reviews for Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide. Add to that the preparation, primping, and posing of 46 cocktails for their close-ups, and it’s easy to see why we’ve been absent. Spring coaxed our creativity with a marketing plan and promotion schedule. Summer put us on the road throughout the Adirondacks, selling and signing wherever we were welcome.
With all that attention to detail and embellishment, the realization hit. The current trend toward drink artistry, rather than guzzling gluttony, has led to a focus on flavor and presentation. Complicated preparations, the use of local and » Continue Reading.
Whether measured as 9,375 square miles or as 6.1 million acres, we can vouch for the fact that the Adirondack Park is huge. We covered most of the main roads in the park, visited nearly 120 bars and clocked over 5,600 miles since we began our project in January, 2011, to find the best 46 “High Peak” bars in the Adirondack Park. The farthest distance traveled one way was 110 miles to Cranberry Lake. Many others were very close to that distance in any direction. Pam, a self-proclaimed excellent driver, logged most of those miles while Kim served as navigator, photographer and chief note taker.
We’re hearing it more and more. Don’t just shop local, eat and drink local too. A prevailing theme in the Adirondacks is, “We need snow. If we don’t get any this winter, we might not be here next year!” With so many bars and restaurants supported by tourism in summer and winter, we need to help them stay afloat in between. Think of the number of times you’ve passed a restaurant or store and thought I really have to check that place out, only to find it closed for business on your last drive by.
Grace’s Restaurant in Warrensburg is one of the places we wish we had frequented more often, but we were » Continue Reading.
After years of kitchen drudgery and dishpan hands, all of a sudden everyone wants us to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Provided, of course, WE BRING THE DRINKS! Pammy’s no Julia Child but she can do a throwdown cocktail that’ll make Bobby Flay take notice! Creativity is all you need to shake up the traditional feast. Just keep the menu in mind. Compatibility with the flavors of the meal is important. Compatibility with family members or other guests is something we’re not qualified to help you with, but a few tasty beverages might not hurt.
We’re not sure how it goes at your house, but we always have a plethora of snacks » Continue Reading.
Though only a few tables remained on the Mediterranean style raised terrace at JC Montana’s in early November, it was obvious that this would be a great place to sit and relax on a summer day. Located in the center of Lake George on Canada Street, just across from Shepard Park, JC Montana’s affords an opportunity to enjoy food and drinks with friends, watch passersby or listen to music either on site or from the nearby park.
The sandwich board outside boasted a plentiful array of seafood specials and the smells from the kitchen as we entered the restaurant and bar made it difficult to pass up. Instantly greeted by the bartender, » Continue Reading.
We’ve visited well over 100 bars in the Adirondack Park on our quest for the best 46 bars in the Adirondacks, what we have termed as the 46 “High” Peaks. When we began our search, we didn’t have any preconceived notions about what would make a bar a 46-er. We have since chosen most of those 46. No two are exactly alike, and none has fit any absolute standard. A major factor in our determination, however, was that most people would feel comfortable at this bar.
That criterion works both ways, in that some may be too haughty for most people, inasmuch as some may be too divey. Honestly, there were very few too » Continue Reading.
We certainly felt like we’d covered every main route in our travels through the Adirondacks, but if it weren’t for several referrals to Baxter Mountain Tavern in Keene, we might have missed this one. Its location on Route 9N, between Elizabethtown and Keene, eluded us. We’ve traveled to Elizabethtown, then back, and have been through Keene numerous times on our way to Lake Placid and beyond, but never connected the dots. One more reason to abandon the GPS and find your own way.
Recommended to us by numerous hikers, the Baxter Mountain Tavern was obviously well known to so many others – locals, seasonal residents and tourists. As afternoon turned to evening, » Continue Reading.
Fourteen volunteers bravely responded to the first drink tasting at Pammy’s Pub, official drink lab of Happy Hour in the High Peaks. Representing a broad age range, from 21 to 70, equal numbers of male and female participants* were asked to rate five different samples of beverages for possible inclusion in our book.
More primate than lab rat, these subjects, when let out of their cages, exhibited animated enthusiasm rather than fear and complacency. Male respondents were observed to be less inclined to consume fruity or complicated beverages, while females participated in all trials. We’re not quite willing to share the formulas for each trial, but will try to convey the overall theme with » Continue Reading.
Escape the great camp style so overdone in the Adirondack Park and step into a true Adirondack bar at Charlie’s Inn and Restaurant on Junction Road in Lake Clear. Dating back to 1891 when the Lake Clear Junction station was built, history of the common traveler permeates the pub. Walls cluttered with memorabilia from every decade of its existence represent those who have come before. Look past the lottery and snack vending machines and feel the echoes from the train station across the road. Imagine the rum runners making their way to and from Canada, stopping in to share stories, to eat, to rest, to engage in their commerce.
It’s so BIG. If that isn’t your first impression when you enter The Ole Barn on Limekiln Lake Road in Inlet, then you must be from Texas or Montana. Bearing a ranch theme with wagon wheels, oversized ceiling fans and rough pine booths and walls, it feels like a bar that should on a dude ranch, not the stand-alone bar that it is.
Nearby Limekiln and Eighth Lake state campgrounds bring many patrons, but it is the snowmobilers in the winter that fill it to its capacity of 300. It reminded us of summer camp. Or what we imagine summer camp must be like.
The Cowboy was one of the more interesting finds after a couple of disappointments during our second visit to Lake Placid. Though seemingly a restaurant with a bar, we were excited when presented with an extensive drink menu. The restaurant has an equally interesting dinner menu, but that’s just wasted on us.
Neil, the bartender, extremely knowledgeable in his trade, seemed to know a lot about the variety of liquors they carry, and is possibly responsible for the overall diversity behind the bar.
What was beginning to feel like a wasted (no pun intended) trip to Lake Placid finally began to take a turn for the better. Originally arriving too early, we returned to Liquids and Solids at the Handlebar on a recommendation. We had considered skipping it after two of the three previous bars proved to be disappointing, but we weren’t sorry we backpedaled to give Liquids and Solids a proper review.
The long bar stretched out a hand in greeting, which we accepted. Lights with bare bulbs, painted dark, hung over the bar, adding a mysterious light for early afternoon. Eggplant colored walls breathed calm as they showcased their quirky and intriguing artwork. » Continue Reading.
Where have all the young people gone? Having spent 19 months reviewing bars, taverns and dives in the Adirondacks, the thought had crossed our minds, but we never vocalized it. We just assumed they came out later. Like vampires. Not during the afternoon and evening. Not during Happy Hour. Or maybe they just restricted themselves to larger venues like Lake Placid and Lake George.
We found them one Wednesday afternoon in July, at the Thirsty Moose Pub & Grub in Childwold, somewhere between Cranberry Lake and Tupper Lake.
The brick building, trim and neat, stands just feet from the sidewalk on Main Street in downtown Tupper Lake. P-2’s Irish Pub, illuminated in red and green neon, replaces its former moniker, Al’s Lounge. Inside, a suit of armor standing guard at the pool table silently observes our entrance.
Dimly lighted with amber pendants and recessed spotlights, the interior’s Irish pub characteristics gradually come to light. The curved bar a rich, dark wood with red padded front, shows signs of its age and character. Old cigarette burns mar the top, scars of forgotten conversations and decades of good times. Arrow back bar stools match the studded green faux leather walls, padded for » Continue Reading.
Trail’s End is a classic roadhouse bar located just outside Tupper Lake on Route 30. Step out the front door and look around. Surrounded by mountains, water, and trees, a few barely discernable dwellings dot the landscape. Located at the convergence of Tupper Lake, Simon Pond, Raquette Pond, and the Raquette River, Trails End earns the distinction of being the bar with the best view in Tupper Lake, with some of the nicest people.
As we stepped from our V-6 (not our V-twin), we received a friendly greeting from the pair of musicians seated with their guitars on a long bench on the porch. Thursday is open mic night at Trails End » Continue Reading.
Eighty miles to Tupper Lake. Another twenty-six to Cranberry Lake. The two-and-a-half-mile stretch on Tooley Pond Road, winding between Cranberry Lake and Silver Lake to the Windfall Bar and Grill, was the shortest leg of our travels. It’s all about perspective in the Adirondacks.
Rounding a curve just when we’d decided there was no sign of human interference other than the road and a small cemetery, we were somewhat surprised to find the Windfall Bar and Grill occupying a yellow ranch house. Nothing garish or pretentious about its curb appeal, just a simple looking country tavern and restaurant, well maintained and hospitable. The same was found within.
Located in what we call an “Adirondack plaza”, but known as the Willsborough Business Center, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub is unique in more than its location. Our definition of an Adirondack plaza, and we have encountered several of these business centers in our travels in the Park, is a building that houses multiple businesses but not all are accessed directly from the curb.
The Willsborough Business Center is home to a pharmacy, a bowling alley, a hair salon, several engineering and technology businesses, a bakery and, of course, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub. Enter through the business entrance and it’s one of the doors on the right. There are no windows in the » Continue Reading.
Just when we thought we had seen the best the Adirondacks has to offer, heeeere’s Johnny’s! If it were as simple as walking in with a ten-item checklist, Johnny’s Smokehouse and Sports Bar in Willsboro would be an easy ten. It isn’t, but they do have it all, inside and out.
In its infancy, Johnny’s was established by Trisha Sheehan in July, 2011 and seems well on its way to maturity. The combination of exciting and creative menu options, a wide selection of beverages, and an appealing atmosphere contribute to an overall enjoyable experience.