Wednesday, April 13, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Flanagan’s in Schroon Lake

The trip to Schroon Lake was much shorter than I expected, even though we took the scenic route. It was the first really nice Spring day of the season. Schroon Lake was bustling, for April. People were out walking. Just seeing people on the streets is as much a sign of spring as the crocuses blooming.

Tucked amid a small group of Main Street storefronts in Schroon Lake, Flanagan’s Pub and Grill is well-kept and very attractive with a stone facade. Its hand-painted signs promising a family restaurant atmosphere, we accepted the invitation.

One of only two bars in a small community just stirring from its winter sleep, we arrived with modest expectations and hearty appetites, noting their boast of famous wings. We reviewed the menu posted outside and noted that they are open at noon and are closed on Tuesday. The bartender, Joshua, later clarified that they are only closed on Tuesday during the winter months.

Flanagan’s has been in business for 50-60 years but, upon entering, we immediately noticed it has been well-maintained. The floor shined with extra coats of polyurethane. We passed through the dining area heading toward the bar, taking in the surroundings. Bright copper lights sparkled over the booths; a bear, a deer and a moose head adorned one wall overhead. Clever placards hung here and there touting the virtues of drinkers and their wives, seventies music played on the jukebox.

We had heard about Flanagan’s complicated seating hierarchy and headed toward the back, near the jukebox and small collection of arcade games, in order to assume a proper location. Finding all those seats occupied, we moved closer to the front (locals) section. We’re not tourists or flatlanders (clearly not), or weekenders, summer residents, nor even just passing through. But we’re definitely NOT locals (I think that was made silently but abundantly clear), but we sat there anyway, sensing (or imagining) sidelong glances from those patrons rightfully classified as such.

The bartender, at first reluctant to share his identity, muttering something about witness protection, took our orders. We later learned, through the process of elimination, that his name was Josh. I ordered a Long Trail Harvest Brown Ale, a dark wheat from Flanagan’s well-selected draft choices: Coors Light, Yuengling, Guinness, Lake Placid Ubu, Long Trail Seasonal and Davidson Brothers IPA and Brown. The Long Trail was delightful – light, mild, malty-flavored, subtly sweet for a dark beer, the color of a cola and nearly as bubbly and somewhat thin and clear without being watery. I would buy a six-pack of this if I came across it. No drink specials in the off-season, no suggestions forthcoming from Joshua, so Pam was on her own. She made a rash decision for vodka and grapefruit. In an effort to lighten the mood, she specified, “Plain vodka, no Bakon vodka for me, please!”

The Amish-made barstools were of padded fabric and rustic wood, and very heavy when trying to get out of them. The dining room also had the same matching chairs. I was especially appreciative of the heater that ran the length of the bar and served as the footrest. I despise the cold and, despite the warm day, my boldly sandaled toes were chilly.

We ordered food from the extensive menu of yummy treats and chatted at length with the gentleman at the end of the bar. He was a local by the name of Greyling, which we thought was a very cool name. As we jotted notes, he was the first to inquire about our purpose, seemed interested in the concept of barhopping for a living, and was encouraging in our endeavors. Off-season, Flanagan’s is mostly locals, but increases to about 90% tourists in the summer months. Pam checked out the deck in the back and found that to be small, but comfortable, and overlooking a brook. It started to rain, so she returned to the bar.

My buffalo chicken wrap arrived with bleu cheese, medium hot, from the standard but varied menu. If the deliciousness of the buffalo chicken in the wrap was any indication of the quality of their wings, then I can probably safely assume Flanagan’s claim to famous wings is accurate. Delicately crisp and tender, the tangy, spicy sauce wafting into my nostrils, filled my sinuses with flavor that continued on my taste buds. The bleu cheese gave the chicken a creamy complement, all rolled into the fresh wrap. Pam’s heaping plate of supreme nachos (with chili) was impressive, fresh and quite tasty. The prices were pretty reasonable with most items $7 to $10. Drink prices were pretty standard.

The bathroom was clean and nicely finished in Adirondack woods. Hot water, paper towels and toilet paper – what more could a woman ask for! Speaking of women, I had the distinct feeling that a woman is behind the decor and overseeing the maintenance of Flanagan’s. Men just don’t seem to pay that much attention to the details.

I’m curious whether the locals disappear during the summer months when most of the clientele are visitors, or are just absorbed. With the homey comforts of Flanagan’s in their backyard, I doubt they can stay away.

Related Stories

In 2013, sisters Kim and Pam Ladd 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 are back on the trail doing research for their next project – a guide to breweries, wineries and distilleries in and around the Adirondack Park.

In 2014 they created their own drinking event, a bartender competition they call “BARRED!”, which they expect will become an annual event held in the early spring in collaboration with Basil & Wick’s in North Creek.

With the lofty goal of becoming the Adirondack "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 family live in Warrensburg. Kim is a freelance photographer with a degree in Advertising Design and lives in Thurman with her husband.

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