Wednesday, April 27, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Luzerne’s Waterhouse

It was yet another cold, dreary day and my expectations for Waterhouse’s were pretty low. Looking for adventure of any sort, I suggested we take the “shortcut” to Luzerne. Harrington Hill Road in Warrensburg meets Route 9 at Fourth Lake, but it’s a dirt road in between the two towns that isn’t maintained in the winter. As we left the pavement of Harrington Hill, we wondered what we would find.

We crossed over a small snowbank (that must be where they stop maintaining the road), some occasional wash-outs, and then came upon some pretty deep, sloppy mud. Kim had visions of our emerging in a mud-caked SUV with only wiper blade trails across the windshield. I turned off the heater in my SUV as we traversed a large crevice in the middle of the road; I was feeling a little warm by then. The road became clear again and we picked up the pace. We’ve traversed worse in a VW bus, but that’s another story.

Somewhat more optimistic after my driving adventure, we pulled into the large, partially filled parking area at Waterhouse. A deck and patio area waited patiently for the weather to change. We took a table in the bar area, as all of the barstools were taken. Cindy, our server, greeted us immediately. She shared beer specials as I tried to decide what to order. Cindy turned to me and, sensing my indecision, suggested a margarita. My eyes lit up and my spirits followed!

There are some establishments where you just don’t order a margarita, or anything containing more than two ingredients, unless they’re advertised. She joked that she was fighting with the bartender and wanted to “get even”. Nothing goes better with a margarita than a server with a sense of humor (except salt).

Several bottled and draft beer choices were available, with a “Mystery Mug” special on Shock Top.The bar is small but a lovely S-shaped oak; a model train sits on an overhead shelf above. No one theme is evident in the decor – a mixture of horse racing, golf, and a vast collection of police and fire department patches from all over the map. The stone fireplace, hardwood floors and knotty pine create a relaxing atmosphere.

The atmosphere was one of local camaraderie. We listened to the banter; welcomes to some who must have gotten away for a week or a winter. People kept coming in and the bar continued to fill, as did the adjacent dining room. Body language was noticeably different here. People sat or stood in anticipation, turned with one eye on the door, so new arrivals were not missed. A nice change from the hunch-shouldered, head-in-your-beer, furtive glance postures we’ve seen from time to time. The mood was contagious and soon Kim was off mingling a bit with the patrons, excited to meet them and get their point of view.

Once people know what we’re up to, they usually love the idea and tend to open up and offer suggestions. It doesn’t usually take long to find common acquaintances (or ancestors) among the crowd. People here were very approachable and friendly, and Kim took the opportunity to hand out some of our cards. We are always asked whether we’re related to Dan Ladd (probably). Is he asked the same about us?

I sat at the bar and continued to query the bartender/owner, Sue Waterhouse, whenever I could sneak in a question. Though off duty at the time, bartender Jim was also helpful in answering our questions.

Waterhouse’s has been in business for 65 years, owned by the Waterhouse family, and has been run by Dan and Sue Waterhouse for the past seven years. The bar area has been renovated a bit and the roof, which blew off in a recent storm, is being replaced.

They are open year-round, closed on Mondays, have open mic nite on Wednesdays, and do catering as well. Open for lunch at 11:30, serving dinner 4 to 9 or 10, the extensive menu includes standard pub fare, appetizers, specialty pizzas and diverse dinners. They entertain locals and tourists, snowmobilers, campers and even the occasional blogger. Warning: the Waterhouse Restaurant and Lounge may be habit forming.

Photos courtesy Sue Waterhouse.

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.

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Kim and Pam Ladd

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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