Wednesday, September 28, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Sporty’s, Minerva

A comprehensive review of Adirondack taverns would not be complete without a review of Sporty’s Iron Duke Saloon on Route 28N in Minerva. Just 35 minutes from Warrensburg, the scenic and winding trek on Routes 28 and 28N is the perfect ride by any means of transportation. On this clear September day, the trees just beginning to try on their fall wardrobe, we soon left the harried monotony of the week behind.

Utilitarian in form and structure, the log exterior and metal roof present a no-nonsense impression of practicality. The neatly kept grounds offer little in the way of ornamentation, though Sporty’s sense of humor and nostalgia are alluded to upon entering the huge gravel parking lot. A signpost stands near the road pointing the direction and distance to destinations dear to the hearts of bikers. Among them: Sturgis, Daytona, Bear Trap and McDermott’s.

Located on the former site of the Mountain View Hotel, Sporty’s has been owned and operated by Dave “Sporty” Beale for the past eight years. Sporty’s is notorious for its year-round fundraisers. The calendar of events leaves no month unturned, with several featuring multiple events. Events include lots of free holiday related foods, auctions, helicopter rides and annual car and bike shows. Sporty seems especially proud of his success raising Toys for Kids. Last year they delivered presents to 500 kids and hope to fulfill wishes for 700 kids this year.

Obviously proud of the accomplishments and popularity of his saloon, Sporty is a gracious, gregarious and friendly host, though one senses that he runs this place in a no-nonsense style in strict adherence to his rules. Not your everyday biker bar, Sporty’s self-described “tavern, museum and community center”, supports Little League and the fire department as well and proudly hosts the ladies of the local “Red Hat Society” luncheon every year. He even treats them to a ride!

Sporty’s interior is as extravagant as the exterior is spartan. Sporty’s “museum” displays scores of old license plates, bike parts, ancient tools, a gas pump, models, memorabilia, advertising novelties and hundreds of framed photographs. Vintage motorcycles are cordoned off along one wall (including an “Easy Rider” replica), with a tribute to Peter Fonda and the iconic film on the wall behind the bar. The tavern is large enough to accommodate the display of old bikes, a pool table and bar and table seating.

Our tour of the grounds in the back began with the accommodations. Several neat and simple cabins are available for $66.00 a night. Covered camping is free ($5.00 for a shower). The grassy expanse features covered outdoor seating, several dozen picnic tables, a pavilion, and a fireplace. With plenty to do besides drinking, outdoor activities include tetherball, horseshoes, volleyball, basketball and hiking trails. The steep hill a bit further back is used for bike and snowmobile climbs at various events. Attracting not only bikers, but skiers, hunters and snowmobilers, Sporty’s is like summer camp for adults, all year long. Just leave your coolers at home – all beverages must be purchased on the premises.

Sporty’s is open 365 days a year, from noon to 2 a.m. Though they don’t offer an official Happy Hour, their drink prices reflect happy hour prices all day long, with occasional specials. Guessing we won’t find Godiva martinis, beverage options are straightforward. No draft beer, but a fair selection of domestic, craft and imported beers, tiny bottles of Sutter wines, Twisted Tea, Smirnoff Ice, and soft drinks are available, as are a few flavored liquors. Known for his bloody marys and white Russians, Pam couldn’t resist trying Sporty’s bloody mary. Served in a large plastic cup and garnished with “hot pickle” slices instead of celery, Pam sounded very pleased with her drink, savoring the flavors and making yummy sounds as she sipped. When Sporty’s isn’t serving food for special events, burgers, wings, pizza and chicken patty sandwiches are served daily.

Whether visiting Sporty’s for a special event, out for a ride in your car, on your motorcycle or snowmobile, you’ll always feel welcome when you enter this remote tavern. Clean restrooms, tidy accommodations and good company on both sides of the bar can be found here year-round. Todd, another enthusiastic newcomer to Sporty’s, had come up just to watch the Buffalo Bills game, as the bars in North Creek didn’t have it on. We’re sure he’ll be back. Leave your cell phones and iPads in the car, but bring along some quarters if you think you might need to make a call. No WiFi, no cell service; but a nostalgic, fully functioning phone booth is available for use out front.

Add Sporty’s to our fave five.

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.

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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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