Wednesday, November 23, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Burleigh House, Ticonderoga

The entrance door was freshly painted at The Burleigh House in Ticonderoga. (A neglected entrance is one of Pam’s pet peeves.) As we approached the bar toward the back of The Burleigh House, we experienced an absolute first in our many bar experiences this year – all of the patrons were women! Nope, never encountered that before. There were probably six women in all and it wasn’t the ladies’ auxillary night either. The bartender was cute and personable and male – maybe he was the attraction?

As we took a seat and surveyed our drink options, we were greeted immediately by the bartender named Luke. Kim and Luke discussed beer options but she ordered a soda since it was her turn to drive. Lake Placid UBU Ale, Switchback Ale, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and Coors Light are available on tap, and several bottled beer, malt and non-alcohol choices are offered as well. Pam readily noticed something new behind the bar, a chocolate raspberry vodka. She and Luke set to the task of designing a drink and the waitress, Barbie, soon joined them. Luke suggested a white russian variety and it was done. While Pam sipped the delicious drink, the waitress worked out a name and posted the newly born “Razz-berry Kiss” on a specials board at $3.50.

Pam sat, half listening, quietly contemplating something, while the owner, Kim Villardo, shared the history of The Burleigh House with Kim. When she pointed out an old picture of the original Burleigh House, Pam turned to it and studied it rather intensely. On the ride home later, she said that she had a sense of timelessness at the bar, like she was sitting in the original bar long ago. We tried to pinpoint what caused that feeling. Was Luke dressed in black and white, with a bow tie and cummerbund? No, but he was professionally attired in khakis and a button-down shirt. Was it the women in their fancy hats with cigar smoking men milling around them? No, they were casually dressed and still no men to be seen. Was it the ambient lighting reflecting shimmering bottles and liquids off the mirrored walls behind the bar? Yes, perhaps, and maybe a combination of factors, too much alcohol consumption not being one of them.

In 1953, fire destroyed the original Burleigh House, once an elegant four-story hotel with a bar and an orchestra downstairs. A new structure replaced the original in a simpler fashion with a bar and restaurant, sans orchestra, but there is Quick Draw and they do occasionally feature live music. Although it is no longer affiliated with the Burleigh family, the name was retained out of a love of the history of Ticonderoga.

Dozens of framed historic photographs, collected over the years by owner Kim Villardo, hang throughout the restaurant in silent retrospect. A gas fireplace adorns the pine covered wall near the bar, a vintage hand-colored and ornately-framed photograph of the original hotel hanging over the mantel. Open and spacious, with movable partitions for custom privacy, the interior conveys the impression of many rooms with distinct personalities. One area holds a pool table, a piano, and a few pub tables. A lounge in the center of the room, partitioned from the restaurant and bar with half walls, features two sofas, a piano and another smaller fireplace. The bar, with its soft, warm cherry finish, seats 15 to 20 patrons with leather stools comfortably spaced. Staff and patrons were friendly and interesting, as well as interested in what we were up to.

The Burleigh House doesn’t offer daily Happy Hour specials, but they do feature holiday drinks and a variety of spontaneous drinks like Cosmos, specialty shots and this day, and the Razz-berry Kiss. The kitchen is closed on Monday and Tuesday. The bar is open daily at 11 a.m. and noon on Sunday. They are open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

On the more trendy side, The Burleigh House has free wi-fi, a website, and a Facebook page.

Located equidistant from Lake Champlain and Lake George, The Burleigh House is a summer hot spot. Though closed for the season, a large outdoor patio out back awaits the warmer weather. Local residents, snowmobilers and the occasional off season tourists support the business year-round. When you visit The Burleigh House, and we know you want to, have a Razz-berry Kiss with Luke and take a quiet moment to see if you feel the timelessness too.

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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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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