Witherbee’s Carriage House Restaurant, on Route 9 in Schroon Lake, is a bar, restaurant and a museum of local history. From the display of various wagons and wheels surrounding the structure to the collection of wheeled conveyances inside, the title “carriage house” is an understatement. There’s even a little red Gore gondola hanging on the building! With so many antiques, farm implements, Adirondack region memorabilia and assorted other wonders, it was hard to focus on our mission.
The bar is located in the loft upstairs, and even the stairs, solid and obviously aged, spoke of times of true craftsmanship. Kim’s attention was immediately drawn to the vast collections occupying every barn-board wall, corner, crevice and rafter. Old photographs, woodworking tools and vintage advertising adorn the walls. Suspended from the beams above, unbelievably, are an antique carriage, a harness sulky, a sulky hay rake and a Victorian highwheel bicycle. The loft is open, spacious, well lighted and, while packed full with “stuff”, appears uncluttered and notably dust deficient. Witherbee’s closes for its annual Clean-up Close-down two weeks before Thanksgiving in order to give the place a thorough scrubbing and general sprucing up, something we feel more establishments should consider.
It was the drink specials board that caught Pam’s attention, boldly offering the Pamatini. She knew what she was having to drink! The Pamatini, consisting of pomegranate vodka, cranberry juice and lime, turned out to be a misspelled Pometini, but that didn’t spoil Pam’s enthusiasm or the cocky swagger in her attitude when she discovered a namesake cocktail. Two other drinks were featured, namely the Moose Milk and the Nut Cracker. The Moose Milk is made with Jameson whiskey, maple syrup and milk, and is very popular at Witherbee’s. The Nut Cracker is vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s and Frangelico.
Patty and Bill Christian have owned Witherbee’s for four years. We had the pleasure of meeting Patty and the bartender, Amanda, who filled us in on some of the history of Witherbee’s. Converted from a barn that was part of the Edgewater Resort, the restaurant was originally known as Witherbee’s in the 1960s, then Terrio’s for 28 years. When Patty and Bill bought it, they felt a nostalgic need to restore the original name. We commented on the vast collection on display and Patty told us that they had to remove several truckloads of similar items. It was hard to imagine there having been even more.
Witherbee’s attracts a variety of clientele. It’s a favorite of locals, summer people and those just passing through. Friday night bands bring in their own fan base, fundraisers draw locals, open mic night rounds them up from as far away as Lake Placid and Ballston Spa. Witherbee’s even has its own song, written by local musician and open mic night host Mark Piper, called Witherbee’s Blues. As we were concluding our observations and interview, a man and woman joined us at the bar. The man, eyeing us strangely (we get that sometimes) and with a glimmer of recognition, said he knew us. Never having been recognized in this particular role, we were pleased to finally make the acquaintance of the North Country and Hudson Valley Rambler, Joe Steiniger, local food and wine blogger extraordinaire. Joe was one of our first fans and, to show our appreciation for his support, he was crowned with one of our few remaining Happy Hour in the High Peaks hats.
Witherbee’s Carriage House Restaurant is well-known for its Big Ass steak and homemade soups, as much as for the Moose Milk, and all of the restaurant menu items are available in the loft. We shared a heaping plate of nachos, one of the most generous portions we’ve seen. The main restaurant area is downstairs and is smaller and more intimate. The bar seats 9 to 10 people, but the large upstairs has a dozen additional tables for relaxing or dining. A pool table is comfortably out of the way.
During the summer, Witherbee’s is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to close. During the winter, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday, and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They host an open mic night every Thursday and feature live entertainment every Friday in the summer and every other Friday during winter months. Witherbee’s hosts fundraisers, holiday parties and even a Murder Mystery dinner. Happy Hour specials from 4 to 6 p.m. feature $3.00 drafts, but weekly themed drinks are available anytime. The snowmobile trail system leads right to the back door and riders have been known to fill a thermos with Moose Milk before mounting their sleds. Witherbee’s is open all year except for New Years Day, Easter, the two weeks before Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Add Witherbee’s to the list of not-to-be-missed.
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.