We were pressed for time, forced to conduct our business locally, so we took a short drive to Lake George on a Monday night. Not expecting much excitement, we opted for a bar out of the tourist loop, figuring that it would be a fair representation of a typical weeknight in a deserted resort town.
For local flavor in Lake George, one need step back just one street from Canada Street to the Lemon Peel Lounge, located on Dieskau Street. Though there was no crowd to escape on a Monday night in February, we could sense the appeal of both the bar interior and the outdoor deck area for locals and tourists.
Jen, the bartender, was ready to prepare whatever drink we desired, and Pam found something new with a caramel vodka and Coke. Though beer is currently unavailable on tap due to basement flooding courtesy of Hurricane Irene, Kim found the selection of bottled beers sufficient. A modest variety of wine is offered, and drink prices are very reasonable at any time of year; even better during Happy Hour, daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Owned and operated by John and Terri Case since the late ‘80s, the Lemon Peel was originally located on Canada Street where Smokey Joe’s Barbecue is now. John and Terri moved to the present location six years ago. Once part of the historic Woodbine Hotel, the lounge occupies an old Victorian with a square tower, shingled Mansard roof, and round-top windows. Various sheds and additions have been added through the years, pieced together like an architectural crazy quilt.
The interior is just as interesting. Our seats at the bar gave us an opportunity to observe the intricate craftsmanship of the ornately carved wooden liquor shelf, obviously original to the first bar established at that location, and the centerpiece of the room. One stained glass panel depicts an urn with vines and flowers. The ceiling above the bar is inset with colorful glass bottle bottoms, backlit from above. The bar seats about 12 patrons and features new black leather-cushioned barstools.
A pool table, protected from bystanders by half-walls, is used by the Lemon Peel pool league during winter months. Two tables are available behind the pool table for players, observers, or perhaps anti-socialites. Jukebox music and electronic darts and two TVs offer additional entertainment. Our proximity to a television also engaged our attention to Jeopardy, unable to resist participation with staff and patrons. A cigarette machine is on site, a relic from the past and a very rare sight, but still functional.
The deck in front and on the side, though put away for winter, has table seating, some with shade umbrellas and some for sun worship and retreat from the summer hordes and noise of Canada Street. A tent canopy is erected each summer for protection on rainy days. The Lemon Peel does not have musical entertainment, but performances emanating from another nearby bar frequently filter over, providing relaxing ambient music while allowing conversation.
This is a cash only bar, but ATMs are available nearby. The only food you will find here are a variety of chips and a frozen pizza that comes highly recommended by Jason, one of the patrons that night.
The Lemon Peel is open daily from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. or midnight off-season and until 3 a.m. during the summer. Barring any unforeseen catastrophe, it’s open 365 days a year with no blackout dates. Free WiFi is fully accessible. On-street metered parking is free and plentiful off-season, but expect to pay and to walk during busy summer months.
This is a year-round bar that caters to locals and seasonal workers, but welcomes all. Jen was attentive and forthcoming with information about the Lemon Peel and what she knew of its history, the Lake George area and other taverns in the area. For a good, old-fashioned bar experience, the Lemon Peel is a must.
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.