Wednesday, March 14, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Oxbow Inn, Piseco

We aren’t snowmobilers. But, if we were, the Oxbow Inn in Piseco could easily be the designated last stop on the trail. They are open the latest, have great drink prices, and plenty of dinner and appetizer choices. Burgers are a notoriously popular choice. Mostly, though, they seem to be the hardest place to leave.

Like so many of the roadhouses tucked away in the Adirondacks, the Oxbow Inn is genuine and unapologetic, the interior pieced together with no particular theme in mind, spanning decades of decorative tastes. The veneer-topped bar is built on a glass block base, the floor is linoleum tile, and the walls are pine. A variety of memorabilia, humorous signs and beer advertising fill the walls and area behind the bar. A hand-painted saw blade depicts the old country inn in its serene lakeside setting.

Owned by Heather Sboto, the Oxbow Inn is one of the oldest establishments still in operation in Piseco (and Hamilton County), easily surpassing 100 years. Heather, as her youth will attest, has only been operating the bar and restaurant for four years, but seems comfortable in filling the shoes of Oxbow keepers past. With at least 14 seats at the bar, pub tables barside, plenty of dining in the back room in winter and on the deck in fair weather, the Oxbow is ready for any number of guests. As twilight fell on this warm March Saturday, there were perhaps 25 patrons refreshing themselves at the bar and several more in the dining room, though we’re told the number would ordinarily be double that were the snow conditions closer to normal.

Though they offer no standard signature drink, a Shot of the Day can be found on the drink specials board on Saturday, along with several other creative suggestions. Our offer to invent a signature drink was readily accepted and quickly renamed from slammer to martini. The Oxbow Martini, comprised of orange vodka, cranberry juice and a splash of 7-Up, proved to be a tasty beverage worthy of the Oxbow name. If that doesn’t appeal to you, Happy Hour specials offer $2.00 domestic beers from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and there are plenty of bottled and draft beers from which to choose.

Though a trendy stop on the snowmobile trail, the Oxbow Inn offers gorgeous deck views of Oxbow Lake that should not be overlooked. A game room featuring a wide variety of action can offer entertainment and shade in the summer or warmth in the winter. A jukebox played continuously and seemed willing and able to transition from rock to country music and back again. Cell service is sporadic, with Verizon reputedly outperforming AT&T.

The Oxbow Inn is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a later closing on Friday and Saturday as business demands. The Inn closes for two weeks around both Easter and Thanksgiving. The best time to visit the Oxbow Inn is any time of year. With direct access to snowmobile trails, it’s winter headquarters for snowmobilers. Though we have only seen it in winter, the deck and lake views promise equal splendor in all seasons.

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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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