Wednesday, March 28, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Inn at Speculator

Oak Mountain for sale! That’s one of many things we learned from Patrick, the bartender at the Inn at Speculator. An enthusiastic purveyor of information about the Inn at Speculator and the community in general, he could easily be mistaken as owner.

Conversations and gossip, both political and personal in nature, volleyed around the room as we spoke with Patrick. In response to our “nearby attractions” question, we were surprised when he mentioned skiing. That led into the story about the Town of Speculator temporarily taking on the foreclosed ski area at Oak Mountain. The owners of the Inn at Speculator for the past 30 or so years, Neil and Linda McGovern, proudly sponsor community events and host fundraisers throughout the year, including Friends of Oak Mountain benefits, an ice fishing tournament in February, fish and game club events, and the local snowmobile club.

In keeping with a building from the mid 1900s, several rooms adjoin the bar area, adding more dining space away from the bar. A glass case in the front room displays gourmet dressings made there and books for sale on the history of the Inn. It appears to have once been a place to pay your tab on the way out, to get change for games or the jukebox, and may once have offered candy or souvenirs for sale. The décor is fairly nondescript, with well-worn hardwood floors, pine-paneled walls covered with photos, certificates, memorabilia, and lingering St. Patrick’s Day trimmings.

Although no children were on hand that day, there was an atmosphere of family entertainment in the past. The Inn at Speculator now entertains the adults with a pool table, foosball, electronic darts, Quick Draw, and an occasional solo musician or DJ. For the sports fan, there are three TVs in the bar area for keeping up with your favorite sport. Football, Nascar and March Madness basketball pools may help get the staff and patrons through the long winter months.

Liquor basics, a handful of draft beers, and 18-20 mostly domestic bottles provide adequate thirst-quenching options. Seasonal drinks of coffee varieties in winter and refreshing coolers in the summer are subject to the creativity of the bartender. Happy Hour includes $2.00 domestic drafts, Monday through Friday, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Open daily at 11:30 a.m., except Wednesdays, the pub room serves lunch and pub fare until the main dining area opens at 5:00 p.m. The inn is open year-round, but does occasionally close for a week in November and/or in April. Three rooms are available for lodging with special rate packages varying throughout the year. Dinner specials include the Friday Fish Fry, Prime Rib Saturdays, and a beef and burgundy buffet in the summer months.

The bar at the Inn at Speculator is patronized by locals, seasonal residents and tourists just passing through. Everyone seemed accepting of one another, whether known in the area or not. If you’re looking for a quaint, overpriced Adirondack country inn filled with antiques, bark furniture and faded sepia photographs, keep looking. Instead, you will discover a roadside rest more representative of today’s resident, the very essence of true Adirondackers, who struggle to make a living in an area that relies so heavily on tourism.

Here, icons of a playground for the affluent are replaced with countless images of friends and neighbors doing the things they enjoy like fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, skiing and participating in their customary events, in a town they love and care about. Sit at the bar with the locals as they debate park politics and banter about the everyday. And listen. Learn something, if only what it’s like to live here. Add the Inn to your list of “must visit” venues to get a real Adirondack experience and, if you’re in the market to buy a ski area, go see Patrick at the bar.

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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