The “Cocktails” sign on the side of the North Country Club Restaurant sign was a harbinger of the retro-style tavern we were about to enter in Keeseville. The windows on the interior walls as we entered the vestibule foreshadowed a repurposed building. Slate floors, a combination of wood panel and brick walls, and a green formica topped bar counter, all in good condition, confirmed our first speculation. Our first impression was one of familiarity, comfort and welcome.
Behind the bar, signs promoting the Bikini Martini and Catalina Margarita (no Rob Roys and Whisky Sours here) spoke of more contemporary times. The bartender, Shannon, young, energetic, smiling and soon joking, did too. The large, rectangular bar offered seats at least 15 patrons in sturdy captain’s chairs. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres were put out in a corner with chips, dips, crackers and cheese spread. Quick Draw and a few televisions offered entertainment, but we found the bartenders, first Shannon, then Josh, to be enough entertainment for us.
Owned by Michael and Tonia Finnegan for the past four years, the North Country Club Restaurant has been in business for at least the past 40 years. One of the waitresses, Gladys, came to Keeseville in the 1950s, and was able to fill us in on some history. The building was originally a train station, located elsewhere, but moved to make room for the highway. Once moved, it was reappointed as a restaurant and has been serving local families and tourists ever since. Gladys apparently came with the building. The North Country Club is renowned for its gourmet style pizza, and claims to serve the best pizza from Montreal to Miami. Entirely homemade, it is reputed to have been Fed-Exed to Utah and Florida. Supposedly they deliver anywhere.
Serving a variety of bottled beers, Land Shark and Budweiser are currently offered at a mere $2.00 a bottle. Several beers are available on tap, both domestic and micro, including, Yuengling, Bud, Coors, and Long Trail Blackberry Wheat. The liquor selection is typical, with several flavored vodkas and a few premium distillations. Several varieties of wine are served as well.
The North Country Club is open seven days a week all year, from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and Noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Closing time is extended one hour every day when summer hours begin Memorial Day weekend. They close only for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Happy Hour is featured daily with $1.00 draft beer, $2.00 domestic bottles and $.50 off well drinks. Cocktail specials like the Bikini Martini are available for $5.00 and change weekly, depending on bartender creativity. Maybe someday they will feature one of Happy Hour in the High Peaks signature drinks. Bring your favorite recipe and Shannon and Josh will set you up. Cell phone service is available, and access to wifi is on request. They occasionally offer live music on a small scale.
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.