Wednesday, May 23, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Sport Island Pub, Northville

Looking to expand our research to the outer reaches of the Adirondack Park, we set the GPS for Northville and opted for the scenic route through Stony Creek to Sacandaga Lake. Low speed limits and even slower drivers allowed us a leisurely opportunity to observe the views around the Sacandaga and glimpse the lakefront homes. Sport Island Pub, our targeted destination, proved to be easy to find. Its lakefront location, barely off the beaten path, is surrounded by summer homes. Decks on two levels visible from the parking area, wood sided with three dormers poking through the roof, the textured cinder block building left us curious about what we would find inside.

Greeted by a hostess upon entering, we waved her off and headed straight to the bar. The partially occupied horseshoe-shaped bar, of gleaming pine, with overhead custom oak cabinetry, glasses suspended in decorative archways, is the focal point of the room. With an unfinished hardwood floor, wide rough pine walls, a two-tone post and beam ceiling, and a stone fireplace, the interior exhibits a simple but striking rusticity while natural toned arrow-backed Windsor chairs soften the edges.

Admiring the nautical appeal of the circular brass draft beer pours which stand center stage at the end of an island within the bar, Kim made her selection immediately – a Saranac Blueberry Blonde – from among ten choices. Pam, as usual, needed more time. With no signature drinks offered, the bartender happily volunteering to make whatever Pam wanted. Pam pulled out her cell phone, searching the Happy Hour in the High Peaks help desk (our blog) for an appropriate recipe, finally settling on the Boreas Pond, a melon-based beverage she felt befitted her mood. She passed the recipe on to the bartender.

Raising the curiosity of bystanders, the bright green concoction prompted questions. Soon we were explaining our mission, sharing recipes, and receiving a rather extensive list of other places we should visit in the park. Wraeann is an avid snowmobiler, has covered most of the Park on her trips, and seems to know a lot about the bars we have visited and many we have not. Mark (aka Stormcat), an attorney with a degree in molecular biology, is fairly new to the region, but seems to know a little something about the underground bar scene in the area. We look forward to being enlightened.

A capacious open floor plan in the bar and restaurant area offers a variety of seating with booths along the walls and several large tables in the center seating up to eight each, with plenty of space in between them. A little wandering reveals a continuation of the bar into the fully windowed sunroom overlooking the lake. The bar in the sunroom seats 12 while the main bar accommodates another 16 patrons on comfortable padded stools. The sunroom offers a variety of table options, all with a view.  Off the sunroom is an outdoor deck with six more tables for dining or drinking with companions.  A word of caution: the Sport Island Pub’s deck has a live webcam, with viewing from its website. If you prefer not to have your whereabouts public, choose seating away from the carved bear. Though not immediately noticed, we learned there were also six beachfront picnic tables for less formal seating by the lake. An additional room is located upstairs for private parties and includes its own deck as well.

An ATM is on site, as well as several electronic games in the sunroom.  We counted four TVs and two Quick Draw monitors, strategically placed. WiFi is available as is fully functional cell phone service. Another turn around the exterior revealed a sign reading Lions Meet Here Wed. Gotta trust the Lions to know where to gather. Though parking in the immediate vicinity wasn’t proportionate to the capacity within, the owner, Anthony Lanzi, pointed out that there were several public parking areas nearby.

Anthony, owner of the Sport Island Pub for the past 16 years, is a gracious host. He also owns another club, Lanzi’s on the Lake, in nearby Mayfield and still within the Park. Looks like we’ll have to get back to the Northville area to continue our quest. The bar and restaurant are open Wednesday through Sunday between Labor Day and Memorial Day, and daily at 11 a.m. for the summer season.  The Sport Island Pub is both a summer and winter destination with plenty of activities for any season.  A Mexican Night special, Coors Lite drink specials, radio station hostings, motorcycle races, and ice fishing are just a few of the attractions offered throughout the year. Musical entertainment is featured regularly throughout the summer.

Soon after informing us that the pub is known for its Mojitos, Anthony surprised us each with a sample, complete with his homegrown mint sprigs. Pam has professed to dislike Mojitos, but quickly changed her mind after trying these. Thank you, Anthony, for expanding her drink horizons and Tucker, for the expert preparation! Be sure to try one when you visit Sport Island Pub, particularly if you think you don’t like Mojitos.

Sometimes a forgotten or overlooked region of the Adirondack Park, the Great Sacandaga Lake patiently waits to be noticed. Unlike many of the resort towns of the park, this area is not overrun with great throngs of people and heavy traffic. The pace seems to be more in line with what a vacation is supposed to be.

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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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