Shrouded in nostalgia from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, we reviewed the old Garrison for the Adirondack Almanack in 2011 as research for our book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide.
In 2012, the Garrison closed and a “For Sale” sign went up. We weren’t surprised, but remained hopeful that someone would come along and resuscitate the iconic landmark before it was declared legally dead. When we prepared the epitaph for Adirondack bars dearly departed, we knew the Garrison would be back, so it was excluded from the RIP page in the book. Only a few short weeks ago, The Garrison on Beach Road in Lake George took a deep breath, reopened its doors, and welcomed customers new and old.
Purchased in 2013 by Beach Road Properties, and under the diligent management of Mark French, the Garrison has been revived and refreshed and is better than ever. A chef replaces a cook. Wood floors replace the smelly old carpet. Where bouncers once camped, hostesses await. Nearly everything about The Garrison Restaurant and Bar in Lake George is new – new owners, new logo, new menu, new look. It’s larger, cleaner, and more opulent. It has been given a new life. All that remain the same are the memories and the sign out front.
The Garrison makes tasteful use of a range of textures and finishes, sporting an industrial-rustic décor of complementary contrasts. Plumbing-pipe spotlights over the bar reveal the nuances of the sleek zinc top resting on a warmly stained pine foundation. Unlike stone or concrete, the zinc top isn’t cold. The long bar, now running parallel to Beach Road instead of perpendicular, seats up to 18 in sumptuous black upholstered stools. The light wood floor enhances butcher-block dining and pub tables. Natural light spills through picture windows and pendant barn lights dangle overhead. A variety of seating options promise to accommodate any party size, both inside and out.
A pool table is perfectly situated for performance playing. A jukebox is ready for tunes. An arcade-type game is tucked in the corner near the kitchen entrance. There are two small TVs behind the bar and a larger one on the wall, visible to most diners. Acoustic pads on the ceiling are designed to buffer noise. Three college pennants hang on the wall overhead, hopefully reviving the tradition from the days when a sign over the Garrison’s entrance declared, “Graduate School”.
The deck has been moved back from the road and expanded to wrap around to the entrance, but the view of Beach Road is still the same. Grass grows where pavement once permeated and the freshly paved lot provides ample parking. The chairs on the deck are so comfortable we had to peek at the tag. A “buy local” credit for the Garrison – their new Telescope Casual outdoor furniture with rock-and-swivel functionality is deck seating that will not easily be given up.
The Garrison’s casual dining menu consists of standard pub fare and a few surprises at mostly reasonable prices. We spent some time with Chef Bill Trudsoe and were impressed with his enthusiasm. Chef Bill brings experience from many well-known restaurants in the area. He has created several signature dishes for the menu, and people are already talking about the Garrison’s pork wings. If buffalo can have wings, so can pigs. Other specialties gaining popularity include the short ribs taco. The Garrison proudly announces its “buy local” standing with breads from Queensbury’s Gamble’s Bakery, meats from Jacobs & Toney in Warrensburg, and dairy from Van Aernem’s in Hudson Falls.
As with any start-up, bugs and details are worked out as situations arise. The staff is adjusting to routines, working diligently to get things just right. Mary, her first day as bartender, fielded questions about the impressive 15-beer draft selection while serving food and beverages to the handful of patrons seated at the bar on this warm, sunny day. Pam’s private drink special, the Shot-of-the-Day, has been replaced with a public offering of cosmos, martinis, mimosas and bloody marys.
Simon, the regular bartender, filled us in on all the drink facts. True to tradition, drinks at the Garrison are affordable and creative. A specialty drink runs between $5 and $8 for a standard pour, and is served in an over-sized glass. Drink prices remain reasonable so Happy Hour specials are not necessary. A pint of beer is priced between $3 and $7, depending on its ethnicity (domestic, import, or craft). A bottled beer is between $3 and $5, and generously portioned standard mixed drinks start at $4.
Much has changed for the better and the good stuff endures. The Garrison is back – Koooom!