Almanack Contributor Kim and Pam Ladd

Kim and Pam Ladd

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.



Sunday, October 21, 2018

High Peaks Happy Hour: Valcour Brewing Company, Plattsburgh

Ulysses S. Grant drank here. Maybe. Originally built in 1838 as an army barracks for enlisted men, known as Old Stone Barracks, the grand building on Ohio Avenue in Plattsburgh is now home to Valcour Brewing Company.

Though Grant is reported to have stayed in the officers’ barracks that once stood adjacent in the mid 1800s, it’s possible he may have sat on the porch of the Old Stone Barracks swilling beer and swapping stories with the enlisted men.

Even if Grant didn’t drink here, Valcour Brewing Company can openly boast that Kim and Pam Ladd drank here – twice in one day. » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 13, 2018

High Peaks Happy Hour: Lake George Distilling Co.

MOONSHINE. In hand-painted, hastily scrawled letters, the sign implies covert activity at Washington County’s first legal distillery since Prohibition. It’s an invitation that’s hard to resist.

Conjuring images of ‘shiners lurking deep in the surrounding mountains in the dark of night, the sign may get you in the door, but the secretive allure of moonshining stops there. As John and Robin McDougall will attest, the road leading to Lake George Distilling Company was lengthy, expensive, and definitely legal.

Nearing retirement, the McDougalls were looking for self-sufficiency in a livelihood they would also enjoy. John, an experienced beer and wine maker, credits the History Channel show Modern Marvels on distilling for planting the grains of possibility. New York State’s Farm Distillery Act, enacted in 2007, allowed them to ferment. The timing was perfect. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

High Peaks Happy Hour: Bolton Landing Brewing Co.

It isn’t often a brewery is borne of a desire to live in a particular location. In most instances, a long-time home brewer’s obsession propels him or her to that outcome. Not so for Brendan Murnane of Bolton Landing Brewing Company. He knew where he wanted to live. His quandary was finding a way to make a living. Oh, and he’s never really made beer, except in a class once. So naturally he decided to open a brewery.

Brendan, who is from Westchester County, has spent summers in Bolton Landing with his family since 1988 and wanted to find a way to live there year-round. A love for the craft beer scene turned his thoughts toward opening a brewery. It was his first idea and he felt it was the perfect fit, just what the town needed. Following three years of meticulous research and planning, he came up with a business plan to do just that. His father, John Murnane, was impressed enough to become a partner. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

High Peaks Happy Hour: Ledge Rock Hill Winery, Corinth

LRH_SignsWine making in the Adirondacks dates back to early settlers who fermented wild grapes and other native fruits and berries. Grape cultivation in this region is no easy feat. Thanks however to new hybrid varieties and a greater understanding of the region’s terroir, the number of vineyards are growing.

New York State recognizes five wine grape growing regions, or American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), including the Finger Lakes and the Hudson Valley, but a group of local growers are petitioning to create an Upper Hudson AVA. Like the Farm Brewery Law, which has led to a local increase in hops and barley farming and the beer and distilling industries, an Upper Hudson AVA is expected to encourage similar growth in the wine industry. Gary Akrop, owner and founder of Ledge Rock Hill Vineyard and Winery in Corinth, is among those working toward this goal. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

High Peaks Happy Hour: BarkEater Craft Brewery, Lowville

Xavier Cordova, BarkEater's brewmaster.A brewery double-header in the Old Forge and Tug Hill regions covered nearly 300 miles and 12 hours, counting stops and tastings.

We couldn’t waste the hour-and-a-half between interviews so decided to use our time wisely and snag an elusive Happy Hour Passport stamp (and a refreshment) at the Big Moose Inn in Eagle Bay before venturing on to BarkEater Craft Brewery.

Our connection to Lowville featured a road so desolate that the disappearance of electrical service was noted for a brief period. As homes began to reappear on the 13-mile stretch of Moose River Road, we arrived at Turin. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

High Peaks Happy Hour: Fulton Chain Craft Brewing

FCCB_J&RThere is nothing better than a road trip on the Happy Hour Trail to reaffirm our belief that you always meet the nicest people in the Adirondacks. A full day of travel to interview and tour two breweries in the Old Forge and Tug Hill regions covered a lot of ground. Venturing through Eagle Bay, Old Forge, and finally to Lowville, we were met with happy, friendly faces at every turn. Without exception, whether they held the door for us at a convenience store or took time from their busy schedules to share their knowledge of brewing, every person we encountered was upbeat and friendly. Smiles on a beautiful day in the Adirondacks are definitely contagious. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

High Peaks Happy Hour: Battle Hill Brewing, Fort Ann

BattleHill_Davis&Jim_AAHappy Hour in the High Peaks is at it again! The first Happy Hour Tour had us hopping all over the Adirondack Park on a quest for the 46 bars that best represent the diversity of the Adirondacks. By popular demand, we’ve begun a new adventure discovering the craft beverage industry throughout the Adirondacks and (just a little bit) beyond. In the coming months we’ll be reviewing the area’s breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Our first hop-stop took us to historic Fort Ann. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

High Peaks Happy Hour: Alpine Grille, Hope

Alpine_ExtFor two years we sought input, but now that Happy Hour in the High Peaks is written and published, people are eager to tell us what bars we missed. Sometime in 2014, someone suggested that we visit the Alpine Grille in Wells. Pam dutifully entered it into her notes under the “bars we missed” category. Resurrected and moved up the priority list by the recent sad news that Lake House Grille in Wells will not reopen this spring, we decided to pursue the Alpine as a potential replacement on the Happy Hour Trail. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

High Peaks Happy Hour: BARRED!

IMG_9512“You’ve been Barred!” – the dread phrase contestants at the first ever BARRED! Bartender Challenge did not want to hear. Twelve bartenders from near and far showcased their talents at Basil & Wick’s in North Creek on November 15, hoping to bring trophy and bragging rights back to their bar.

The best ideas are often born when least expected. A casual Happy Hour in the High Peaks board meeting agenda listed the question: Can we do something interactive with an upcoming book reading gig? Whether through inspiration or by blatant theft, we were not surprised when the concept of a Chopped style competition materialized. Based on the Food Network’s popular reality series in which chefs are given a mystery basket of ingredients that they must incorporate into a finished dish, BARRED! would do the same with cocktails. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

High Peaks Happy Hour: Trashed & Treasure

WLGS2014 sofaHappy Hour in the High Peaks was off the wagon (in a manner of speaking) as Warrensburg’s World’s Largest Garage Sale rolled into town. Rain or shine, good cheer follows wherever we go. This time it was in the form of a Radio Flyer Town & Country wagon, converted to a portable pub carrying a cargo of Garage Sale Punch. We will neither confirm nor deny its potency. Costermongers with innocent grins, we towed our little contraption from one end of town to the other and back again. Self-declared “Yard Sale Crashers”, we pursued the Garage Sale party. Despite our attempts to blend in, the three-gallon cooler jug and plastic cups aroused suspicions. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

High Peaks Happy Hour: Paradox Brewery, Schroon Lake

Paradox_ExtFree beer – today! There’s no sign making that claim, but Paradox Brewery in Schroon Lake gives away beer samples all day long. Try one. Even better – try them all!

Located at 154 State Route 9, the Paradox Trail is well marked. A giant trail marker is tacked to the front of the log building and a roadside trailhead sign informs the distances to both the brewery and the tasting room. The brewery, a short hike of .015 miles from the edge of Route 9, occupies the ground floor. The “best climb in the Adirondacks” (the tasting room) is upstairs in the back, an additional .004 miles up, though no specialized gear is required to make the ascent. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Garrison, Lake George

GarrisonLG_extShrouded 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. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sticks & Stones, Schroon Lake

Sticks&Stones_extSticks & Stones Bistro & Bar in Schroon Lake was just a twinkle in the eyes of owners Steve Holmes and Gary Tromblee when we were wrapping up the selection of our favorite bars in the Adirondack Park. The doors opened at the same time as our book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, hit the market. We recently visited Sticks & Stones and walked away knowing they were a “High Peak” in our book. A Happy Hour MacNaughton. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

High Peaks Happy Hour: Rum Runners Weekend

RumRunners1Nearly a century ago, the bootleg trail from Canada to New York City ran smack through the Adirondacks. Bootleggers risked life and limb transporting locally distilled hooch and smugglers ran whiskey from Canada, eluding dry agents and spawning crime and corruption. Chestertown and its surrounding communities recently commemorated this period in history with related activities.

It was a damp and drizzly Thursday night at Warrensburg’s Luck E Star Cafe where the Greater Warrensburg Business Alliance hosted a 1950s-era Car Hop. Among the vendors, we hawked books and passports as the drama unfolded. Those gathered were whisked from the 1950s to the roaring ‘20s when a carload of rumrunners screeched into the parking lot and piled out of their Model A. Within seconds, the law appeared on the scene in pursuit. Smugglers scattered like rats, slipping into any hiding place they could find. Perhaps the heat considered our Happy Hour in the High Peaks booth a likely refuge for Prohibition outlaws – they were on our tent like feathers on a flapper. We decided to scram before the bulls started asking questions and we were long gone before the feds pinched Wesley, his moll Giselle, and the rest of their gang. We’re no stool pigeons. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

High Peaks Happy Hour: Drinking is Popular Again

PopularWe’re back! Winter found us sequestered at Pammy’s Pub finalizing (and editing, editing, editing) bar reviews for Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide. Add to that the preparation, primping, and posing of 46 cocktails for their close-ups, and it’s easy to see why we’ve been absent. Spring coaxed our creativity with a marketing plan and promotion schedule. Summer put us on the road throughout the Adirondacks, selling and signing wherever we were welcome.

With all that attention to detail and embellishment, the realization hit. The current trend toward drink artistry, rather than guzzling gluttony, has led to a focus on flavor and presentation. Complicated preparations, the use of local and home grown ingredients, and the almost daily arrival of spirited new flavors populating liquor store and beer aisle shelves have prompted an emphasis on savor over swill. Drinking is popular again. » Continue Reading.