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.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour:
Rick’s Restaurant and Pub, Willsboro

Located in what we call an “Adirondack plaza”, but known as the Willsborough Business Center, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub is unique in more than its location. Our definition of an Adirondack plaza, and we have encountered several of these business centers in our travels in the Park, is a building that houses multiple businesses but not all are accessed directly from the curb.

The Willsborough Business Center is home to a pharmacy, a bowling alley, a hair salon, several engineering and technology businesses, a bakery and, of course, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub. Enter through the business entrance and it’s one of the doors on the right. There are no windows in the doors, so you may find yourself entering tentatively, hoping you’re in the right place. » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Johnny’s Sports Bar, Willsboro

Just when we thought we had seen the best the Adirondacks has to offer, heeeere’s Johnny’s! If it were as simple as walking in with a ten-item checklist, Johnny’s Smokehouse and Sports Bar in Willsboro would be an easy ten. It isn’t, but they do have it all, inside and out.

In its infancy, Johnny’s was established by Trisha Sheehan in July, 2011 and seems well on its way to maturity. The combination of exciting and creative menu options, a wide selection of beverages, and an appealing atmosphere contribute to an overall enjoyable experience. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Old Dock House, Essex

Inspiration for this review called for Jimmy Buffett and a bold Hawaiian shirt. Unseasonably hot pre-summer 90-degree temperatures set the tone for the outdoor bar at the Old Dock House Restaurant and Marina, lakeside in Essex. As we picked our way along the walkway from the parking lot, the sight of a small boat, built into the structure, had us humming the theme from Gilligan’s Island as we approached the cheerful barn red building. » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Blue Water Manor, Bolton

If it weren’t actually life-sized, you would think you were approaching one of Charlie Wood’s fairytale buildings at Storytown. The Stone Manor Restaurant at the Blue Water Manor on Lakeshore Drive in Bolton is one of those “must see” taverns in the Adirondacks. Like a fairytale castle of Arthurian legend, the stone structure appears much older than it really is. As you make your way to the tavern and restaurant on Lake George, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cabins for rent and a variety of low-hanging trees that obscure and enhance the view of the building. The slate roof is visible here and there among the trees, but you can’t miss the medieval, arched doorway that lies at the end of the tree-strewn path.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: A Good Bar Attender

As follow-up to our popular March post, What Makes a Good Bartender, it’s time to give the customer some helpful tips on making friends in an Adirondack tavern. With 84 bars under our belts in the past year-and-a-half, we’ve learned a few things. We’re two venerable ladies that don’t look like we belong anywhere; yet we almost always manage to fit in. While most Adirondackers are not, by nature, predatory, they have been known to be territorial. Following some simple rules should help in acculturation.

RULE NUMBER ONE. Don’t be an a$$#@*! It will only raise hackles. (Note that rule number one applies to both a good bartender and a good bar attender.) » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
Wednesday, June 6, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Lake House Grille, Wells

First impression: whimsy with a side of humor. We noticed first the patio in front of the Lake House Grille in Wells. Partitioned from the sidewalk by a fence of varying height – lower in front to allow observation of passing cars and pedestrians; higher on the driveway side, the taller fence has windows built in.

Might sound odd, but it’s actually very quaint; sheltering but not isolating. Within the enclosure, three metal tables with umbrellas to protect from fickle weather and several Adirondack chairs (the only Adirondack style on the premises, with one other minute detail which we will get to later) for dining, relaxing or listening to the music from within. Signs in the entrance offer fair warning that the Lake House Grille accepts cash only, but that an ATM is on premises. Other posts advertise upcoming music events. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Hague Firehouse Restaurant

The staff outnumbered the patrons when we arrived at the Hague Firehouse between 4 and 5 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. The two bartenders on hand seemed to be more than enough for two men on one side of the bar and two women on the other. We chose two seats in the middle of the horseshoe shaped bar. A couple took refuge in the shade of the deck, enjoying the soft murmur of the surrounding trees and the brook below. Waitresses gathered in a far corner, taking turns between preparation and conversation. A summery breeze gently wound its way through the open front door, flirted with patrons, and escaped out the back through the sliding glass door in the wall of windows leading to the deck.

The gunmetal grey cinder block exterior and barn red garage doors give the impression that the building has not undergone much change from its former life to its reincarnation. One step inside puts that assumption to rest. » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
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. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Recipe Day!

Having conquered, or at least challenged, a fair number bars (80, to be exact) within an hour-and-a-half’s travel, most that remain involve overnight trips and both exhausting and exhaustive pub crawls. We have arrived at the beginning of the selection process as we continue the final push for finding the 46 best bars inside the Blue Line. For those of you who have recently begun following our bar reviews, there is indeed a purpose. Our goal is to find the 46 “High Peaks” from among the pubs and taverns located inside the Adirondack Park, as well as 46 Adirondack-themed cocktails for inclusion in our book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks. » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Essex Inn, Essex

The town of Essex has a coastal New England charm, from the centuries old brick homes and diagonal street parking, to the waterfront buildings in colors to rival the Atlantic coast. The Essex Inn, grand in comparative scale to the federal and Greek revival style architecture that defines the hamlet, is the centerpiece of Essex. With a full-length front porch, imposing white columns and freshly painted yellow siding, the Essex Inn’s cheerful facade is warm and inviting.

Management of the 200-year-old Essex Inn was undertaken by Gladys and Josh Archer in 2010 after it was meticulously renovated and restored in a year-and-a-half-long process by Rick and Karen Dalton, who initially purchased it to house the College for Every Student (CFES) organization. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: North Country Club, Keeseville

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.


Kid next to water
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Newcomb House, Newcomb

We heard muffled voices in barroom debate as we entered the Newcomb House. As the bartender hustled our way with her cheerful smile and greeting, we took a seat at the end of the bar, a spot we find best suits our need to observe, and settled into the beverage selection tête-à-tête.

As we admired the unique bar top, the six or seven men occupying the far end, one next to the other, stole curious glances at us. We did the same. They seemed paired off – talker, listener, talker, listener. With seating for up to 14, the bar was comfortably occupied. Christian, the bartender, seemed to know each of them, but it was difficult to discern whether they all knew each other.

The Newcomb House barroom is sufficiently sized with room for a pool table, a built-in bar on a far wall, darts, scattered tables, a juke box and a little alcove for entertainment, with open floor space for dancing or just general milling about. In the subdued natural light from various windows and indoor lighting and fan fixtures, we quickly noticed how clean the Newcomb House is. The paneled ceiling and the butcher-block bar top’s alternating strips of stained hardwood fairly glow and the linoleum-tiled floor is spotless and shiny.

Owned by Mike Garrand, The Newcomb House has been in operation for 21 years. Christian tells us that Mike is an avid outdoor cook and enjoys putting on pig roasts and cookouts for such events as Customer Appreciation Day, a Teddy Roosevelt commemoration, and for various fundraisers to benefit Toys for Kids. A year-round destination, the Newcomb House is well known as a poker run stop for motorcycle and snowmobile clubs. As a popular spot for bikers, campers, hunters and snowmobilers, our visit in April was probably the only lull in activity they get all year. Given the fact that the Newcomb House only closes on Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, it’s admirable that they are able to keep it clean somewhere between closing hours anytime after 10 p.m. and re-opening between 11:00 a.m. and noon daily. In Newcomb, with a permanent population of around 500, and a few hundred privately owned camps, it’s also the only game in town.

They offer no Happy Hour or other drink specials, but their prices are befitting Happy Hour all day long. Well drinks and domestic bottled beers are in the $2.50 (Genny Light, the house favorite) to $4.00 range. Draft beer is not an option, and the liquor selection is no-nonsense. We didn’t see any Grey Goose or flavored vodkas, though there is a varied array of schnapps flavors.

Like the liquor lineup, the food menu is simple. Pub fare consisting of pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches and appetizers are available at very affordable prices. At 6 p.m. on Thursdays, patrons can enjoy a full home-cooked dinner for just $7.00. Just looking for a snack? Pickled delectables from the Adirondack Pickle Lady bathe in brine in huge jars behind the bar.

Park policy, the hiking permit debate, and Winchester rifles were among topics steadily bantered between patrons. Kim, not one to mind her own business, interjected her agreement to a comment. If you’re going to butt in, it’s always best to be agreeable – at least at first. Soon we were down at the other end of the bar, talking about our mission, handing out our cards, and trying to convince the skeptical clientele we were not up to evil doings.

The Newcomb House is one of those nondescript hometown taverns you’ve driven past a hundred times, maybe wondering if you should stop in. To the inexperienced, a strange bar can be intimidating. To a couple of seasoned veterans like us, it’s all in a day’s work. If you’ve passed by the Newcomb House once or on numerous occasions and wondered if you should stop in, Happy Hour in the High Peaks encourages you to do so.

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.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Basil & Wick’s, North Creek

The banner beneath Basil & Wick’s trail marker sign read Roadkill Throwdown. To the uninitiated, Throwdown is a Food Network show in which chef Bobby Flay challenges a chef in preparing a specific food. Throwdown in North Creek? How did we not hear about this? And what roadkill would be coaxed into fine cuisine? We were on our way to Long Lake for Happy Hour, but vowed to stop in on our way back through, hoping we’d see Basil & Wick’s chef Chuck Jennings take Bobby down. » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Pub on 9, Bolton

Having only been open since January of 2012, the Pub on 9 is the youngest pub we have had the privilege to review. So far, they seem to be doing everything right. Located south of the village of Bolton Landing, the Pub on 9 is on Route 9N, or Lake Shore Drive, between Diamond Point and Bolton. Operating as the Wooden Barrel in past years, new owners Bob and Noelle Schwab eagerly wait to see what their first summer will bring. Set back a comfortable distance from Route 9N, with plenty of parking, a large deck offering sunshine or the shade of table umbrellas, the pub is a perfect spot for entertainment, indoors or out.

The bartender, Jon, is an enthusiastic, attentive, personable (and did we mention very handsome) guy with tireless energy and humor. His animated nature and quick wit kept us amused as he exchanged barbs with another patron, who asked that we not divulge his affiliation with the aforementioned bartender. He also told us a little about his participation in the Fire Tower Challenge, suggesting it as a theme for out next book. Hmm… The Firewater Challenge? We chatted with Noelle, who took a break from her daily chores to talk about the pub’s future plans.

Currently open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m., the Pub on 9 will add Wednesday and Sunday this summer, and plan to continue with Sunday operation through football season. This year they closed for the month of March and anticipate closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The generous dance floor rocks with musical entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, and Noelle hopes to add a Karaoke Night on Wednesday nights for the summer, as well as live music on the deck when weather permits. The deck currently offers picnic table seating, but will have patio tables in the summer season. Suggesting that the cook probably doesn’t have much of a social life, the kitchen usually stays open until just before the bar closes, so don’t be afraid to stop in for a late-night snack. The restaurant will also be offering delivery to nearby motels this summer, something that is sure to boost their notoriety.

The Pub on 9’s huge (by our standards) three-sided bar seats 24 and is stocked with all of the necessities: an abundant draft beer selection (10 flavors!), coolers full of bottled beers, and much more than the basics on the liquor shelves. Pine predominates, from walls to ceiling. The spacious floor plan flows seamlessly from bar to dining to a large game room, creating separate but inclusive spaces throughout. Three TVs suspended stadium style above the bar allow viewing from all sides and there’s another in the game room. The 70-inch monster flat screen may be best viewed from a comfortable club chair in the dining area, but can be seen from pretty much everywhere. The atmosphere is simple, clean and spacious. Decoration mostly consists of mirrored beer advertisements and a neon Welcome to Bolton sign (which Jon took pains to point out, so we felt we should mention it). Happy Hour is from 5 to 6 p.m. daily with $1.00 PBR drafts, $1 off well drinks and 1/2 off appetizer pricing.

Already known for the hand cut fries and homemade soups, the menu also features signature specialties, the 9 Burger and the 9 Dog. Plenty of options are available on the menu and range from $7.99 to $12.99, but they already expect to expand their summer menu. Hopefully they’ll be breaking out the blenders too for margaritas and daiquiris on the deck. Pam suggested adding a nine-shot cocktail (the 9 on 9?) as a signature bar offering.

It’s difficult to describe a bar based merely on having had a good time. From Jon’s greeting as soon as we walked in, to introductions to anyone else who entered or passed through, we were made to feel like invited guests and familiar friends. As the conversation turned to the mild weather and early emergence of mint and rhubarb, we swapped drink recipes (our Rhubarb Margarita) with celebrity bartender Kate (her Summer Squeeze). Kate, of Frederick’s in Bolton Landing, offered her endorsement of the Pub on 9 as a keeper, and a definite contender for the top 46. It’s places like this, where drink recipes are exchanged and rhubarb plants are procured, that remind us that the Adirondack region is just one big neighborhood.

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.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Adirondack Hotel, Long Lake

Even if there weren’t a gift shop lined with books of local interest, the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake would be a contender on our list of the “46 High Peaks” bars in the Adirondacks. The hotel, with its rough slab siding, gabled shingle roof and sprawling porches stands overlooking Long Lake, separated only by a two-lane road. The original hotel opened in 1879 as Kellogg’s Lake House, which was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt and opened as the Adirondack Hotel in 1904. Surviving devastating fires and, most recently, the flood of 2011, the Adirondack Hotel still speaks of its original grandeur in a place where its history, and its people, endure.

Accosted by wildlife of impressive proportions, we were greeted by a six-foot-tall black bear on the left as we entered the hotel, and a moose head overseeing check-ins at the antique hotel reception desk. The bear was shot in Long Lake in 1978; the moose head hangs on the wall at what would be its actual height were the body still attached, its antlers just touching the ceiling. Victorian antiques accent the light and airy sitting and dining rooms. Simple, two-bulb pendant chandeliers suspended from white painted tin ceilings cast their light on several Adirondack paintings, including two portraits of Noah John Rondeau, famous hermit.

We stepped from the worn linoleum tiles to the aged hardwood floors of the Tap Room, tucked away in a far corner of the hotel, and were enveloped in the history of the bar at the Adirondack Hotel. Rustic and dim, the rough pine walls, polished bar, and rich, dark barstools presented contrast to the sunny lobby and dining areas. Peering from between three televisions, the taxidermied eyes of many animals looked on. Hoping we didn’t appear as glassy-eyed, we approached without caution as the bartender’s eyes locked ours. Warmly greeted by Colleen, we surveyed the options and ordered the 74th first drink of our quest. Offering a diverse microbrew selection which varies seasonally, the Adirondack Hotel’s signature drink is the modest but well appointed draft lineup: Switchback Vermont Ale, Lake Placid Brewery Ubu, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Harpoon IPA, Budweiser and Coors Light. Standard liquor and bottled beers are also available, at about average prices. Happy Hour is when you’re there, but no special pricing applies.

The Tap Room can seat approximately 30 people. A deck off the bar, overlooking the lake, has a variety of seating options for fair weather overflow. Although bar service is not offered outside, drinks are welcome on the deck and on the front porch. The front porch offers six rockers, four tables for two, two tables for four and two picnic tables on the grounds.

Colleen imparted the following facts pertinent to our research. The Adirondack Hotel is open year-round. The Tap Room closes for Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, but the hotel remains open. The Tap Room hours of operation are generally from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. with closing extending later as dictated by the season and the number of patrons. Entertainment is featured throughout the year in the form of open mic night and a variety of musical entertainers.

Carol and Carmine Inserra have owned the Adirondack Hotel for the past 21 years. We had an opportunity to meet Carol, a lovely and gracious woman with a relaxed and pleasant demeanor. She shared with us some of the hotel’s history, as well as the story of how it came into her and her husband’s possession, starting with a phone call on April Fools’ Day. Carmine handles most of the maintenance himself, but is rumored to take as much interest in the chicken and ribs barbecue he hosts every Wednesday and Saturday all summer long. The hotel offers 18 rooms, an apartment and a suite; some with private bath, and none with phone or television, though a television can be found on each floor in the common rooms. Cell service and open WiFi are available for those who want to stay connected.

The bar entertains locals all year and tourists in summer and winter, and lists Helen Keller, Jack Dempsey, Mick Jagger and Mickey Mantle among its famous visitors. According to the Adirondack Hotel’s website, “Before you leave, everyone will know your name.” We had the opportunity to meet two locals. We don’t know if they caught our names, but Mike and Bill highly recommend the Tap Room at the Adirondack Hotel. So do we.

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.



Kid next to water

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