Posts Tagged ‘Liquor – Beer – Wine’

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Belvedere, Saranac Lake

We discovered this unfinished review while compiling stats for our annual report and wondered how it had gone unfinished for so long. We visited the Belvedere Restaurant on the recommendation of patrons at Grizle-T’s as part of an August (hence the kayaks) day trip to Saranac Lake. Our holiday hiatus will be over next week, when we’ll be back on track with a new venue and perpetually unbridled enthusiasm for our subject.

The Belvedere is a restaurant with a bar, but has the potential to be a bar with a restaurant at any given moment. Patrons are apt to come in for a meal, but stop at the bar for a drink first and stay for more than one before dinner. The bartender might have to take the blame for that. His genuine, comfortable manner made us want to stick around longer than we expected.

The bar offers a modern array of choices while maintaining the old classics. One might be inclined by the atmosphere to select something more nostalgic and simple like a martini, a rye and ginger, or the lost-but-not-forgotten whisky sour. Spying the flavored vodkas, a twinkle appeared in Pam’s eye as she spotted the grape vodka. She never seems to have any idea what to drink as Kim makes her predictable survey of the sparse selection brews on tap. Not stricken with a bout of creativity, Pam helpfully instructed Bob the bartender, a 20-year veteran of the Belvedere, on the proper proportions of a grape crush, a Barking Spider specialty and Pam’s go-to beverage when unimaginative. Draft beers available at the time of our visit were Long Trail Ale, Blue Moon and Molson Canadian. An additional 18 or so bottled beers include most of the popular domestics along with the more interesting Peroni and Duvel. Several sparkling, white and red wines are available by the glass for between $4.50 and $6.00 a glass; $14.00 to $16.00 for a half carafe.

To get to the ladies’ restroom, one must pass through the dining room. Even if you weren’t visiting the Belvedere for a meal, the smells that greet you, seafood on this particular evening, will be very hard to resist. We could picture wives returning to their husbands at the bar, pleading with them to move on to the restaurant, the men reluctantly following, beer pints in hand. The Belvedere’s Italian/Continental menu features a wide variety of pasta, seafood and carnivorous offerings, priced between $13.00 and $22.00, but the bar prices are somewhat lower than what we’re used to, and that’s really why we’re there.

Depending on where you gaze, the Belvedere has the appearance of being frozen in time, somewhere between 1950s and the 1970s. A classic ’50s refrigerator squats behind the horseshoe-shaped, formica-topped bar. Oak cabinetry and pine-paneled walls add warmth between the slate floor and low suspended ceiling. A pool table occupies the center of the room and three booths provide seating away from the bar. There is a separate area outside for smokers, distinctly set apart from the entrance, allowing a comfortable smoke to be enjoyed with your drink at the risk of offending no one. Deck seating is available, though parties of more than six will not be accommodated on the deck. No exceptions. There is comfort in the Belvedere’s non-modern motif that states “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. More comfort can be taken in the fact that, as a patron, you are not paying extra for the upgrades.

Established in 1933 and family-owned for three generations, the Belvedere has survived at least two fires and holds the second-longest continuous liquor license in Franklin County. We’re not sure who holds the number one spot, but intend to find out! Located in a residential area just outside Saranac Lake’s business district in a two-story frame house, the Belvedere is a friendly home-town bar where all are welcome. Drink prices are reasonable, the bartender is personable and the patrons are friendly. The Belvedere is open at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Call to confirm hours of operation. Just leave your credit cards at home – the Belvedere accepts cash only.

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, December 28, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: 2011 Annual Report

What began as an offhanded remark while on a Tennessee road trip has culminated in our quest for the best bars in the Adirondack Park.

Pam innocently inquired whether the Adirondack mudslide, her own creation, actually already existed. Kim, chief navigator, fact-finder and Google junkie, immediately launched a search. When her query yielded no valid results, we began the crusade to put it on the map, so to speak. Before we reached our destination, the idea had grown from one tasty cocktail to a year-long (and continuing indefinitely) pub crawl. Happy Hour in the High Peaks was born. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spirited Adirondack New Year Beverages

Often you’ll find bartenders creating inspired cocktails – using seasonal ingredients, herbs from the garden, and from-scratch syrups that range from the simple sugar to berry purees – usually a nice complement to the restaurant’s menu offerings.

While this isn’t a post to encourage drinking, it is one to think about flavors we associate with the region and the season – like cider, maple, cinnamon, nutmeg – in the form of beverages, non-alcoholic and hi-test, warmed or refreshingly cold.

A raised glass to all Adirondack Almanack readers and safe travels – and many thanks to our designated drivers! » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour:Witherbee’s Carriage House, Schroon Lake

Witherbee’s Carriage House Restaurant, on Route 9 in Schroon Lake, is a bar, restaurant and a museum of local history. From the display of various wagons and wheels surrounding the structure to the collection of wheeled conveyances inside, the title “carriage house” is an understatement. There’s even a little red Gore gondola hanging on the building! With so many antiques, farm implements, Adirondack region memorabilia and assorted other wonders, it was hard to focus on our mission.

The bar is located in the loft upstairs, and even the stairs, solid and obviously aged, spoke of times of true craftsmanship. Kim’s attention was immediately drawn to the vast collections occupying every barn-board wall, corner, crevice and rafter. Old photographs, woodworking tools and vintage advertising adorn the walls. Suspended from the beams above, unbelievably, are an antique carriage, a harness sulky, a sulky hay rake and a Victorian highwheel bicycle. The loft is open, spacious, well lighted and, while packed full with “stuff”, appears uncluttered and notably dust deficient. Witherbee’s closes for its annual Clean-up Close-down two weeks before Thanksgiving in order to give the place a thorough scrubbing and general sprucing up, something we feel more establishments should consider.

It was the drink specials board that caught Pam’s attention, boldly offering the Pamatini. She knew what she was having to drink! The Pamatini, consisting of pomegranate vodka, cranberry juice and lime, turned out to be a misspelled Pometini, but that didn’t spoil Pam’s enthusiasm or the cocky swagger in her attitude when she discovered a namesake cocktail. Two other drinks were featured, namely the Moose Milk and the Nut Cracker. The Moose Milk is made with Jameson whiskey, maple syrup and milk, and is very popular at Witherbee’s. The Nut Cracker is vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s and Frangelico.

Patty and Bill Christian have owned Witherbee’s for four years. We had the pleasure of meeting Patty and the bartender, Amanda, who filled us in on some of the history of Witherbee’s. Converted from a barn that was part of the Edgewater Resort, the restaurant was originally known as Witherbee’s in the 1960s, then Terrio’s for 28 years. When Patty and Bill bought it, they felt a nostalgic need to restore the original name. We commented on the vast collection on display and Patty told us that they had to remove several truckloads of similar items. It was hard to imagine there having been even more.

Witherbee’s attracts a variety of clientele. It’s a favorite of locals, summer people and those just passing through. Friday night bands bring in their own fan base, fundraisers draw locals, open mic night rounds them up from as far away as Lake Placid and Ballston Spa. Witherbee’s even has its own song, written by local musician and open mic night host Mark Piper, called Witherbee’s Blues. As we were concluding our observations and interview, a man and woman joined us at the bar. The man, eyeing us strangely (we get that sometimes) and with a glimmer of recognition, said he knew us. Never having been recognized in this particular role, we were pleased to finally make the acquaintance of the North Country and Hudson Valley Rambler, Joe Steiniger, local food and wine blogger extraordinaire. Joe was one of our first fans and, to show our appreciation for his support, he was crowned with one of our few remaining Happy Hour in the High Peaks hats.

Witherbee’s Carriage House Restaurant is well-known for its Big Ass steak and homemade soups, as much as for the Moose Milk, and all of the restaurant menu items are available in the loft. We shared a heaping plate of nachos, one of the most generous portions we’ve seen. The main restaurant area is downstairs and is smaller and more intimate. The bar seats 9 to 10 people, but the large upstairs has a dozen additional tables for relaxing or dining. A pool table is comfortably out of the way.

During the summer, Witherbee’s is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to close. During the winter, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday, and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They host an open mic night every Thursday and feature live entertainment every Friday in the summer and every other Friday during winter months. Witherbee’s hosts fundraisers, holiday parties and even a Murder Mystery dinner. Happy Hour specials from 4 to 6 p.m. feature $3.00 drafts, but weekly themed drinks are available anytime. The snowmobile trail system leads right to the back door and riders have been known to fill a thermos with Moose Milk before mounting their sleds. Witherbee’s is open all year except for New Years Day, Easter, the two weeks before Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Add Witherbee’s to the list of not-to-be-missed.

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, December 14, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Friends Lake Inn, Chestertown

We pulled into the gravel parking lot on this sunny winter Saturday, not sure what to expect from the Wine Bar at Friends Lake Inn. The first sight to greet us was a stream tumbling gently over rocks just outside a tiny structure we later learned was the sauna. A tiny footbridge traversed the waterfall where the stream began a steeper descent. Approaching the main building, screened balconies and seven gabled dormers emerging from the cedar shake roof of the inn’s modest grey clapboard exterior, we were greeted by one of the inn’s arriving employees who entered with us and pointed the way to the bar. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Black Mountain Lodge, Johnsburg

The Black Mountain Lodge is a motel, restaurant and bar located just minutes from Gore Mountain on Route 8 in Johnsburg and just around the corner from Peaceful Valley Road. The restaurant and tavern are located in the center of the strip of motel rooms, with plenty of parking. Built in 1953, the unassuming chalet exterior reflects that history, but the warm Adirondack lodge style of the restaurant and bar reflect recent updates. Kip MacDonald has owned the Black Mountain Lodge for the last six years and can be credited with the tasteful improvements.

Tiffany style lights and sconces add an air of sophistication and the heavy weave of the textured moose-themed curtains enhance the Adirondack flavor. Three-quarter pine paneled walls are accented by painted upper walls in a muted persimmon shade. An upended canoe suspended above the bar serves as overhead glassware storage. The stone fireplace, centered between the restaurant and bar, adds warmth to all patrons. Rustic pub tables provide seating beyond the dozen barstools at the bar. The angular, C-shaped bar is made from a pine slab with rough bark edges and occupies the back end of the restaurant. A deck off the back of the bar offers outdoor seating for up to 12 people in the summer season. A collection of 50 or so caps adorns the wall and ceiling near the bar. The story goes that one person tacked their cap on the ceiling and it just snowballed. Not to be excluded, we left a Happy Hour in the High Peaks hat for the collection. Tasteful outdoor-themed signs and beer advertising adorn the walls, accented by a display of antique woodworking tools.

The Black Mountain Lodge is a favorite among winter skiers and spring and summer rafters. A seasonal homeowner we interviewed describes it as reasonably priced, good food and family friendly, but did note that the bar and restaurant can get very busy during ski season. No official happy hour is offered, but some drink specials are available throughout the year. A selection of flavored vodkas inspired Pam to try something new suggested by the bartender, Sarah. A few draft brews are normally available, though the taps weren’t working at the time of our visit. Kim was disappointed, but chose something from the long list of the reasonably priced domestic bottled beers. The restaurant menu includes sandwiches, burgers, seafood and home-cooked favorites like chicken pot pie and meatloaf and, for the more sophisticated, duck and prime rib.

Live entertainment on a small solo or duet scale is occasionally provided. The Black Mountain Lodge is closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but otherwise is open 7 days a week year-round, serving dinner from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. If you’re staying in the area, the motel boasts 25 no-frills, clean, comfortable rooms at a fair price.

Well known by Gore Mountain skiers, the Black Mountain Lodge almost escaped us. We’re glad it was recommended to us. With friendly, welcoming patrons and staff, it is an Adirondack venue worth a visit any time of year.

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, November 30, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Olde Log Inn, Lake George

Located just north of Lake George Village on Route 9, The Olde Log Inn is open year-round for vacationers, campers and locals from Lake George and Warrensburg. As a restaurant and bar, The Olde Log Inn is a great place to escape the bustling village in the summer, eat a nice lunch or dinner, and sit on the patio and enjoy the mountain view and late afternoon sun.

As the name implies, The Olde Log Inn is of log construction inside and out, but has been remodeled recently enough to not appear “olde”. Originally Lanfear’s Country Tavern, the business has been in existence since 1976 and owned by Mike and Gigi Shaughnessy since 1999. The glossy pine bar seats about 15 patrons and is partitioned from the dining room by a windowed half wall that doubles as a bar counter, seating six, and close to the bar. The U-shaped bar allows for easy banter back and forth across the bar, and we became engaged in several conversations during our visit. Additional seating on the patio includes four pub tables for four each and five picnic tables, all equipped with shade umbrellas for use in the warmer seasons.

The cozy interior features checked country valances over the many windows, creating a homeyness which softens the predominantly rustic log interior. Currently decked out in holiday style, the canoe over the bar is trimmed in lights. Evergreen wreaths, swags and a tree tastefully invite the holiday spirit with your spirits. Windows on three walls allow plenty of light into the space, countering competition from the surrounding pine.

A stone fireplace in the dining area warms the far corner of the open floor plan. The dining room is an intimate space with seating for about 40 in closely spaced tables with appropriately rustic chairs. The Olde Log Inn caters to a healthy lunch crowd with its tempting offerings of sandwiches, salads, burgers, soups and appetizers all at reasonable prices. Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m. Entrees include pasta, steaks, ribs and chicken priced between $13.99 and $17.99. Their full menu is available online.

The Olde Log Inn’s Happy Hour is immensely popular with locals of all kinds and is offered from 4 to 6 p.m. daily. Though no unique drink specials are advertised, a light assortment of flavored vodkas inspired Pam to create a mixed drink with a huckleberry vodka base, which she dubbed the Huckleberry Crush. A handful of beers on tap include Smithwick’s, Stella Artois, Bud Light, Sam Adams Seasonal (Winter Lager at the moment), and local craft favorites Bear Naked Ale from Adirondack Brewery and Davidson Brothers Brewing Company IPA. Most popular domestics are available in bottles. The bar is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Sunday noon to 11 p.m. The kitchen is serving lunch, dinner and light fare Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. Quick Draw is available at the Olde Log Inn as well as wi-fi so you can follow our blog or look up one of our drink recipes.

Summer tourists can find solace in the hum of traffic on the nearby Northway or perhaps a cool afternoon breeze from the patio. Campers on the other side of Flat Rock Road might find comfort in the cleanliness and hot running water in the bathroom. Snowmobilers may huddle by the fireplace to warm up and peel off some snowy layers. Local professionals and contractors can meet up with their friends, or make new friends, and seasonal workers from the village shops can hide out, leaving behind the over-stimulated parents and children vacationing in Lake George. Bikers might escape the crowds of Americade or stretch their legs after a long ride in the Adirondacks. The Olde Log Inn is a year-round destination.

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, November 23, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Burleigh House, Ticonderoga

The entrance door was freshly painted at The Burleigh House in Ticonderoga. (A neglected entrance is one of Pam’s pet peeves.) As we approached the bar toward the back of The Burleigh House, we experienced an absolute first in our many bar experiences this year – all of the patrons were women! Nope, never encountered that before. There were probably six women in all and it wasn’t the ladies’ auxillary night either. The bartender was cute and personable and male – maybe he was the attraction?

As we took a seat and surveyed our drink options, we were greeted immediately by the bartender named Luke. Kim and Luke discussed beer options but she ordered a soda since it was her turn to drive. Lake Placid UBU Ale, Switchback Ale, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and Coors Light are available on tap, and several bottled beer, malt and non-alcohol choices are offered as well. Pam readily noticed something new behind the bar, a chocolate raspberry vodka. She and Luke set to the task of designing a drink and the waitress, Barbie, soon joined them. Luke suggested a white russian variety and it was done. While Pam sipped the delicious drink, the waitress worked out a name and posted the newly born “Razz-berry Kiss” on a specials board at $3.50.

Pam sat, half listening, quietly contemplating something, while the owner, Kim Villardo, shared the history of The Burleigh House with Kim. When she pointed out an old picture of the original Burleigh House, Pam turned to it and studied it rather intensely. On the ride home later, she said that she had a sense of timelessness at the bar, like she was sitting in the original bar long ago. We tried to pinpoint what caused that feeling. Was Luke dressed in black and white, with a bow tie and cummerbund? No, but he was professionally attired in khakis and a button-down shirt. Was it the women in their fancy hats with cigar smoking men milling around them? No, they were casually dressed and still no men to be seen. Was it the ambient lighting reflecting shimmering bottles and liquids off the mirrored walls behind the bar? Yes, perhaps, and maybe a combination of factors, too much alcohol consumption not being one of them.

In 1953, fire destroyed the original Burleigh House, once an elegant four-story hotel with a bar and an orchestra downstairs. A new structure replaced the original in a simpler fashion with a bar and restaurant, sans orchestra, but there is Quick Draw and they do occasionally feature live music. Although it is no longer affiliated with the Burleigh family, the name was retained out of a love of the history of Ticonderoga.

Dozens of framed historic photographs, collected over the years by owner Kim Villardo, hang throughout the restaurant in silent retrospect. A gas fireplace adorns the pine covered wall near the bar, a vintage hand-colored and ornately-framed photograph of the original hotel hanging over the mantel. Open and spacious, with movable partitions for custom privacy, the interior conveys the impression of many rooms with distinct personalities. One area holds a pool table, a piano, and a few pub tables. A lounge in the center of the room, partitioned from the restaurant and bar with half walls, features two sofas, a piano and another smaller fireplace. The bar, with its soft, warm cherry finish, seats 15 to 20 patrons with leather stools comfortably spaced. Staff and patrons were friendly and interesting, as well as interested in what we were up to.

The Burleigh House doesn’t offer daily Happy Hour specials, but they do feature holiday drinks and a variety of spontaneous drinks like Cosmos, specialty shots and this day, and the Razz-berry Kiss. The kitchen is closed on Monday and Tuesday. The bar is open daily at 11 a.m. and noon on Sunday. They are open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

On the more trendy side, The Burleigh House has free wi-fi, a website, and a Facebook page.

Located equidistant from Lake Champlain and Lake George, The Burleigh House is a summer hot spot. Though closed for the season, a large outdoor patio out back awaits the warmer weather. Local residents, snowmobilers and the occasional off season tourists support the business year-round. When you visit The Burleigh House, and we know you want to, have a Razz-berry Kiss with Luke and take a quiet moment to see if you feel the timelessness too.

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, November 16, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Pub, Ticonderoga

Thanks to Pam’s archaic GPS, we found The Pub quite by accident. The GPS just dropped us in the middle of Montcalm Street in Ticonderoga, with no immediately visible sign of The Burleigh House (which we later found), the intended destination. We found a place to park on the street and looked up to find The Pub’s welcoming sign. Though not on our list of places to review in Ti, it certainly seemed to fit the criteria by name. We peeked through the tinted glass façade to see a well-lit, rather new looking pub, then ventured in.

Several patrons sat at the bar watching college football and chatting with the bartender. We selected a few seats at what Pam determined was a “P” shaped pine bar, and queried the bartender on beer and drink options. Though the pub offered no drinks unique to their establishment, Billy the bartender was quick to come up with a flavored vodka recipe with Whipped vodka, orange vodka, orange juice and milk. Pam found it not only nutritional, but tasty too. Several selections of both draft and bottled beers are available, and reasonably priced.

Having arrived ravenous, we reviewed the menu and opted to share nachos with beer battered jalapenos and the tidier, eat-with-a-fork boneless chicken wings. Both were delicious and served appropriately with proper fixings of bleu cheese, salsa and sour cream. “If you don’t get salsa and sour cream, might as well not get nachos,” says Pam. A modest but varied pub menu offers appetizers, burgers, wings and fries. Most items are priced between $3.50 and $7.99.

The P-shaped bar, which seats about 15, is partitioned by a wall, and we realized that we hadn’t selected the best seats for a full view of the pub. Along the wall behind us were three bar height tables and two to three more on the wall on the other side of the room. With three pub tables equally dispersed, the pub appeared ready to accommodate any size crowd. Another pair of tables in the front of the room provide seating sidewalk-side for people watching. A pool table in the back corner is perfectly situated for unencumbered play; an opening in the center wall allowing contact with the bartender from the pool table without having to walk around to the bar.

The bartender, Billy, was friendly, professional and eager to answer our questions. The Pub has been owned by his brother, Jeremy Treadway, since 2009 but, interestingly, was owned by their grandfather from the 1950s to the 1980s, when it was sold, then closed for seven years. Jeremy later bought the place, bringing it back into the family. In the ‘50s it was known as Bob’s TV Bar, the first bar with a television set in Ticonderoga. It was later renamed the North Country Pub. A Native American chainsaw carving stands guard inside the front door. It came with the bar when they bought it in 2009 and the new owners felt it should stay.

The Pub is open year-round, Thursday through Sunday, and only closes for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Though opening times vary, there is an obvious pattern easy to remember: 4 p.m. on Thursday, 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Typically the pub closes at 12:30 a.m. Summer tourists and winter snowmobilers make it a favorite venue any time of year. the pub features Happy Hour on Friday with a buy 1 get 1 special until 7 p.m. and $10 buckets of beer and food specials on Sunday. Even if you miss their specials, pricing for food and drink is reasonable off Happy Hour too.

As a common meeting place for area professionals, The Pub seems to be the type of place to drop in anytime (Thursday through Sunday, of course). They offer live entertainment two to three times per month in the winter and every Saturday in spring and summer.

An information sheet on the bar indicated that a dart league was forming for the winter. If darts aren’t your thing, there’s always pool, foosball, jukebox music, trivia night and Spin-the-Wheel Fridays for entertainment. Four TVs should cover your viewing needs during any sports season.

If on street parking is limited, the pub has a parking lot behind the building for patron use. Several general public parking areas are also nearby.

Whether visiting The Pub on purpose or by accident, for drink, for food or for entertainment, you shouldn’t be disappointed in the clientele, the atmosphere or the staff. Though we can’t speak for the entertainment, the food and drink are good too. After you’ve liked Happy Hour in the High Peaks on Facebook, be sure to visit the pub Ticonderoga, NY and like their facebook page too.

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, November 9, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Garrison, Lake George

The Garrison in Lake George, once a mecca for college students working in Lake George in the summer, or home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break, was and still is a haven for the locals. Situated on a hill, just far enough from Lake George Village, the Garrison offers security from the summer tourists as well as gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains from the deck in front.

As with many local pubs, the regulars at the Garrison welcome newcomers, but take comfort in being surrounded by their comrades. It’s one of those bars that you can visit as seldom as once a year and be sure to see someone you know, or visit for the first time and make friends you’ll see again and again.

Pam was once a regular at the Garrison in the ’80s and ’90s. Much like Norm of Cheers fame, she had her own designated barstool, at least in her mind, and, when necessary, was known to hover near it until it became available. Located at the end of the bar, in a far corner, it provided her with a view of everyone in the room, as well as a direct line to the door to see who was coming or going.

She recalls young Brian’s first days as a novice bartender, barely old enough to drink. The Garrison had been going through a number of bartenders at the time and Pam grew weary of “breaking them in”. Brian was different – curious and eager to learn. They started a game of “shot of the day”. While Pam worked her day job, it was Brian’s task to come up with a new concoction before she arrived for Happy Hour. He never knew which day she would come, but was always ready with something clever for shot du jour.

Built in 1953 on the site of Fort William Henry’s garrison, the Garrison has been continually in business since then. It fell victim to a fire in the early 1980s, but a new log structure was quickly built to replace it.

Current owner, BJ Forando, has owned it for the past 10 years. The original structure had an upstairs loft, dubbed the Koom Room in the 1960s, and the term remains on their sign. The origin and purpose of the Koom Room remains a closely guarded secret, though we suspect no one really knows. Not much has changed since then, but the carpeting, once perpetually sticky from spilled beer and cocktails, has thankfully been replaced at least a couple of times. College pennants still adorn the pine ceiling. Some, dusty and dingy, date back to before the fire, salvaged and ceremoniously redisplayed. The Garrison offers a free pitcher of beer for any pennant not currently among its collection.

The Garrison currently serves at least a dozen draft beers, mostly domestics and mass-produced specialty beers, and at least as many more in bottles, as well as malt coolers (Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Twisted Tea and Smirnoff Ice). The liquor selection is pretty standard, no specialty drinks, and the shot-of-the-day is a thing-of-the-past. Garrison Happy Hour specials, 50 cents off beer and well drinks, is offered Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. WiFi and Quick Draw are available. The bar opens daily at 11 a.m. and closes around midnight, but is subject to demand. Only seldom do they close to the public for private functions, but they do close for Thanksgiving and open late on Christmas Day.

For your amusement, activities include pool, electronic darts, arcade games, the toy claw and a jukebox. A variety of seating options can be found here. Outside on the deck, there are built in benches and a picnic table, but more seating is probably offered outside in fair weather. The bar accommodates up to 18 people. Two tables with seating for 4 each and a pub table for two are in the immediate vicinity. The restaurant, somewhat separated from the bar by a partition, features two large tables seating 6-8 each and can be put together for large parties. Several booths line the walls, accented by pendant lights above and Lake George panoramic prints. The menu is primarily bar fare – appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads all in the $5 to $10 range. Lunch specials are offered daily at around $7.95. We don’t often comment on food, but Kim found the seafood chowder delicious!

Winter is the Garrison’s busiest season and it’s the only bar in the village that’s right on the snowmobile trail, but summer months afford nice views from the deck where you can lounge for hours in the sun or breeze, listening to the drone of boats on the lake. A huge parking area lends an air of optimism and endless possibilities. Kelly, our bartender the day we visited, was pleasant, professional, attentive and friendly. No matter the season or the time of day, you are sure to feel safe and welcome at the Garrison.

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, November 2, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Melba Mae’s, Hadley

Melba Mae’s was one of the few places we visited in the wee hours of the night (9 p.m.). Although the hand painted Melba Mae’s Riverview Inn sign is a bit difficult to read, the lighted message board in front touting the weekend’s band lineup is a beacon to passersby traveling along North Shore Road near the Conklingville Dam in Hadley.

Our visit to Melba Mae’s was prompted by recommendation from people we’d met at some of the Luzerne area bars we reviewed, as well as the fact that Kim’s husband is a member of the Ralph Kylloe Band, Melba Mae’s entertainment that night. The parking lot adjacent to the inn was full, but plenty of parking was available along North Shore Road. We wondered whether that was a good idea in the wintertime. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Judd’s Tavern, Lake George

Judd’s Tavern, located on Canada Street in the heart of Lake George Village, beckons to the casual passerby as an ideal place to take a break from browsing the surrounding gift shops and arcades, duck in for a cool respite from the beach, or catch up on the day’s sporting events. A standard sports bar for locals and tourists, strategically-placed TV’s (12 in all) broadcast just about every contest that’s being televised at the moment.

The dark burgundy walls subdue the natural light spilling in through the large streetside windows. Commercial-grade carpeting and a suspended ceiling help keep this small space from being too noisy. Games and activities include foosball, a pool table and a jukebox. Judd’s Tavern isn’t large, but is of sufficient size to make it a comfortable place to meet others. Some sports bars are so big that patrons could spend hours and not speak to anyone outside their social sphere. The bar seats 16 and additional tables can accommodate another 20 patrons. This bar is more intimate and conducive to meeting and interacting with people.

Although Judd’s wasn’t very busy when we arrived, the bartenders seemed to be prepping for a busy night, stocking coolers and checking inventories. One bartender, Zack, was friendly and attentive, answering questions as he catered to the growing crowd. Pam’s first question was already answered by a sign on the wall advertising a Birthday Cake martini, a Jelly Ring Martini, the Veggie Mary and the Spicy Mary. For local-themed drinks, try a Twisted Tourist or a Sandy Bay Slammer. Other mouth-watering cocktails include the Gentleman Jack, Bazooka Joe, Orange Creamsicle and the Berry Patch shot. Pam chose the Jelly Ring Martini special, consisting of Stoli Chocolat Razberi vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur and a splash of cream and tasted remarkably like the real thing!

Draft beer choices are abundant. Several craft ales and IPA’s including Southern Tier’s 2XIPA, make an impressive line-up. Eight or so domestic bottled beers round out the beer menu. Kim decided on Purple Haze, a light, fruity wheat beer produced by Abita Brewing Company in Louisiana. A hazy, golden color with just a blush of raspberry pink, the aroma was of fruit, though the raspberry didn’t carry over much to the flavor.

Judd’s Tavern has been in business for seven years and is open from noon to 4 a.m. in the summer months, noon to midnight during the off-season, with no black out dates. The best time to visit is during the summer and on Sundays during football season. With NFL Sunday Ticket, you will find every NFL game being televised. Happy Hour drink specials are featured Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. While not a full-service restaurant, they serve food and are notorious for their wings (which, of course, are the best in town), offering 13 varieties including Wings of Fury (for which you will have to sign a waiver) and Caribbean Jerk wings, and also claim that their quesadillas are equally enticing. Musical entertainment is featured sporadically. With accommodations available all over Lake George, Judd’s caters to foot traffic in summer and in winter during the annual Winter Carnival. The clientele tends to be mostly local, but visitors are encouraged and welcome.

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, September 7, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Duffy’s, Lake George

Soon after the departure of Hurricane Irene, having taken her toll on Lake George Village, we felt that another trip to Lake George at the close of the village’s summer season was in order. Duffy’s Tavern was first on our short list. We had been there briefly on Memorial Day weekend as heavy rains were washing out numerous roads in the Town of Thurman, where Kim lives, and found it fitting that this fine summer had been sandwiched in between disasters.

Duffy’s sits in the heart of Lake George Village, not quite lakeside, between the Boardwalk Restaurant and Bella’s Deli. The exterior is a crazy jumble of multiple add-ons and materials; the upstairs deck appearing the most recent. Music was coming from above, so up the stairs we went. Duffy’s Tavern is a great venue for entertainment outdoors. The upper deck is more like a wrap-around porch than a deck. One of three bars is located on the upper deck and seats ten but mainly serves the needs of the friendly waitstaff. A bar on the ground level was moderately busy. The interior bar upstairs was closed, and people seemed to come and go at the outdoor bar on the deck.

Approximately 15 tables are available outside, with comfortable bar height seating at each. Neal McHugh of the River Rats Band played solo acoustic music at just the right volume for a busy Labor Day weekend: classic Neil Young, James Taylor, Tom Petty and lots of other great stuff people our age like to listen to. A back corner of the upper deck is designated for smokers, allowing them to participate and not offend.

Seating ourselves, we took out our notes. Before we could even get started, we were approached by a man who had seen us come in, following us to our table. Apparently, Kim bears a striking resemblance to someone named Lori from Brookfield Connecticut. Introducing himself as Frank, he seemed amazed at the resemblance and soon his companions, Kevin and Jen, came over to comment. Photos were taken like Kim was some celebrity, making her feel a little awkward, but not minding the attention. It wasn’t long before she seized the opportunity to plug our book and blog and hand out business cards as she shamelessly told our new acquaintances to “like” our Facebook page.

Duffy’s offers a variety of specialty drinks including a Mai Tai, the Lake George Iced Tea, Planter’s Punch and the Passionate Screw. The Duffle Bag appears to be a concoction of their own design, a rich and sensuous blend of vodka, peach schnapps, Southern Comfort and orange juice. Pam started with the Passionate Screw, ate all of the fruit garnishes, and moved on to try the Duffle Bag. She claims the Screw was her favorite, but is partial to garnishes. At about $7 to $8 each, they are worth it in both size and quality. A modest selection of bottled domestic beers are offered in addition to LaBatt Blue, Shock Top, Yuengling, Landshark and Bear Naked drafts. Kim ordered a Landshark lager, new to her, crafted by the Margaritaville Brewing Co. in Jacksonville, Florida. It was light, crisp and quite the perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon on the deck.

We didn’t eat at Duffy’s, but a variety of tasty-sounding appetizers and entrees was tempting, most in the $7 to $11 range, though baby back ribs or a steak or chicken and ribs combo are priced at $12.95 for a small serving or $18.95 for a large. They also have a kids’ menu.

Accommodations are available within walking distance to Duffy’s. Lake George, Shepard Park beach and the shops, restaurants and other tourist draws are also in the immediate vicinity.

Duffy’s is open from 11 a.m. to close, all year long, with three bars and live music on a regular basis. The main bar downstairs hosts live regional bands and a younger crowd later at night. The deck usually features acoustic music in the late afternoon. It’s one of those places where it’s easy to settle in, get comfortable, and not want to leave. Which is exactly how we felt, having invited ourselves over to the table with our recent new friends from Connecticut. We said our good-byes and took more pictures, each of them sporting a new “Happy Hour in the High Peaks” hat and a smile.

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, August 24, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Grizle-T’s, Saranac Lake

We had been watching the door at Grizle-T’s from outside the Waterhole for quite some time, trying to decide if it was worthy of a review. Pam reported that people had gone in, but no one ever came out. A small sign hung over the door, barely visible from across the street. Not much of a conclusion to draw from a door and a beer sign in the window. Piqued, Kim started across the street. Pam insisted she not go in there alone, and we giggled our way over, leaving our companions unattended while wondering where our nerve had gone.



Instinctively scanning the interior as we crossed the wide plank wood floor, we spotted the bartender playing a board game with a patron. We took a seat at the relatively empty bar, which seats about ten, and started looking around. No particular style of décor exists in the long, fairly narrow interior, but Grizle-T’s has a homey, “lived-in” feel to it like a family rec. room, complete with two TV’s and a pool table. Various columns support the low, beamed ceiling and beer art and photo collages plaster the walls.

Michelle, the bartender, was at our side immediately. Earthenware beer mugs hung over the bar and Kim couldn’t resist the inquiry. Pam began her interrogation. Gettin’ the facts, ma’am – Joe Friday style. Mug Club members are treated to 50 cents off drafts every day from 4 to 7 p.m. Michelle launched into the specials formula consisting of Micro Monday, 2fer Tuesday, Whisky Wednesday and Thirsty Thursday. On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, various drink specials are featured all day long. This week’s “Shots for Shark Week” were the Shark Bite and the Dead Sailor. We were surprised to learn later that Michelle was relatively new to Grizle-T’s and to Saranac Lake, given her knowledge of their specials.

Kim wandered off to look around and talk to the patrons while she decided which of the many drafts she’d like to try. On tap this day were some she had not yet tasted so started with an agave wheat – perfect for a hot summer day. John, a regular and one of Grizle T’s best promoters, recommended a Moo Thunder Stout, produced by Butternuts Beer and Ale in Garrattsville, NY. That would be next.

Games are available on loan to patrons and include backgammon, Connect 4, Guess Who, Scattergories and Phase 10. There is something about playing a game while you’re out at a bar that helps keep you focused and alert, not to mention just how much fun it is, and a great way to meet people. We couldn’t resist a stop in the photo booth to commemorate our visit. Don’t those Happy Hour in the High Peaks hats look smashing? We didn’t test it, but WiFi is available at Grizle-Ts and an ATM was found on the premises. In an effort to appease the graffiti artist in most of us, the bathroom walls are covered in chalkboard wallpaper. We left our URL, but were sure to wash our hands afterward.

Open 7 days per week, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., Grizle-T’s has no blackout dates. They offer microwave fare and the pizza shop next door actually has a window into the bar where they take and deliver orders. Several different seating areas offer additional seating separate from the bar, with pub tables at the front and another separate area at the rear. A deck off the back features outdoor seating with built-in benches and several picnic tables and allows smoking. Grizle-T’s hosts D.J. Karaoke on Friday and live music on Monday.

As we were considering leaving, Pam noticed and commented on the Fish Bowl sign offering a drink by that name for $25.00 all day, every day. The deal is a rum based drink mix served in a large fish bowl, intended to be shared. Typically it comes with straws, but glasses are available for the feeble drinkers.

Owned by Adam Harris since 2007, Grizle-Ts seems to be on the right track as an entertaining and welcoming place to go with plenty to do, a variety of drink specials and a pleasant staff and friendly patrons. This, along with the comfortable atmosphere, made Grizle-Ts our favorite spot in Saranac Lake.

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, July 27, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Big Moose Inn, Eagle Bay

The Big Moose Inn and Restaurant, located directly on Big Moose Lake in Eagle Bay was the first stop on our Old Forge Summer Tour, more aptly defined as the Old Forge Pub Crawl. Ours was one of just a few cars in the parking lot, but it was early afternoon and we had a long day ahead of us.

The dramatic view of the grand covered porch, dotted with rocking chairs and expanding outward to a vast open deck overlooking the lake, inspires a feeling reminiscent of summer vacations of years past. Several small docks on Big Moose Lake capture attention, drawing the eye along an expanse of lawn to the lake and small beach. Quiet and secluded, The Big Moose Inn has an air of sophistication and Adirondack lore, evoking a sentimental yearning for simpler times. Its timelessness captures the imagination. A novelist could come here to spend a week and leave with a finished manuscript.

Work to be done, we grudgingly entered the tavern, leaving an early summer afternoon behind. The tavern, cool and dark with walls of wood and brick, complemented the exterior charm. We half expected to see Ernest Hemingway entertaining friends in one of the booths, or John Irving alone at the bar, having strayed from his New England comfort zone.

Spot lights shone gently on the dark plank bar which seated about 14, with ample room for standing patrons too. Each of three booths on the opposite wall were illuminated overhead with Tiffany lamps; a cozy room with brick fireplace was tucked away beyond, and provided more private seating.

As Pam’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, Kim immediately pointed out the business cards adorning the ceiling. Skewered with straws, swizzle sticks and cocktail picks, the ceiling was almost completely obscured by thousands of business cards. Hard to describe because of their multitude, some of the cards were obviously yellowed with age. Though barely visible, the ceiling was tile. Mark, the most recent owner, later advised that they came with the inn; that some had been there for thirty years. He felt compelled to leave them for their nostalgic significance, despite criticism from state authorities. Can’t blame him, we would leave them too.

We took a seat at the bar and were immediately greeted by Melinda, the bartender. Upon inquiry regarding drinks unique to the establishment, Melinda offered Pam a Big Moose Manhattan, proudly laced with Adirondack maple syrup. The maple syrup sank to the bottom and Pam showed no shame occasionally enjoying it through the swizzle stick. Just good to see her sipping since this was only our first stop. A variety of flavored vodkas are available, indicating a better than average selection of drinks. Several wine, draft and bottled beer choices are also offered.

Big Moose Inn’s Big Moose Manhattan:
1 part Seagram’s VO
1 part sweet vermouth
Drizzle with real maple syrup and garnish with two cherries

Melinda was courteous, friendly and knowledgeable about the history of the Big Moose Inn, offering a book on the history of Big Moose Lake to help support our questions. She was busy tending to both the bar and the deck patrons, but still took time to alert the proprietor of our presence.

Owner Mark Mayer came out to introduce himself. Obviously quite proud of the Big Moose Inn, Mark spent several minutes sharing history, trivia, hauntings, and his family’s acquisition of the inn. Perhaps the most famous Adirondack ghost, stories of Grace Brown attracted TV’s Unsolved Mysteries several years ago.

Offering 16 rooms, the inn is open year round and entertains summer vacationers and winter snowmobilers. The Big Moose Tavern is open from noon to midnight and Happy Hour drink specials are available from 4 to 6 p.m. They do offer music on occasion, featuring solo artists. Summer and winter hours vary, but claim winter is the best time to visit. We had trouble with this proclamation, given the beautiful view of the lake, the sandy beach and massive porch and deck. The tavern is only open four days, including weekends, after the summer season.

Reluctantly, we left the Big Moose Inn in search of our next destination. One down. Seven to go. In an effort to catch up, we plan to review some of the Old Forge area bars first on the Adirondack Almanack and others on our blog. Lake Placid reviews of The Cottage, Lisa G’s and Dancing Bears have all been completed and posted.

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.