Posts Tagged ‘Liquor – Beer – Wine’

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Lake Placid Pub & Brewery

The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, icon of North Country brewers and birthplace of UBU Ale, is an interesting combination of two bars. On the first level is PJ O’Neill’s. We arrived at around 1:30 p.m., O’Neill’s sign indicating it didn’t open until 4:30 p.m. Ascending the wide wooden staircase, illuminated by stained glass windows to the Lake Placid Pub, we read signs to get as much information as we could on our own. Kim commented on the windows, wondering if they were from a Lake Placid source. She later inquired and found that they were salvaged from a church demolition.


The entrance opens to a roomy span of bar and restaurant, light colored wood and gleaming bottles warmly lit by afternoon sun. Vintage posters, college pennants, and the brewery’s collection of awards and medals decorate the walls. We took a seat, taking note of the numbered beer steins dangling patiently around the perimeter of the bar, each with its owner’s name on the bottom. Kim surveyed the beer list, licking her chops as she faced the quandary of selecting only one. It was early and several more bars awaited. She opted for the ChocoWit, a Belgian-American wheat beer brewed with chocolate. Pam, always taking nutrition into consideration, had started Lake Placid Day Two with a Bloody Mary, so opted for the usual vodka and grapefruit knowing it was a good way to pace herself for the rest of the day. From her seat at the bar, Pam observed several full tables on the adjoining deck, overlooking Mirror Lake. The U-shaped bar could accommodate 16 to 18 patrons with several tables available for many, many more beer enthusiasts.

Steve, the general manager, took the time to talk with us about the restaurant and brewery and gave Kim a tour of the brewery. He even arranged a display of the brewery’s wares for Kim to photograph. According to Steve, a local distiller has plans to make gin flavored with white pine needles. Eagerly awaiting that release, Pam relaxed and enjoyed her beverage, recalling that a bottle of Lake Placid Spirits 46 Peaks Vodka had been purchased that morning for testing back at the Pammie’s Pub laboratory.

Winner of several awards, the Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company was selected as the best brewery in New York State in 2005 and 2007, and best brewery in the Hudson Valley in 2003, 2005, and 2007 by the TAP New York Beer Festival. Unable to keep up with growing demand, the brewery has expanded several times, finally entering into a partnership with the Matt Brewing Company where most of their beer is now brewed and packaged. Prices are reasonable and a tempting variety of freshly brewed beers changes throughout the year. The menu includes typical pub fare, with burgers and sandwiches in the $10 range, locally baked UBU bread and beer-inspired sauces, dressings and soups.

The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery is open all year, every day, hours changing with the seasons. Summer hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and they offer a Happy Hour special from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and a Tuesday night buy one get one free special as well. Patrons are encouraged to continue their parties downstairs at PJ O’Neill’s after 10 until 2 a.m. The brewery has been in business since 1996, but PJ’s has a longer history. Whether you choose the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery upstairs, PJ O’Neill’s downstairs, or both, you’ll find one of the finest selections of tasty brews in the Adirondacks. This is a not-to-be-missed attraction in Lake Placid.

We returned later that night to PJ O’Neill’s, a self-proclaimed “true Irish pub”. Its dark, low-ceilinged interior in complementary contrast to the upstairs, but with similar flavor – lots of wood and brick and a stained glass backdrop behind the bar. PJ’s serves the same fine Lake Placid brews that are available upstairs. According to local lore, they pride themselves on being the “local pub” in Lake Placid. You can go there, but you have to be open-minded, out-going, or just wasted. We might suggest that you have a few upstairs to warm up first. Pam offered to trade her HHHP hat with a woman wearing a straw hat, but the offer was politely declined. Pam played pool (and won) against her husband while Kim bantered with the couple next to her at the bar, visiting from Hawaii. The bartender was leery of us, tolerant and closely observant.

We didn’t stay long. It was close to 9 p.m. and we realized we were eating complimentary popcorn by the bowlful, so we wove our weary way in what we hoped was the direction of Lisa G’s for dinner. We will be reviewing Lisa G’s and other stops on our Summit Tour throughout the summer. In an effort to catch up on reviews, not all will be posted at the Adirondack Almanack. The Cottage, Lisa G’s, Dancing Bears and Straight Shot will only be posted on our blog, so check regularly. Reviews from the Old Forge trip start next week.

Cheers & Bottoms Up!

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, June 29, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Timeless Tavern Northville

Northville is one of the few places that is not on our way to anywhere else in the Adirondack Park. With overnights planned in both Lake Placid and Old Forge in the next two weeks, most places are on the way to or beyond either one of them.

The drive through Hadley and the town of Day along the Great Sacandaga Lake was alone worth the hour and fifteen minutes. Pam was on a trip to Virginia, so I flew solo on this one. However, I did allow my husband to chauffeur.

The Timeless Tavern sits on Main Street in Northville amid a row of storefronts in what appears to be a timeless town as well, reminiscent of a Look Magazine Hometown USA spread. Both village and tavern were pretty deserted, understandable at mid-afternoon, but the tavern was open, or almost open. Their hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday; closed Monday. The bartender seemed to be getting the bar set up so it may not have been quite 4:00 when we went in.

The bar area is spacious with lots of natural pine; neat, well lighted, and with simple decor. Several tables, simply and elegantly covered with matching linens, are positioned in the tavern, a few next to windows; the others far enough away from the bar to be able to enjoy dining but close enough to be in on the action. The bar menu features sandwiches, burgers, specialty salads and light entrees in the $10.00 to $12.00 range, while the restaurant entrees are all priced between $17.00 and $25.00. Flagrant Red Sox and New England Patriots fans, owner Tom’s New England accent betrayed his allegiance as we asked where the Yankees memorabilia was. We’ll overlook it.

I made an immediate trip to the ladies’ room. Contemporary and spotless but otherwise unremarkable. When I returned, my husband commented on the men’s room, uncharted territory for me. Displayed over the urinal is a glass case containing several jokes for a gentleman’s amusement, at the expense of we women, I’m sure. Doesn’t the task at hand (so to speak) require some sort of attention? How does one steady the stream while pee(r)ing around the room? Just saying.

An inspection of the beer cooler divulged at least thirty bottled brews, including six or seven Sam Adams choices alone, the usual domestics, and even Molson Golden, which we didn’t even think was still produced. Yuengling, Blue Moon, Sam Adams seasonal and a couple of others rounded out the beer list. The bar is well stocked with several flavored vodkas, Jack daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jeremiah Weed, Maker’s Mark and American Honey to name just a few.

The Great Sacandaga Lake region of the Adirondack Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and seasonal visitors, though not as commercial as other areas like Lake George and Lake Placid. The Timeless Tavern is open year round and is accessible by snowmobile in the winter. The beer is cold, the staff is friendly and the menu is varied, though a little pricey.

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.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Tavern 16 Stony Creek

A diamond in the rough? Set back from the road, porch covered in vines, (which we later learned were hops); the dirt parking area and picnic tables are deceiving. Step onto the porch and the entrance inspires curiosity. Round tables with sprawling chairs invoke a shady retreat. No sign that we noticed, just a simple number 16, embellished with scroll work, over the front entrance-way of Tavern 16.

Enter and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Upper walls on three sides are completely covered in various pieces of artwork, some originals, some prints (we’re pretty sure the VanGogh was a print), including a painting of the Sagamore Hotel, among other works by Elsie Soto, mother of owner Hank. Decorative panels beneath the bar, each one unique, are also creations of hers. The bar on the opposite wall is adorned with intricately detailed oak wood and mirrors, once bed headboards. Every glance reveals some now object of interest, painstakingly selected and collected by owners Hank and Toni. We take a seat at the bar and wonder where to purchase our tickets to this museum.

The bartender waits patiently while Pam surveys the liquor display. Oooh, pear flavored vodka, something she hasn’t tried yet. Ken suggests the pear with club soda and a splash of cranberry and Pam agrees. We are recognized by a long lost acquaintance and our story unfolds. Kim wishes she brought her wide angle lens for the photo shoot; there is so much to observe. Pam is eager to check out the bathroom and is not disappointed once she does. It’s a little gallery in there.

A pool table is nearly centered in the room, with maybe 50 trophies hanging above it and a few pool cues as well. We know the history of the family behind this tavern so we are not as surprised as some might be. Henry Soto, known as “Pop”, is a locally renowned pool shark. Reigning champions for at least the last decade, the Tavern 16 pool league, “Pop’s Pool League”, is reverently named for him. His son, Hank, has been a member of the Stony Creek Band for more than 30 years. Interestingly, neither Hank nor his father has aged much in those 30 years.

Pam begins her fact-finding dialogue with the bartender, Ken, and finds him extremely knowledgeable about the history and the everyday details of Tavern 16 – more like a curator than bartender. When she eventually learns that he was just filling in for the day, she is even more impressed. He is, in fact, more a patron than curator. In either role, Ken seems genuinely fond and proud of the establishment and its owners. The patrons, too, are quite proud of Tavern 16, its history, and the history of Stony Creek.

On a follow-up visit, it seemed everyone in the place had a story or morsel of trivia they wanted to share: “You don’t need a tattoo to fit in here.” “The jukebox has the most eclectic collection of music in the Adirondacks.” “Stony Creek has the highest number of single men per capita in Warren County.” And so on. Tavern 16 served as the Grange Hall in the 1940’s, but judging from newspapers used as insulation in the walls and dated 1865, Hank concludes that it was built in the mid-1800’s.

Ken modestly reveals that he has an interest in drink creation and shared an unnamed blend with us, which we have dubbed Ken’s Creekside Cooler until something better comes up. Jennifer, Tavern 16’s longest-standing bartender has a list of her own drink creations as well, including Sex in the Creek and the Jen-Garita, though her recipes are secret and she didn’t want to share. You’ll have to see her personally for that.

Ken’s Creekside Cooler
1 part tequila
1 part Absolut Citron
Pineapple juice

Tavern 16 is open every day, year round, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. (or later) and closes ONLY on Thanksgiving Day. Though they don’t serve food, in winter months a crockpot of something tasty and comforting is always simmering.

During the summer months, Tavern 16 hosts a cookout every Tuesday evening in conjunction with the town sponsored Stony Creek Music in the Park series of concerts. The first of this season is on July 5 at 7:00 p.m., rain or shine. They fire up the grill at about 5:30 at the Tavern 16. Food is free, but you can bring along something to share. One day a year, a Customer Appreciation Day cookout is held as well. We apparently just missed that event. Drink prices are in the low to average range, but a Saranac Pale Ale pint was a little pricier than most places we’ve reviewed. Don’t let that stop you though. Just experiencing this tavern is worth it.

Several bikers came in while we were there and Pam couldn’t resist a little friendly taunting. Yes, Pam would have to taunt the bikers! They offered some information about other bars in the Adirondacks that we must visit, gave her more insight about Sporty’s Tavern in Minerva, and eventually headed out. Probably wanted to get to a WiFi hotspot to check out our blog on their iPhones or Blackberries.

This is a “must see” tavern. Next time you are in Stony Creek, stop in, but put your transition lens glasses in your pocket for a few minutes before entering. You’ll find a warm, welcoming staff, a friendly bunch of locals who like to tell stories, and probably a visitor or two. And be sure to mention Happy Hour in the High Peaks if you run into Ken or Hank.

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.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: George Henry’s Warrensburg

It’s difficult to review an establishment this familiar. With no first impression with which to develop a theme, a last impression will have to do.

George Henry’s in Warrensburg has come a long way from its heyday as the Warren Inn, where we were occasionally allowed to sit at the bar and have a soda with our mom when we were kids. It’s as much a restaurant as a bar now and seems to invite tourists as well as locals. Originally called the Warren Inn after an actual inn that once occupied the corner of Schroon River Road and Main Street, it changed hands some time in the 1980s and was renamed the Brew & Stew (the Brew & Stew sign now hangs inside), and finally George Henry’s, named after the current owners’ father and grandfather, George Henry McFarland.

The interior of George Henry’s dining room is spacious, with tables comfortably distanced from one another. Wide plank floors and pine walls in the dining area create a somewhat rustic, no-frills appearance. The restaurant area is sufficiently separate to drown out the noise and to protect your children from the barside banter.

The bar seats about 20 people, with ample room for standing too, with a few bar height tables for overflow. Blackboards advertising food and drink specials hang in both the dining and bar areas, and several TV’s featured a variety of programming including Jeopardy, news, and a Yankees game. The tavern area was partially filled, maybe 15 people, when we visited on a Wednesday evening. We had expected more bikers because of Warrensburg Bike Week and Americade in Lake George, but a sudden storm, preceded by high winds and an ominous yellow glow in the sky sent them scattering.

Fortunately, we missed the “All-You-Can-Eat” Wings special and believe we were too late for Happy Hour (4:30 to 6:30). We donated some money to NY State by playing Quick Draw and shared the normal portion of their crispy “All-We-Can-Eat” wings. Open seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m., except on Sunday when they open at noon, George Henry’s serves food until 9 p.m. in the summer months. The kitchen closes earlier in other seasons, and are known to close the establishment for private parties on rare occasions, but are generally open year round. George Henry’s offers live music on Friday and Saturday nights and there is a small, designated area for the band or soloist, but don’t expect to do any dancing there.

The beer selection is pretty decent with domestics from the Coors, Budweiser, and Miller brands, and good old Genny as well. Import and premium bottled beers include Corona, Heineken, Labatt, Long Trail, Guinness and Twisted Tea. Six draft beers are available, including choices from Lake Placid Brewery, Adirondack Brewery and Davidson Brothers. Specialty drinks aren’t promoted, but George Henry’s is equipped to provide the basics and sometimes more elaborate drinks when staffing permits.

George Henry’s has been under current ownership for 25 years and seems to want to expand beyond the local pub. Improvements have been made, though nothing lavish or radical, more aptly living within their means while keeping costs down to appeal to the masses. A deck on the side, for example, has yet to be seen by us in all of its intended splendor.

George Henry’s is on Main Street which is sometimes heavily traveled, so the added seclusion of low fencing on the Main Street side of the deck offers privacy and noise reduction, but still allows a nice view of the Schroon River. The deck is accented with flower boxes and beds of hostas, pansies, and petunias, which Pam deadheaded for them that evening while reviewing the surroundings. Several tables, some with umbrellas, looked inviting, were it not for the rain.

Stop at George Henry’s for dinner on your way to points further north and expect a welcoming staff and patrons and good food. When looking for a good burger in the ‘Burg, George Henry’s is the place to go. Or go on a Friday or Saturday night for live music and an even livelier crowd.

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.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Indian Lake Restaurant & Tavern

Were it not for the fact that we couldn’t find the Bear Trap, we wouldn’t have discovered the Indian Lake Restaurant and Oak Barrel Tavern.

After driving by three times, we decided to stop, out of both curiosity and the need for directions. The handful of cars in the large parking lot didn’t inspire high hopes, but at least they were open. The entrance to the tavern is separate from the restaurant entrance, but we managed to find the correct door and were immediately and cheerfully greeted by Kristen, the bartender. A few small groups of patrons dotted the long, narrow bar; some nodding their greetings. So far so good.

The beautiful antique bar of ornate columns and mirrors immediately catches the eye and looks somewhat out of place in the otherwise ordinary-looking space. Pam asked about it and was directed to read the story, printed and framed on the wall, a few customers chiming in with additional facts. She returned to her seat and gave Kim a brief synopsis, but had to go back and read it again when Kim posed more questions. By that time, she aroused the curiosity of some of the patrons and began her usual banter. They wanted her to notice the twenty-one point mounted deer head recently added to the same wall. “Oooh, that’s a very impressive moose,” she taunted. “It’s a deer,” several of them immediately corrected. “You could pass it off as a moose to some people from the city,” Pam chided. Again, the ice was broken and they proceeded to share the story of the deer with her. We’re sure they will share the story with you when you visit.

The Oak Barrel Tavern bears evidence of several influences, evolved over many decades. The bar and shelving behind it were originally part of the historic Old Nassau Tavern in Princeton, NJ. A restoration project in downtown Princeton called for demolition of the tavern, and a contractual agreement was drawn requiring that the bar be moved 250 miles outside the New York City area. Purchased in the 1930’s, the bar was carefully dismantled and brought to Indian Lake, where it was reassembled at Farrell’s Tavern and remains today. An old photo post card we found on eBay of Farrell’s Tavern shows that little of the interior of the Indian Lake Tavern has changed since the 1940’s.

While at the North Creek Beer Fest last Saturday we met Jeff and Nina who provided us with more background on the Oak Barrel. Jeff is currently working on a book about the history of rafting in the area and told us that the Oak Barrel was “ground zero” for rafting companies and outfitters centered in Indian Lake in the 1980’s, and a favorite meeting place for post-rafting adventurers to relive their experiences “rivering on the Hudson”. A couple of framed rafting photos corroborate the rafting influence. Jeff also made mention of “whipped cream incidents” and “flashing”, though would not elaborate.

Draft beer choices were limited to LaBatt Blue, Michelob Light and Blue Moon (which they were out of at the moment). There were, however, 24 bottled choices on the menu. Because the name immediately caught her attention, Kim chose a Lake Placid 46er Pale Ale. Not a big fan of pale ale, this one was different from most. A warm copper color, creamy and somewhat thick, with an earthy, slightly sweet toffee flavor and faint citrus notes, the 46er is less bitter than other pale ales. A generous wine selection including reds, whites, sparkling and dessert, Pam was happy to find a white zin. The adjoining liquor store offers many more wine choices, which, with a $10.00 cork fee, can be purchased and consumed with dinner.

We weren’t really there to eat, but the menu deserves mention. Appetizers consist of typical bar fare, but at closer inspection, a more extensive and creative selection emerges, all very reasonably priced. Burgers and sandwiches are all priced between $6 and $8. Four pasta choices including the interesting “Absolutely Shrimp and Sausage” range from $12 to $16, along with salads, steak, seafood and chicken entrees and even meatloaf and shepherd’s pie; none over $20.

Since the Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern was not our target destination, we didn’t get all our usual information, but we’re really glad we found it. The staff and patrons created a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, earning a Happy Hour in the High Peaks “thumbs up”.

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.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Shepard’s Cove Lake George

Look what we’ve been missing since our twenties! At some point during that decade we decided to avoid Lake George Village in the summer season. Too much traffic, too crowded, too expensive, what – pay for parking! When we sat at the lakeside bar at Shepard’s Cove on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, Pam took in the breeze from the open doors and windows, cast her glance out on the lake, listened to solo act Rich Ortiz playing his acoustic music and felt she had been cheating herself all those years.
Our bartender, Jonny, flattered us by insisting on seeing our ID’s. We knew immediately that he was going to be fun. We informed him of our purpose in visiting on that day, and after he and the other bartender finished ribbing us about having to “work” on Memorial Day weekend, we ordered our drinks and took in the interior scenery.

We settled in immediately, relaxed and feeling for the first time on this quest like tourists on vacation. Shepard’s Cove, light and airy, has a distinct Caribbean beach house feel. Whitewashed pine walls trimmed in blue add a cool feel as a steady breeze finds its way through a wide opening to the spacious upper deck overlooking the lake. Another equally large deck resides on the lower level as well, with marina for those arriving by boat. Little thought seems to have gone into the decor, a confusing combination of a series of framed black-and-white celebrity photos and beer advertising giveaways; the ladies’ room pepto pink. A scattering of both high and low tables provide seating in addition to the wraparound bar, which seats approximately 25 people. A modest stage is located inside to accommodate the mostly local bands who contribute to the Lake George nightlife; an area on the deck for acoustic performers on a lazy afternoon.

Jonny answered our technical questions when time permitted. Reminiscent of a young bartender named Brian, whom Pam groomed during her former days as a regular at the Garrison, Pam plied Jonny for some of his favorite drink recipes. Her relationship with Brian had eventually culminated in a “drink of the day” game between them, and Jonny took the bait. Here are a few delicious concoctions he shared with us:

Jonny’s Raspberry
Raspberry vodka
Sour apple liqueur
fresh lemon juice
fresh lime juice
cranberry juice
1 pkt sugar
shaken over ice

Purple Rain
Grape vodka
Blue curacao
cranberry juice

We indulged in Jonny’s Purple Rain with a friendly couple from downstate celebrating a birthday – always a good excuse for a shot (if you need an excuse). The drink prices were in the average range for Lake George – around $5.00 for a beer or simple mixed drink. Kim tried a beer (of course she did!) new to her – a Magic Hat Wacko Summer Seasonal. Malty, slightly sweet, with a mild hop flavor and a gorgeous soft watermelon color, it was light and quenching and complemented Jonny’s Raspberry perfectly. Pam instructed Jonny on the proper proportions to recreate the Grape Crush from the Barking Spider.

We did not have the opportunity to sample the food, but a glance at the menu divulged an assortment of soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and appetizers in the $6 to $10 range. Entrees include a variety of steaks, seafood, ribs and pasta ranging from $13 to $22.

We are primarily “Happy Hour” patrons and found Shepard’s Cove a perfect place to have lunch or spend an afternoon with family or friends. Our guess is that the patrons of the night are of a more youthful and energetic demographic, attesting to the versatility of Shepard’s Cove. We look forward to our rediscovery of Lake George.

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.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Northern NY Agricultural Development Numbers

With $300,000 in funding now secure in the 2011-2012 New York State Budget, the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) is moving ahead with 2011 on-farm research and outreach projects in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

A 2010 NNYADP Impact Statement provides a snapshot of the NNY region’s agricultural industry: approximately 4,200 farms, 1.11 million acres, a farm employee payroll of $52.9 million, Northern New York farm products’ market value more than $595 million. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Stony Creek Inn

Our most frequently frequented bar since the start of our drinking careers, something about the Stony Creek Inn just keeps luring us back year after year. As winter surrenders to spring, we count down the days until reopening, marking our calendars to keep the date free of other conflicts, and reminding our friends to save the day. This year’s opening party featured Jeff Gonzales warming the gathering crowd with his country-blues, finger-pickin’ solo acoustic sets. The Stony Creek Band, an Adirondack music icon, is as grand a feature act as can be found in the Adirondack Park; Sunday’s Mexican menu a festive feast befitting the occasion.

Excellent food, always cooked to order at an amazingly low price, world-class musicians, a variety of friendly, happy patrons whose camaraderie and grinning faces are contagious, and a dance floor packed with uninhibited, twirling, foot-stomping glee. The scrumptious smells from the kitchen follow you inside and outside – there is no escape – you will have to eat something while you’re here. Drinks are straightforward. No fancy martinis or clever shots. A modest variety of bottled and draft beers, simple mixed drinks and an occasional margarita are the norm, priced a little on the high side. With only two bartenders on a busy night, expect to wait a little while to quench your thirst. Just relax. Listen to the music. Look around. Plying customers with excessive quantities of alcohol is not high on the proprietors’ list of goals.

And let’s not forget our outstanding hosts, Dot Bartell and John Fickel, owners and curators of this exhibit for over 31 years. Diminutive Dotty can be spotted darting throughout the dining area – meeting, greeting and seating diners. John is in the kitchen but makes frequent appearances, usually wearing a stained apron over shorts, a bandanna covering his head.

A visit with Dottie reveals a strong sense of pride in the history of the Stony Creek Inn. Built in 1905 with locally milled lumber, before electricity made its way to Stony Creek, the interior has changed little over the years. With characteristic Adirondack thrift and ingenuity, materials are often reused in new and creative ways. A door becomes a window, perhaps; siding serves as ceiling. The hardwood floor is mostly concealed by layers of wax that has blackened over the century; the only area of bare wood is the dance floor, worn too thin by countless shuffling, stomping feet to even sand one more time. A sense of community within the walls of the Stony Creek Inn is reflected in the collection of artwork, posters, photos and memorabilia hanging on the walls. An original poster, now framed and signed by local musicians was given in thanks for “Dot and Johnstock”, an annual fundraiser now in its fourth year, with proceeds to benefit Cindy’s Retreat and the Southern Adirondack Musicians Fund.

The local regulars typically occupy the barstools furthest from the action, where they have a wide-angle view of the activity taking place around them. The pool table is always occupied and clusters of people ebb and flow with the tide of more and more bodies. The dining room closest to the stage tends to hold those who are really there to hear the band and to dance. There’s a back room behind it, nicknamed the “Yuppie Room”, which accommodates up to 35 people who can still see and hear the band and dance floor. One table of folks brought to mind The Fockers at a rehearsal dinner.

Yuppies and hippies, young and old, bikers and beatniks, artists, musicians, professionals (buttoned-down and buttoned-up), intellectuals, locals, and vacationers populate the Inn throughout its season, which currently begins in mid-May and continues through the last Sunday of hunting season, this year falling on December 4. Hunters and outdoor sports enthusiasts often inhabit the upstairs rooms, rented nightly for $35.00. A step above camping, the accommodations offer no cell phone reception, no TV’s or even room keys, but clean sheets and plenty of hot water.

Slipping out to the spacious front porch, recently rebuilt with the help of volunteers, offers a place to escape the din, cool off after bumping bodies on the dance floor, have a conversation, or just hear yourself think. We met a group of gentlemen who, once they inquired about Kim’s camera, were eager to share a book called Nickel City Drafts: a Drinking History of Buffalo, NY. Odd they should carry it around with them.

What the Inn lacks in ambience is compensated in enthusiasm and diversity. It’s loud, crowded, and just a whole lot of fun. There is a common misconception that the Stony Creek Inn is in the middle of nowhere. In reality, the picturesque drive to Stony Creek is just 15 minutes from Warrensburg and the Hadley/Luzerne area, 20 minutes from Lake George, and 30 minutes from Queensbury. People drive a lot further for a lot less. Like the sign says, “The road to a friendly town is never long”.

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.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Whitewater Derby; Recipes

North Creek’s annual Whitewater Derby is an event which deserves proper recognition – of the drink persuasion. We spent some time on “research” last week, creating the Whitewater Rushin’, and an interesting variation; its subtle maple flavor and frothy finish a tribute to spring in the northeast. It’s been some time since we were at Whitewater Derby – back when it was just a great excuse to party, camping at the ski bowl, an inch of snow on the roof of the VW bus, and no watercraft in sight. Considering our current livelihood, it was high time we returned, so we had our own private, mini pub crawl in North Creek on Saturday.

Whitewater Rushin’
1 oz. Sapling Maple Liqueur
1/2 oz. Amaretto
1 oz. vanilla vodka
2 oz. cream or milk
Shake with ice or use a blender

Beginning with Trapper’s at the Copperfield Inn, Pam ordered a “Snow Bunny Martini”, a delicious grape-flavored concoction that set the tone for the afternoon. We met a newcomer to North Creek, Michael, who had just begun the arduous task of tearing down an existing home and putting up a camp. Good luck with that, Michael. We couldn’t stay long; we had planned to visit five of the local pubs, including Laura’s which we have yet to review. As we headed out, under the gaze of Teddy Roosevelt’s moose, bedecked in his own derby number, Pam remarked that Trapper’s has, by far, the very best outdoor ashtray we have yet seen.

Snow Bunny Martini
3 Olives grape vodka
Whipped cream vodka
Cream

Off we went to the Barking Spider. We hadn’t been there since February and were pleased to find it quite crowded and noisy and we managed to grab a couple of seats at the bar. Pam couldn’t decide which direction her next cocktail should take from the grapes of Trappers and, ironically, the bartender suggested the Grape Crush. A theme was emerging. It was even more delicious than the previous drink.

Pam went outside to see what was happening on the deck (perhaps “landing” more aptly describes it) and talked to some nice people about the Derby – the Kentucky Derby. Two kayaks paddled by on the Hudson, lending a feeling of being a part of the Whitewater Derby! That’s more than we’ve ever seen in our history of attending. Hmmm, what if OTB got involved in whitewater racing??? When it was time for the ladies on the deck to order, they advised their companions that they wanted what Pam was having. She must have had “delicious” written all over her face as she sipped her beverage because she hadn’t commented on it. Upon further reflection, perhaps it was the pint sized glass the drink came in that attracted their attention.

Grape Crush
Grape vodka
Chambord
Splash of craberry juice
Top off with Sprite

And we’re off…to do a review of Laura’s. We popped in and found it totally empty; even the bartender was missing. So we scooted out undetected, planning to stop at barVino. With the grape theme going, that would have been an obvious choice, but Pam didn’t think their grapes would complement the grapes she had already consumed. So, it was decided, one last stop at Basil & Wicks, then home.

Basil & Wick’s trail marker themed sign indicated we were on the right trail. From our parking space we could see into the dining room, where Jane, the owner, was waving us in. She even came out onto the porch to greet us, making us feel really special. Pam once said, “A good tavern is one that makes strangers feel they are in their own home town.”

Basil & Wick’s is like going home. Jane proudly showed Kim her newest museum piece – a barstool from the original Basil & Wick’s, hermetically sealed in its own plexiglass case. The bar was fairly full and we actually knew a few people, among them local music legend Hank Soto, of Stony Creek Band fame. We will actually be reviewing the Stony Creek Inn next week, celebrating its reopening on Sunday, May 15, featuring the Stony Creek Band. You know ’em, you love ’em… Hope to see some of you there!

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


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Timberwolf and Black Bear

Our first daily double. On Saturday, we visited two bars: the Timberwolf Pub in Schroon Lake and the Black Bear in Pottersville. Originally, we had planned to start at the Wells House in Pottersville, which is currently closed, but rumor has it that it will reopen soon. We decided to start in Schroon Lake.

The Timberwolf Pub has an interesting architectural design which I will call Bavarian style. The interior is open and well-lit, with several ceiling fans with lights. The large bar could accommodate 15 to 20 people; several tables throughout the room even more. The walls are tongue and groove pine with a shelf around the whole room displaying a multitude of ceramic houses. A brightly lit alcove over the restroom doors display a plethora of Easter decorations. Helen, the owner and bartender on duty, informed us that she decorates this area according to every occasion. In addition to this display, several stuffed wolves, a fisher and a grinning fox, stand silently, watching over the bar. Too many stiff drinks?

On a chilly day, it was warm and comfortable in the Timberwolf Pub. We received a friendly greeting by a local at the bar upon entering and, believe it or not, that hasn’t been the case in our adventures so far this year. An over sized, handmade hat labeled “TIPS” sat at the end of the bar. Naturally, Kim couldn’t help remarking that someone has lofty goals. Helen chuckled and informed us that someone had volunteered to play music the night before “just for tips”. She discreetly tucked the hat behind the bar. While we were there, a patron had a package delivered to him at the bar. I had a sense of the smallness of the community and the hominess of the Timberwolf.

On weekends they have a DJ on one night and karaoke on the other. Quick Draw and scratch off tickets are available for amusement as well. The Timberwolf Pub does not have a happy hour, but does offer two drink specials – Carbomb consisting of Jaegermeister and Red Bull and the Long Island Iced Tea made from a variety of liquors combined with Coke that somehow achieves the iced tea flavor. They are open year round, seven days a week, catering to locals and tourists. The menu is broad, with basic pub fare and home style dinner specials, all very reasonably priced. Although the Timberwolf Pub has been under the same ownership for ten years, it does have a fresh look.

Next stop, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar…

Just off Exit 26 of the Adirondack Northway, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar have occupied this corner on Route 9 for over half a century. Walking into the Black Bear is like stepping back in time.

The red and black checkerboard linoleum-tiled floor is well worn by decades of dog-tired working-class feet. The bar is no nonsense; green formica topped and wood framed, with purse hooks beneath, kind of like church, though the similarity stops there. The bar mysteriously wraps around into a large adjoining room, spacious enough to accommodate occasional performers, Friday night karaoke and, rarely, a band.

According to the North Warren Chamber of Commerce website, Quick Draw, Lottery games, OTB and EZ Bet are also available here. The decor is decidedly early garage sale: beer posters and signs, a jukebox, photo collages spanning many years, ’60’s retro “big-eyed” children prints identify the restrooms, and a stuffed black bear wearing bunny ears and carrying an Easter basket. The Black Bear bears all the evidence of a home away from home, open seven days a week.

Surprisingly, no draft beer, but 30 bottled choices and the liquor staples suffice. They don’t appear to have a happy hour but their regular prices already beat most happy hours. I had a 12 ounce bottle of Sam Adams, which the bartender poured into a pint glass. Oddly enough, it filled the glass. There were perhaps eight or ten other people in the bar; most seemed to know one another. Like most hometown bars, the Black Bear seems like a quiet, friendly place to spend a lazy afternoon watching NASCAR on the modest TV and exchanging good-natured insults with friends.

Last week’s review stirred up some controversy over the food at Flanagan’s vs. the Black Bear, so we had to eat. The bar and the restaurant are separate entities, though we were able to order and eat at the bar. Order the wings hot if you want medium, medium if you want mild, and mild if you want sweet, we were advised by the bartender. We ordered hot, which were indeed medium, but they smelled and tasted delicious. We also split a burger, which arrived clad in a soft, fresh kaiser roll, topped with lettuce and tomato, with a generous side of fries. No complaints; it was quite satisfying.

Whether it was the dreariness of the day, or the funk between seasons, our enthusiasm was lacking. In a way, it’s great to visit places when it’s the off-season, but we look forward to a having a few more people around. We know. Careful what you wish for.

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.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Adirondack Wild ‘Wings’ to Host NYC Event

The Wild Center will hold the Wings Spring Fling at Affirmation Arts in New York City on Thursday, April 28th from 6:30 pm until 9:30 pm. Wings launched last spring, bringing together the next generation of Adirondackers (21-45 years old) who want to share their passion for the natural world of the Adirondacks, while supporting the important educational and environmental work of The Wild Center.

The event will include an open bar with wine, beer and signature ‘The Wild Thing’ vodka drink, catered hors d’oeuvres and dessert. There will also be music performed by Frankenpine, a Brooklyn-based string band with roots reaching from the subway platforms of the city up the Hudson Valley to the mountains of the Adirondacks.

The banjo and fiddle in Frankenpine give it a touch of bluegrass, but the band’s original music draws on a wide range of influences—everything from blues to gypsy jazz to rock to old-time. Frankenpine has been receiving strong acclaim for its recent CD release, The Crooked Mountain. Like the Wings Spring Fling, Frankenpine (with members Ned Rauch and Colin DeHond, former Saranac Lakers) is a perfect blend of New York City and the Adirondacks.

The event is free for Wings members and there is a $30 guest contribution to Wings for non-members. Sponsors are Affirmation Arts, Frankenpine, Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, Lake Placid Spirits and Photography by Jordan Barnes. For more information and to RSVP for the Wings Spring Fling, please visit www.wildcenter.org/wings.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Flanagan’s in Schroon Lake

The trip to Schroon Lake was much shorter than I expected, even though we took the scenic route. It was the first really nice Spring day of the season. Schroon Lake was bustling, for April. People were out walking. Just seeing people on the streets is as much a sign of spring as the crocuses blooming.

Tucked amid a small group of Main Street storefronts in Schroon Lake, Flanagan’s Pub and Grill is well-kept and very attractive with a stone facade. Its hand-painted signs promising a family restaurant atmosphere, we accepted the invitation. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: barVino in North Creek

It didn’t quite feel like spring when we left Warrensburg on what started as a breezy, sunny day, but it did hold promise that winter was loosening its grip. It seems whenever we mention our book project, barVino in North Creek is suggested. We were off to find out what all the buzz was about.

A visual sweep as we walked in immediately registered calm; high ceilings, clean simple lines, and a sense of order and unpretentious sophistication. In real life, Kim is a photographer so was naturally drawn to the framed black-and-white photographs hanging on the warm adobe-hued walls, this month’s gallery exhibit. barVino regularly graces its walls with local artists’ works, adding further classiness to the place. Pam’s attention was drawn to the craftsmanship of the decor, both modern and classic, with a concrete bar counter and sturdy barstools (all matching, of course) of wood and padded fabric seats.

The lighting was just right to show off the overall sleekness, eyes drawn upwards to the high ceiling and classic tin cornices, all painted green. The tin crown molding was the only hint that the building wasn’t new. There were several ceiling fans that were large but not gaudy. We could have been sitting in a trendy bistro on Boston’s Newbury Street.

The page-and-a-half-long beer menu boasted a nearly global selection of bottled and draft beers. Draft beer featured Guinness and an assortment of craft brews from Davidson Brothers, Adirondack Brewery, and Dogfish Head. The endless bottled list? Lagers and ales and wheats and belgians and stouts and porters, oh my! Kim ordered a Davidson’s Ctrl-Alt-Del. The color a warm reddish brown, the aroma a little wheaty, it had a slightly bitter flavor with a hint of nuttiness.

The bartender, Janelle, was helpful in suggesting a white wine from the specials board after I shared my preferences regarding sweetness and dryness with her. We were under the impression that it was strictly a wine bar, and stand corrected. Not to be outdone, and it is barVino after all, the five page wine list requires a passport. Selections from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and California in red (55 bottled; 16 by the glass), rose, port, white, dessert, and champagne by the glass or bottle. You can download PDF’s of barVino’s menus online.

A review isn’t complete without a trip to the restroom which divulged more surprises. In the hallway hung an eclectic collection of antique mirrors. The oak drysink in the ladies room held baskets of individual hand towels and a framed print on the wall depicted an old woman gathering wood.

barVino, North Creek, where local simplicity meets urban chic.

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.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Glens Falls Benefit Brewfest Saturday April 2

Over 30 breweries from both our region and across the country are assembling in Glens Falls for the Glens Falls Brewfest on Saturday, April 2 at the Queensbury Hotel. Those in attendance will be able to sample a wide variety of beers from the assembled collection of breweries.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Tickets include the tastings, a souvenir tasting glass and food from area restaurants. Advance tickets may be purchased in Glens Falls at both Cooper’s Cave Ale Company (2 Sagamore Street, 518-792-0007) and Davidson Brothers Brewery & Restaurant (184 Glen Street, 518-743-9026). Designated drivers admitted at the door for $10 and will be served water and soda.

The following breweries are confirmed participants in this year’s Glens Falls Brewfest: Adirondack Pub & Brewery, Anchor Brewing, Black Dog Ale, Boulder Beer, Brewery Ommegang, Brooklyn Brewery, Cooper’s Cave Brewing Company, Davidson Brothers Brewing Company, Dundee Ales & Lagers, Goose Island, Harpoon Brewery, Ithaca Beer Company, Kona Brewing Company, Lake Placid Craft Brewery, Langunitas Brewing Company, Long Trail Brewing Co., Magic Hat Brewing, Mendocino Brewing Company, Old Saratoga Brewing Co, Oskar Blues Brewery, Otter Creek Brewery, Peak Organic, Red Hook Ale Brewery, Samuel Adams, Saranac Brewery, Schmaltz Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Smuttynose Brewing Co., Switchback Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers and Wolaver’s Organic Ales. Organizers report that more breweries are signing on every day. Up to the minute information can be found at glensfallsbrewfest.org.

Proceeds from the event will benefit two of our area’s unique non-profit organizations: Adirondack Theatre Festival (ATF) and The Feeder Canal Alliance. ATF is our region’s only professional summer theatre committed to new and contemporary plays and musicals. The Feeder Canal Alliance was established to preserve, promote and maintain the historic Feeder Canal which provides water from the Hudson River to the Champlain Canal and from the early 1800s until 1928 provided a means of transportation by canal boats for people and goods.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

NYS Snowmobile Association: Zero Alcohol

At the height of the snowmobile season, the New York State Snowmobile Association reminds riders that many snowmobile-related incidents would be prevented if every rider made the smart choice for Zero Alcohol. NYSSA endorses the Zero Alcohol program, which urges every snowmobiler to take personal responsibility for choosing to be 100% alcohol-free prior to and during any snowmobile ride.

The Zero Alcohol Campaign is delivering this message to snowmobilers across North America. Zero Alcohol encourages every snowmobiler to set an example to all riding companions to practice Zero Alcohol as part of their own regular safe riding habit.

“We are very confident that many snowmobilers have seen the Zero Alcohol message and that most are making the smart choice to ride alcohol-free,” said NYSSA President Gary Broderick. “Unfortunately, a few riders still don’t get it and our sympathies are with their loved ones who have to live with the tragic consequences of a bad decision. At this sad time, we strongly urge the families and friends of all snowmobilers to remind their loved ones to choose Zero Alcohol. ”

Although Zero Alcohol is not a legal requirement, the NYSSA community points out that unlike driving an automobile on engineered roads, snowmobiling is an inherently risky, off road activity that occurs in a natural setting. Consequently, operating a snowmobile requires peak concentration and reactions at all times. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause tragedy. Studies show that impairment starts from the first drink and that a person with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% is 11 times more likely to get killed while driving a car than at the .00% BAC recommended by the Zero Alcohol Campaign. Operating a snowmobile is even more challenging than driving a car.