OUR MISSION - WE'RE PUBLISHED! Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 marked the Premier of our new book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide. The hardcover, 160 page book can be found at bars and bookstores throughout the Adirondack Park or order online at www.happyhourinthehighpeaks.com. You'll find a list of our book signings on the Events page and where to buy the book on our Retailers page. The book contains reviews of 46 of our favorite bars in the Adirondack Park, and 46 drink recipes with an Adirondack twist. As a companion to the book, we have also published a 46er Passport so that you can follow the Happy Hour Trail to become a Happy Hour 46er and make new friends along the way. Summit Tour t-shirts will be for sale at our book signings or available online. Whether you are a native, resident, or visitor, you'll find 46 more reasons to visit the ADIRONDACK PARK!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happy Hour in the Smoky Mountains, TN

Good to be back home.  It was a long drive but worth it to get away from the snow and catch some rays.  Some interesting happenings in Cocke County, Tennessee.  I will neither confirm nor deny whether I procured some Tennessee moonshine.  I learned a bit of history about the county, none of which made any sense, and my daughter saw a real hooker, but insisted it couldn't be because she was old and ugly - we didn't get into the details (and since when does she know what a hooker is anyway?). 

Cocke County is a "dry" county, and yet it isn't.  For starters, Walmart can't sell beer, but there is a little "convenient store" in front of it that sells beer?   There are liquor stores in Cocke County?  There are.  All of these questions started when my stepfather, Bill, and I sat down for a drink at the Tin Can Saloon. 

Ahhhh, the Tin Can Saloon... It was about 10pm and I was tired and only had two glasses of wine, hours ago, so I wasn't "myself".   As we drove up to the end of a dirt road, I was impressed with their location - at least the "feds" can't get your license plate number as they drive by.  Big parking lot.  Large, cabin-like building.  Bill opened the door to the saloon and I stepped in - immediately I took a deep breath and said "aaawwwww".  It was a nostalgic "aaaawwwww".  Maybe some reserve that for a cute puppy or baby, but it reminded me of my "childhood".  The smell of stale cigarettes and beer.  I didn't realize how much I missed that smell.  It was a large, open bar room, with two pool tables - both were occupied.  We sat at the bar and Angel, the owner, asked me what I would like.  Bill had already warned me that he thought they only sell beer.  I told her I was looking for something "not beer".  She suggested a Smirnoff Ice, grape, and I accepted.  I felt like Radar O'Reilly (from M*A*S*H*) drinking Grape Nehi in Korea.  I had two.  I don't think I've ever been in a bar that only served beer.  But, Bill reminded me that Cocke County is a "dry" county and it all made sense (no, it didn't).  I smoked four cigarettes.  Why is it that you're a "chain smoker" if you smoke four cigarettes in an hour, but someone who smokes a cigar for a half hour isn't?  Bill smoked two pipes and I kept up, that's all.

Bottoms Up!

High Peaks Pammie

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dad's Gonna Be Mad

My dad likes Jack Daniels, it's kind of sacred and only consumed straight, so don't tell him what we did!  Remember I wanted to "wintrify" the Adirondack Sunrise.  Well, I did, and it's indescribable.  I was very afraid that mixing Jack Daniels and orange juice would be disgusting.  Boy, was I surprised!  You must try this and let us know what  you think.

AdironJack Sunrise
1 1/2 oz Jack Daniels Whisky
1/2 oz Grenadine
4 oz orange juice (we used "more pulp" orange juice and some got caught in the strainer)
shaken and strained over ice
makes 2 servings

I'm pretty sure this is illegal in Tennessee.
Bottoms Up!
High Peaks Pammie

Sister & I Get into the Recipes

Let's see how "live" works out this week.

We're on a bar hiatus for February break. Pam's checking out the moonshine action in Tennessee I think. I hope she brings some back!

We discovered the delicious decadence of the deciduous maple while traveling through Vermont from Massachusetts. Thinking the White Russian needed a decidedly Adirondack flavor, I googled "maple liqueur" on my iPhone. There's an independent distiller of the amber treat in Vermont. Hand-crafted in small batches and aged in oak barrels, it's positively delectable and tastes delicately like the grade A REAL maple syrup from which it's created. We couldn't wait to get creative with this gem! (In the meantime, hubby and I like it for sippin' on the rocks on a Friday night.) You can only get Sapling in a few states, so we have a "runner" who lives in Vermont and makes deliveries to us here in New York. For more info, go to http://www.saplingliqueur.com/

We're ready for our first concoction:
Whitewater Rushin'.

Springtime in the Adirondacks is synonymous with Whitewater Derby, held in North Creek the first weekend in May. As the waters of the Hudson River begin to flow, so does the sap in the maple trees, a fitting theme for a drink and a good excuse to use the Sapling maple liqueur.

Whitewater Rushin'
2 oz. maple liqueur
1 oz. vanilla vodka
2-4 oz. light cream or milk

Pam's "wintrifying" the Adirondack Pub & Brewery's Adirondack Sunrise, going for something a little more manly. We're not sure what to call it yet and have yet to taste it...

Now we're messing around with Triple Sec.

Bee Sting
1 1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 oz. water
Shake with ice. Strain over ice.

This has a distinctive but not overpowering honey sweetness that complements the citrus flavors of the triple sec and lemon. Yummy!

We have some more ideas and Pam & I may tag team blog next week while she's in Tennessee, each creating our own recipes. We have a long list of Adirondack-themed drinks waiting to be born.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's up this weekend? More Recipes

Friday we are going to invent some new drink concoctions and maybe try some variations of the tried and true.  Break out your blender, or pick up a Magic Bullet, and play along with us.  It will be a live blogcast (I promise), so feel free to offer your own suggestions, too.  Don't be afraid to try your own substitutions if your bar is under-stocked.  If you live in the Adirondacks, your bar should be running a bit dry by mid-February - we have to keep warm somehow. 
Road trip for me next week, so no High Peaks Happy Hour reviews.  I'm off to Tennessee to determine if Makin' Moonshine in the Smoky Mountains is going to be our next book.  (Actually, going to visit my Mom, but maybe I can write off the mileage if I make it a "business" trip.  Not very worried that the IRS is watching me yet).
I know you're curious about how many people are following our blog.  Ok, I know you're not, but I'm going to tell you anyway! I'm excited to say that we have had 272 views so far.  Too bad so many of you are too shy to comment, but maybe by the time we hit 1000, you'll let your guard down. Til tomorrow....

Bottoms Up!
High Peaks Pammie

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unable to blogcast live at Adirondack Pub & Brewery

Though not able to blogcast, we gathered a lot of information and had an enjoyable time. We started with a sampler and I made it a point to try each one. The Bobcat Blonde was not on the sampler, but was recommended by our contact, Laura. It was the perfect beer for me and I drank a whole pint! Kim took a brief tour of the brewery and I'm sure will comment on that. The Pub is now selling bottles of beer to take home. They offer clever tee shirts and pint glasses as well. They are planning to stay open weekends year round starting this year and I think they are making some followers very happy.

It's a great place to relax, talk, eat, etc. There was a lot to take in visually, with sleds and canoes and old photographs and stuffed bobcats found just within my view. I wandered outside to look around. The deck is huge and would have been most welcoming if not covered in several feet of snow. Note to self... revisit this place in the warmer months. I like a place that has a good outdoor venue. I have a terrific outdoor space at home, so it's a treat to find someplace as inviting as that. One thing I might find here that I don't get at home (besides the beer and the servers), however, is afternoon and evening sun.

I found a mixed drink special on their menu called the Adirondack Sunrise. It's made with Malibu Rum, orange juice and grenadine. Will try this one at home but I'm already thinking of "enhancements". It sounds like a summer drink that I could "winterfy" pretty easily.

Bottoms Up!

Thoughts before we go to Adirondack Pub & Brewery

A brewery is definitely Kim's comfort zone - she likes microbrews and beer, in general.  I, on the other hand, am not a beer drinker by nature, but I think I'm going to have to explore.  Ordering an "Ultra" beer in a brewery is probably like ordering a white zin spritzer at a wine tasting!  I recently commented that I wasn't a martini drinker, but I sure enjoyed the pumpkin martini at Trappers.  My quest today should be finding the best beer for self-proclaimed non-beer drinkers.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Adirondack Pub and Brewery

Last weekend Pam suggested we do a "live" blog from one of our venues. What a great idea! Since the Lake George Winter Carnival had just gotten underway and there was at least some possibility we'd be able to find a place with WiFi, we thought of the Adirondack Pub and Brewery on Canada Street at the southern end of Lake George Village. I emailed them, having discovered it's to our and the establishment's advantage if they know ahead of time. It eliminates suspicion. We were not able to secure an internet connection while we were there. I managed to send my introduction via iPhone, but the network was too slow to continue. We'll try again from another location.

We were warmly welcomed by Laura, marketing and sales director, on this Sunday afternoon at the Adirondack Pub & Brewery. She answered all our questions and we were pleased to learn that the pub will not be closing at the conclusion of Winter Carnival, but will remain open Thursday through Sunday, and adding Wednesday in April. The decor? You guessed it! Adirondack theme, with clever and interesting twists. I was rather fond of the stuffed bobcat (no, it's not en entree') standing just above and behind our table.

You won't find PBR on tap here. The Pub serves its own beers exclusively and offers six-packs of Bear Naked Ale and dirty Blonde to go, as well as 64 oz. growlers and even kegs! They will add new flavors about every week as they test sales of popular beers. You can also purchase tee shirts and drink glasses from a tiny little store area near the entrance.

At Laura's recommendation, we started with the sampler to share (six different beers served in 8 oz. glasses). Working from lightest to heaviest/darkest, we started with the Dirty Blonde. It had a light pleasant flavor, with a slightly fruity aftertaste with a touch of bitterness which I found unusual in a wheat beer. Next was the Bear Naked Ale, their most popular. I have ordered this a few times at some of the other pubs we've visited for this project. It's flavorful but not heavy, and has a somewhat earthy quality to it. I don't know if there's a proper term for the flavor you taste in your nose or sinus area, but that's where the earthiness could be detected. The Brewer's pick, a Dunkelweisen, was described as possessing hints of banana and clove, though couldn't really pick up the banana. Gently spicy with a warm flavor, I liked this one best I think. The IPA was next. Not a fan of IPA; too bitter. And this was no exception. I will leave analysis of IPA's to those who appreciate them. (Of course, I drank it anyway.) Our sampler concluded with the Cafe' Vero Stout, brewed with roasted coffee. This was dark, rich, mellow, and tasty and a fine conclusion to the trip around the sample wheel (and my other favorite). Pam ordered a Bobcat Blonde pint which, for the calorie-conscious, is a mere 71 calories for 12 oz. (This is not a random guess; they actually sent it to a lab for analysis.) That's about 92 calories in a pint, lower than most light beers out there, and far more flavorful. Extra points for that!

Laura gave me a quick tour of the brewery and a brief explanation of how it all works. I plan to come back when the brewmaster is available and make myself a pest with all my questions. The brewmaster has poetic license when it comes to creating new brews. I think a "Blue Line APA " flavored with a hint of blueberry (variances allowed), would be perfect for the region.  The "APA" could stand for Adirondack Pale Ale? Almost Pale Ale? You ask, "Who would flavor a pale ale?" I googled it; it's been done.

Though it was fairly quiet at the Adirondack Pub and Brewery when we visited, the bar area had steady traffic. My experience was mostly positive and I recommend you see for yourself. We did not have dinner, but Pam and I enjoyed a generous plate of nachos. I plan to return, perhaps when the tourist season starts to pick up.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recipes and What's Next...

We tried our version of Kate's Avalanche tonight and it was delish.  One thing led to another and we were on to a new creation,

Squirrel Bait
1 jigger Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1/2 jigger Amaretto (almond liqueur)
1/2 jigger Chocolate Hazelnut liqueur
1-2 tsp peanut butter
2 oz milk
ice to taste
mix in blender (way better than shaken)

1 jigger Frangelico
1 jigger Vanilla Vodka
2 oz milk
shake with ice (might be better blended)

Please join us in Lake George this Sunday afternoon (3-5pm) at Adirondack Pub & Brewery, where we will "blogcast" live for the first time.

Bottoms Up!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Basil & Wicks

Basil & Wicks not only set the bar higher for the bar, but for the bartenders as well.  Peter was behind the bar when we came in and I immediately felt something comfortable about him.  (Kim thought later that I might have a fetish for men in aprons).  I know Kate through family connections, but didn't know she was a bartender, but I knew there was something I liked about that girl.  Later Jeannie showed up - she was one of my favorite bartenders years ago.  Jane, how did you get the cream of the crop in the short time you've been open?  I'm sure you won them over with your natural professionalism and friendly demeanor, and I'm guessing you did your homework and you found the best.

I ran into a co-worker and her husband having dinner at the bar after a day of skiing Gore.  I learned that her husband has climbed the 46 peaks and is on his way to climbing them again.  As we culminate our list of 46 of the best Adirondack taverns, I trust we will have some adventurers ready to explore our version of "high" peaks.
I was tempted by the Chocotini advertised on their daily specials board, but resisted.  Kate has been concocting their weekly drink specials and I was sorry to learn that I had missed the Avalanche - it sounded delicious.  I've got the recipe and will have to try it at home.  Maybe we'll share some of our own "Adirondack" drink specialties with Kate to see if they are worthy of the specials board.

Though we visited Basil & Wicks last week, we couldn't get near the bar and decided to wait until a better time.   We had a terrific dinner in the dining room and decided to come back the following week.  One item of note, from that first visit, was the friendliness of the patrons.  As we left the restaurant and stepped out to the porch, several women were sitting outside enjoying a smoke.  They invited me to join them and, I must say, even if I wasn't a smoker, I would have been tempted by their invitation.  We learned they were visiting from Westchester and we invited them to follow our blog.  Hi, Westchester ladies!

One of the items on my checklist of these establishments is if they are "smoker friendly".  By that, I mean, do they have a place to smoke away from the front door where others won't be offended, do they have a covered area for smoking in case of bad weather, do they have a place to dispose of the cigarettes?  As for Basil & Wicks, they are not only smoker friendly, they have friendly smokers!

I'm already thinking that the location of Basil & Wicks is such that as we travel back from the more northern destinations, this might be the place to stop for a bite to eat on the way home.  They have WiFi - perhaps we could stop and write our blog there?

Bottoms up!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Basil and Wick's Raises the Bar Bar

We left Warrensburg for another trip to North Creek amid plump, juicy dollops of snow, but we really had no difficulty in Pam's Toyota Highlander. And she is, of course, an excellent driver. Were I not such a summer person, I would be ready to move to North Creek. We can't seem to get out of this town, as it has so much to offer (OK, if pubs and taverns are your thing).

As promised, we visited Basil and Wick's this afternoon and were not disappointed. Located on Route 28 (across from Stewart's in North Creek), the cedar shake and rustic log exterior and spacious front porch invited us in and nearly brought us our pipe and slippers. The uncluttered post and beam structure, reminiscent of a remodeled barn, with natural finish knotty pine cathedral ceiling, was warm and inviting. Not overly-decorated, typical icons such as an old sled, a snowboard, skis and antler chandelier create a rustic, outdoorsy theme. In contrast, huge black-and-white murals featuring vintage photographs placed throughout the restaurant, depict scenes from Gore Mountain, Whitewater Derby and, I assume, the original Basil and Wick's. In the Lodge or bar area, three wide-screen TV's are unobtrusive but visible if desired. It was fairly busy when we arrived shortly after the 3:00 opening, though not crowded or noisy. Several tables and booths offer plenty of seating, and a flagstone fireplace occupies part of one wall. Expansive windows bring the outside in, and I kept a watchful eye on weather developments; 6-8 inches predicted.

Peter, whom we encountered first and may be uncomfortable with having his privacy violated if we mention his last name, came over to take our drink order as Kate handed us the beer and wine list. Breaking the ice (the staff heard "bloggers" were going to be in attendance), Peter shared his jellybeans with us, a gesture he surely reserves for "special" customers (Peter, let us pretend we're special). Kate came over to say hello (Kate and I go waaaaayyyyy back; like first grade) and gave us the extensive beer and wine list. Thirteen draft beers with several more on the specials board, and well over 20 bottled choices, all moderately-priced, make up the beer list. Pam is learning to appreciate beer, and had the Ultra. I chose the Smuttynose (New Hampshire) Old Brown Dog Ale, one of the more popular choices. (Personally, I think people like saying "smuttynose" and I'm no exception.) Other craft beers included brews from the Adirondack Brewery, Blue Point (Long Island), and Southern Tier Brewery. There were also plenty of domestics and imports, and the wine list boasts over thirty choices. Finally! Someplace with White Zin. Duly noted.

Soon an enthusiastic Jeannie, who reminds me a little of Ashley Judd, danced in for her shift, pigtails bouncing, with greetings for all. Apparently everyone had heard there were "bloggers" in their midst, conjuring images of strange bespectacled Blackberry-yielding geeks (I wore my contacts and I have an iPhone).

Jimmy, our bar neighbor and owner of a B&B, offered historical information about area taverns and suggested several places for us to check out. Our list grows. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions. We can't promise we'll get to every bar, but we can sure try! (It's a tough job...)

Kate offered answers to our questions and referred us to Jane, the owner, for those she couldn't help with. Jane is obviously quite proud of the establishment, and rightfully so. Her knowledge of the history of Basil and Wick's enhances her enthusiasm for the future. Jane has a lot of good ideas to make Basil and Wick's a year-round success, with the possibility of adding live entertainment in the future. We wish her all the best and can't wait to go back.

Please visit their website at http://basilandwicks.com/

Here's a link to an interesting article about the history of Basil and Wick's http://www.denpubs.com/Articles-c-2009-05-06-58909.113116_Site_of_Durants_Restaurant_today.html

Thank you to Jim Donnelly for permission to use his breathtaking photo, a view of flowed lands from Algonquin, for our background. Jim has provided us with several images, which we will change from time to time.