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!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bear Trap Inn in Indian Lake

We had heard that Indian Lake was quite busy this winter with snowmobilers aplenty. Unfortunately, it didn't make it to our itinerary until now, mid-May. After driving through town several times looking for The Bear Trap Inn, we concluded that May might not be the best time to visit Indian Lake. We stopped at the Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern to ask for directions, stayed long enough to gather intel for a review, and went on our way. We just hadn't driven far enough through town.

The Bear Trap Inn had been recommended to us by several people we've met while doing our reviews elsewhere. As we entered the tavern, Pam had two thoughts; "My, how little!" and "I've been here before." The main tavern was about 10' x 12', but there was obviously more seating in an adjacent room. The bar seated about 10 to 12 people, but there were also a few stools and a small bar on the wall as well. Not wanting to be away from the "action", we found one empty seat at the bar. It was only a few minutes before people started shuffling to seat us both. Pam jokingly said to the bartender, "I'll have a frozen margarita!" She flashed a playful grin and asked for a vodka and grapefruit instead. We were obviously strangers a little early for tourist season, and we felt a sense of curiosity buzzing in the air.

Kim engaged someone next to her in conversation and Pam looked to the man on her left. There was something familiar about him and her mind raced for the connection. She recalled a man in North Creek, at The Barking Spider, many months ago who had told us about the snowmobile activity in Indian Lake, and who had suggested we visit The Bear Trap. He had also mentioned that he owned the Adirondack Trail Motel across from the Bear Trap. Pam decided to go for it, and suggested that they had met before in North Creek. He didn't recall immediately, until she mentioned "Happy Hour in the High Peaks". It's a small bar, so others took in the news as well. The mood changed much like the Group W Bench verse in Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant - they all moved back over on the bench. We were in, and the conversations came from all directions. Our cards were circulated and everyone seemed to have a story to tell. So many stories were fired at us at once, it was difficult to take notes, so we have only memory to go on.

Kim spent quite awhile talking to the woman next to her. Patty has worked for years in bars all over the area and offered suggestions as to where we should go and where we should not. She was very interested in what we were doing and mentioned that the Bear Trap had been visited by someone writing about restaurants in the Adirondacks.

When we mentioned where we were from, Pam's long lost friend, Al, asked if we knew his motel manager, Martha, who came from the same town. Pam thought she was someone she had met through her mother. Well, didn't Martha show up sometime later only to confirm that they knew each other many years back. We met her granddaughter who was absolutely charming.

It was getting to be time to go so Pam quickly whipped out her "official" questionaire and started asking some factual questions from the bartender. How long has this bar been in business? After taking in input from all around, we narrowed it down to the 1950's. How long has the current owner been in business? I believe that question settled on "since the 1970s". They are open year-round, seven days per week. They sometimes have private parties, but the public is invited as well. Every hour is happy hour and every drink is "special". Of the two bars in Indian Lake, the Bear Trap is the latest bar open. They occasionally have live entertainment, typically for parties.

In the two hours we were there, the population swelled from eight to about twenty, becoming a little cramped and noisy. The Bear Trap seems to cater to bikers, snowmobilers and hunters, though we felt quite welcome. One man, whose name we didn't catch, was a wealth of information regarding the ownership history of the place. He also recommended we track down a guy named Jerry, a locally notorious bar historian and musician who has played in every bar in town (both of them?).

Just before leaving, Pam recalled something unique to the bar that confirmed that, yes, she had been there before. The Bear Trap is definitely a local bar, and we aren't sure they would want us to be sending new people to them, but we had such a warm reception that we have mixed emotions. We would suggest that our readers might have an interesting time if they mentioned that they heard of them through Happy Hour in the High Peaks.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

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 there. Drinks are straightforward. No fancy martinis or clever shots here. 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. 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 place is never long".

Kim Ladd and Pam Ladd

Friday, May 20, 2011

Recipe Day! Rhubarb Margaritas

I've grown rhubarb for years (it actually grows itself) and since my days of making homemade jam are on sabbatical, I wanted to find some use for it before it went to seed. We originally planned to make strawberry-rhubarb margaritas but decided to let the rhubarb stand alone. Our first batch was overpowered by the lime, so we started over (don't worry; we didn't waste it!).
First you need to cook the rhubarb. Cut about 15 stalks of rhubarb into one-inch pieces and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water, just covering the rhubarb, and add two cups of sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until rhubarb is mushy. Strain the pulp and save the syrup, which will be a lovely blush color. You may find other uses for it.

Rhubarb Margarita

1 cup cooked rhubarb
1 cup rhubarb syrup
4 shots tequila
1 shot triple sec
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime

Blend with ice and serve in a salt-rimmed margarita glass. Garnish with a small stalk of rhubarb

Happy Hour in the High Peaks will be in Indian Lake this weekend, posting our review in the Adirondack Almanack on Wednesday.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whitewater Derby Mini Pub Crawl and 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

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
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.
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. From our parking space we could see into the dining room, where Jane, the owner, was waving to us. She even came out onto the porch to greet us, making us feel really special. She 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 there, 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!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe Day on Deck

Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey.

A couple of weeks ago, JD inundated us with advertising and we have been scouring the liquor stores ever since. I ran into my friend Cathy at the AT&T store. She had just been to Boston over the weekend and spotted JD Honey in a liquor store and thought of me (imagine that). Usually she thinks of me when she's in the grocery store and sees Snyder's jalapeno prezel bits. But that day, she whipped out JD Honey from her purse, right there in the AT&T store! I think my reputation is morphing. Anyway, I brought the tiny bottle home and Kim's eyes really lit up. We wasted no time cracking that puppy open and sipped right from the bottle, passing it around. Must be plenty of others were anxious to get their hands on some. Mohan's finally added it to their inventory and I wasted no time making a purchase, just in time for recipe night!

After reviewing various bar guides, it seemed that anything could be mixed with Jack Daniels.  We scoured the recipes then decided on the following blend (after a few tastes and adjustments):

Trail Mix

1 oz Jack Daniels Honey
1 oz chocolate vodka
1 oz Frangelico
Top with cranberry juice
Shake and pour into a tall glass over ice

Bottoms Up!
High Peaks Pammie

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Long Horn Restaurant & Pub

The Long Horn Restaurant and Pub at Lake Vanare in Lake Luzerne has been owned by Jeremy and Shannon Carner for three years. Right off the area snowmobile trail, they were kept very busy with an abundance of snow this winter. Glad to see some good come from that snow. In the summer months, the Long Horn caters to vacationers and motorcyclists. Lake Vanare, Fourth Lake and Lake George are all close by. In the immediate vicinity are camping, cabins for rent, an assortment of motels and vacation homes. A few dude ranches draw yet another crowd.

The exterior of the Long Horn boasts a rustic wood and brick theme. Patios adorn both sides, but were not yet set up for use. Upon entering through the bar entrance, the eye is drawn to a specials board mounted on the backside of a large fireplace, the centerpiece for both rooms. Slate and hardwood floors complement the fireplace; log rafters and pine paneled walls lend warmth. Pub tables on both sides of the room, only moderately distanced from the bar, were empty as we arrived, but filled up quickly. The dining room, which features another fireplace, is completely separate from the bar to afford a quieter atmosphere. A pool room at the other end offers enough seclusion to be a part of the bar scene, but to play a serious game.

The bar was full, but we found an empty pub table adjacent to the bar, close enough to feel a part of the crowd. We were immediately greeted by the waitress who took our drink orders and offered menus. Specialty drinks like the Almond Kiss, Hot Bootie and Peppermint Pattie, the usual liquor stock, and plenty of bottled and draft beer selections were available. The Long Horn also has a "mug club" with members' only discount benefits.

XM Radio music from our generation (not giving that one away) played at the right volume in the background. We found the patrons to be friendly almost immediately. We met a member of the local band, Hill Billy Rocker, who goes by the name of Wild Bill, and learned the story behind the moniker as well. Carl was just passing through from a window tinting job and had decided to stop in. He shared a story about already being mentioned in a book, and seemed to be looking forward to a new story along that line. Pat and Jim, whose business cards boast "snowbirds" as their occupation, overheard the summary of our endeavors and eagerly shared a story of a similar encounter in Myrtle Beach as well as the inside scoop on a number of fantastic local happy hour venues. Better keep an eye on those two!

We eventually settled in and ordered from the varied and creative menu. Evidence of the influence of Deadheads was discreet, but menu items cleverly named after Grateful Dead songs, a small framed drawing of Jerry Garcia, and a skull hidden above the fireplace quietly suggested we were among friends. We ordered a half-order of supreme nachos ($5.69), a chicken fajita wrap ($7.89), and Cosmic Charlie's Chili ($3.49 cup; $4.99 bowl). The nachos were indeed "supreme" and the wrap and chili both delivered an unexpected and subtle smoky flavor.

The Long Horn was closed for a week in April. The owners took a vacation, but it was obvious that the floor had just been resurfaced with polyurethane, a complete cleaning was performed and I believe I smelled fresh paint in the restroom. I admire a business willing to forego a week's income to freshen up for a new season.

Eventually a few stools opened at the bar and I was able to interview the bartender. Since most of the facts needed were available on their website, I didn't have to burden Leah with too many mundane questions. She confirmed that the Long Horn is closed on Tuesday all year round. My margarita was served in a pint glass, and I wanted to know if that was the norm or if we were getting special treatment. Leah's answer was this: "I'm Irish! If I can't get drunk, I'm going to get you drunk." Very quotable and evasive.

Cheers & Bottoms Up!
Kim & Pam

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recipe Day - The Bloody Oscar

We had big plans for that Bakon Vodka all along.  And here it is, named after Warrensburg's own iconic Oscar's Adirondack Smokehouse - The Bloody Oscar.  The garnishments were procured today: Oscar's Hickory Smoked Bacon Cheddar Cheese and Jerry's Jerky.  I stopped in to make the purchases and couldn't resist telling then what we were up to.  They hadn't heard of Bakon Vodka (or Happy Hour in the High Peaks), but I think they're in the smokehouse now, trying to find a recipe for SMOKED bacon vodka.  Or, they might be in there just smoking vodka.  This recipe is destined for the final publication.

The Bloody Oscar

2 oz Bakon Vodka
6 oz tomato juice
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp lemon juice
1 dash tabasco
1 dash black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes

Shake with ice and serve over ice. Garnish with celery and your favorite tidbits from Oscar's Smokehouse.

This is how we celebrated our first published interview on The Free George. 

Our review of the Long Horn Restaurant and Pub is posted on the Adirondack Almanack.

Bottoms Up!

High Peaks Pammie

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Recipe Day!

As promised, High Peaks Pammie has returned from Mohan's with Bakon vodka and a few other goodies. We were originally supposed to go to Basil & Wick's for the "Hooray Hooray, the First of May, Whitewater Derby's a Week Away" party, but decided instead that we needed to "work". With Whitewater Derby right around the bend, it was time to perfect the Whitewater Rushin'.

There was also the matter of moving the bar to the deck for the spring and summer season. We gathered many vodka flavors, the Sapling, Amaretto, Frangelico and whatever else we could and carried them from "Pammie's Pub" downstairs to "Pammie's on Deck".

Spring in the Adirondacks is a time when the sap starts flowing, and the rivers swell and overflow their banks (this year especially), creating the rushing waters for the annual Whitewater Derby in North Creek, NY. We needed a cocktail for this very special occasion.

We tried several versions (seven to be exact) and have come up with the official recipe, as well as an interesting variation.

Whitewater Rushin'
1 oz. Sapling Maple Liqueur
1/2 oz. Amaretto
1 oz. Vanilla Vodka
1/4 c. cream or milk

Shake with ice and strain over ice in a rocks glass. This is also a nice blender drink.

Feel free to make substitutions. Sapling is unavailable in most states, including New York, so real (please use real-not Mrs. Butterworth's) maple syrup can be substituted. The traditional White Russian is usually served in an old-fashioned glass, but my son Kaleb brought these beautiful gold-rimmed goblets back from a trip to Russia, so we felt compelled to use one.

As mentioned, Bakon Vodka was also on the menu today. Pam and I remember waking up on a cold May morning at the Ski Bowl in North Creek, where we had camped in her VW camper for Whitewater Derby weekend. There was a fresh inch of snow and the smell of bacon cooking from some nearby camp.

The Squealing Whitewater Rushin'
1 oz. Sapling Maple Liqueur
1 oz. Bakon Vodka
2 oz. light cream or milk

Shake with ice, strain over ice & garnish with bacon bits (not imitation).

Next week's review of Whitewater Derby festivities will likely be something of a North Creek pub crawl. As in all the years past, we will not be likely to see actual events. Also watch the Adirondack Almanack on Wednesday for our review of the Long Horn Restaurant and Pub, and maybe a little more craziness with the Bakon vodka.


I'm Off to Mohan's Today for the Bakon Vodka

I just can't wait any longer.  The last time I was in there, they were only selling the bakon (yes, that's how it is spelled on the bottle) vodka in  a large bottle and the clerk advised that they were trying to get smaller bottles.  I was very amused when I first saw it on the shelf and have been digging into various recipes online since.  There are several references to Elvis Presley associated with this particular vodka.  We're concocting a recipe for a Bloody Mary, certain to be named otherwise, and have other surprises  in mind for it as well.  I don't have any banana flavored liqueurs on hand...

Bottoms Up!

High Peaks Pammie