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, September 24, 2011

Adirondack Bar & Grill, Queensbury

Barely inside the Blue Line, the Adirondack Bar and Grill on Route 149 in Queensbury is our southernmost venue in the eastern part of the Adirondack Park. Known as Len & Peg’s nearly 10 years ago, and in the ‘70s as Two Squires, the Adirondack Bar and Grill has been owned by Jim Valastro for the past 9 years. Known for their community involvement, they host fundraisers throughout the year for the well-known Make-A-Wish Foundation and the lesser known Leather and Lace motorcycle club.

Spacious, grassy grounds with a few mature trees provide the comfort of shade in an otherwise sunny backyard. The parking lots on two sides can readily accommodate a large crowd for fundraising activities and serve as a launch pad for snowmobiles. On this early September afternoon, the deck out back appeared to have potential for plenty of seating, but was not set up for use.

Rustic wood and mounted deer heads and fish are the theme for the bar area. Unfinished plank walls brighten the interior and lend their piney scent. With seating for 16 to 18 patrons, the long bar could easily seat more if needed. Several tables dispersed around the bar offer additional seating for overflow or just a little more privacy.

Our Adirondack Bar and Grill guide for the afternoon, avid hunter and Adirondack outdoor writer Dan Ladd, places this tavern among his favorite local meeting places any time of year, categorizing it as a workingman’s bar and a traveler’s restaurant. (We still haven't determined if we are related to Dan, but we definitely have some interests in common.) You can follow Dan online at Adkhunter.com. During the summer, the restaurant is most often populated with people passing to and from eastern New York and other easterly states. In the winter, the Adirondack Bar and Grill is a popular spot on the Warren and Washington County snowmobile trail. Once the dead end of Washington County’s sled route, the trail now connects with Warren County’s, opening access all the way to Maine. Locals and tourists can comfortably co-mingle at the bar.

The bar is open year round, 7 days per week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 12 or 1 a.m. on the weekend. They are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Single and duo acoustic entertainment is featured regularly on Fridays and occasionally on Saturday, and our host, Dan, has been known to appear here as a soloist himself. Happy Hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and the complimentary hors d'oeuvres are purported to be beyond the ordinary Happy Hour offerings.

Although they don't boast unique drinks, our bartender, Laurie, was happy to create something unique for Pam based on her base request for flavored vodka. It's generally a beer and basic mixed drink bar, but they seemed willing and able to accommodate special orders. A modest variety of drafts and over 20 bottled beers are served here. Although Kim didn’t get to try anything new to her, the Sam Adams Seasonal hit the spot.

A wide selection of bar fare is served including sandwiches, burgers, nachos (we had the loaded nachos) and chicken wings, all in the $6 to $10 range. Thursday is wing night: $4.95 a dozen, starting at 6 p.m. (no takeout for this deal) and a prime rib dinner is featured on Saturdays.

Whether stopping in for a drink, food or both, the Adirondack Bar and Grill meets a variety of tastes and preferences. Like so many we have visited before, this one deserves a wintertime visit.

Cheers & Bottoms Up!
Kim & Pam

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Judd's Tavern Lake George

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

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

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

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

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

Coconut Dream Pudding Shots

We have a new recipe for pudding shots from our Connecticut connections. Found Coconut Cream pudding in my cupboard. Working out the details now, then have to freeze. Just dreaming of what can be mixed with Coconut Creme... Reviewed the recipe again - calls for freezing for 4 hours! How can you do a shot that has been frozen? We might have to modify this recipe. Calls for milk - that's harder to come by than 1 cup of liquor. For the record, we have to modify the recipe because it makes 40+ servings. This recipe is brought to us by the Flying Beavers of Woodbury, CT. We haven't met them, but they are friends of a friend type of thing.
Ok, they've only been in the freezer for 15 minutes and they are certainly not "potable". They are completely frozen. Do we thaw and enjoy? Here's the recipe we created:

Coconut Cream Pudding Shots
1/3 package coconut cream pudding
1/3 cup milk
1/9 cup chocolate vodka
1/9 cup amaretto
1/9 cup creme de cacao
1/3 tub Cool Whip

We are moments away from consumption, and want to know the proper method for these delicious concoctions. We can only think spoon at this time.

Alright, we're back, we figured it out, and we're idiots. I think the intent was to pour the mixture into a small, squeezable cup (like the ketchup cups at McDonald's). We obviously used the wrong vessel (see photo). Have you ever eaten pudding with a straw? They taste delicious though and the little bits of coconut that must have been in the box of pudding add a nice texture.

Lesson learned - keep the bartender out of the kitchen. We scooped the leftovers into a little popable ice cube tray and are looking forward to trying them tomorrow.

Bottoms Up and Cheers!
Pam Ladd and Kim Ladd

Friday, September 9, 2011

Duffy's Tavern, Lake George

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Waterhole, Saranac Lake

We entered the Waterhole on a hot summer afternoon, finding relief from the heat in the cool, dim interior. Cave-like, the bar’s stone and mortar walls revealing its age, terra cotta tile floors sturdy and worn. The pine bar with its copper top suggested a practical sense of simplicity and function as well as longevity.

The bartender cautiously greeted us, having gently reminded a patron to watch his language. We weren’t sure if that was for our benefit or if the Waterhole has a “no swearing” policy. The beer menu was adequate though not impressive, but the prices were pretty reasonable. Our round of three beers and a vodka and grapefruit came to just $14. The Waterhole is strictly a bar, but you can get chips or peanuts if you need to munch.

The Waterhole will not appeal to everyone. If you like and feel comfortable in a "biker bar", you should feel at home here. Pam used to be a biker, riding her own Harley Sportster, but even she was a little uncomfortable here. She didn't take any notes, and seemed to be ready to move on before giving it a chance.

After playing pool, we ventured outside and never came back in. Bench seating, covered by an upstairs porch, seems to be the fair-weather place to be at the Waterhole. When we arrived, there were more people outside than in, wilting in the heat. The people were friendly, if not a bit curious. We met a woman named Janet who happened to know Kim's husband, and eventually realized she knew Pam's husband as well. Janet's companion lives in the Saranac Lake area and was extremely helpful in advising other places to visit, though he had never been to Grizle-T's across the street.

Self-proclaimed Godfather of the Saranac Lake Music scene, the Waterhole opened in 1970. Built in the late 1800’s as a livery and stables with living quarters above, the building has undergone a few transformations since then. In the mid 1980’s, the upstairs was renovated to accommodate an open and spacious music lounge, bringing in bands from near and far. In contrast to the downstairs interior, upstairs at the Waterhole is bright and open with exposed beams in the cathedral ceiling and a blue and white tile floor. Roots rock, bluegrass, blues and rock bands regularly take the stage for enthusiastic audiences. In 2011, in conjunction with celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Waterhole hosted live music on each of the 10 nights of Saranac Lake’s winter carnival. Thursdays are Party on the Patio days featuring live music outside, stone walls creating the backdrop.

Located at 43 Main Street in Saranac Lake, the Waterhole is open every day from noon to 3 a.m. According to the patrons we met, the Waterhole is a fun place to be and open to newcomers. Locals, hippies, bikers, college students and visitors all feel at home and find it one of the best places around for live music.