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, December 21, 2012

Recipe Day! Apocalypse? Winter Solstice?

Winter Solstice. First day of Winter. Yule. Return of the Light. End of the World. Apocalypse. No matter what you call it or your reason for drinking, we've created some festive cocktails in honor of this auspicious day.

Like most of us, you probably don't really believe the world is ending today. We like to think of it as the Mayans' inability to finish the calendar rather than the signifying of the end of time. Perhaps the project was just more work than the Mayans bargained for.

Here in the Adirondacks, winter officially arrived

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Prohibition Ends: 79th Anniversary Recipe Day!

How will you celebrate the 79th Anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition today?

Just when you thought it was just another Wednesday in December, Happy Hour in the High Peaks comes to your rescue, offering something auspicious to celebrate.  Pammy’s Pub has been dead for days as we work diligently to complete our writings for our upcoming book publication.  Suddenly revived, the cupboards on the bar have been flung open, and we’re looking for the ultimate way to celebrate the anniversary of the end of Prohibition.  We’re putting on our drinking caps, rolling up our sleeves and polishing our barware in preparation of the celebration.

Northern Adirondack backroads (weren’t they all then?) served as the perfect highway for running Canadian whisky. Tales of Adirondack bootleggers and runners tell of organized crime, speakeasies and bathtub gin. A little research on the Prohibition Era in the Adirondacks yielded the story of Pete Tanzini, a.k.a. Will O' the Wisp, Saranac Lake mason and accomplished race car driver.  Our first cocktail today is named in his honor.

Will O' the Wisp
1 ½ oz. gin
1 oz. black raspberry liqueur
½ oz. simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
Club soda
Shake with ice, pour into collins glass and top with club soda.

Named for Pete Tanzini's wife, Gussy Menzel Tanzini, this cocktail is based on the Mary Pickford, a popular Prohibition Era drink, but "Gussied up" a bit.

Gussied Up
2 oz. light rum
1 oz. Grand Marnier
2 oz. pineapple juice
1 tsp. grenadine
1 tsp. maraschino cherry juice
Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange section and a cherry.

Lemon and lime juice were regularly added to distilled spirits during Prohibition, particularly to those of the bathtub variety in order to make the often nasty stuff a little more palatable, especially for the ladies. The Hackensack Lemonade uses generous quantities of both.

Hackensack Lemonade
2 oz. Can

Saturday, November 17, 2012

JC Montana's, Lake George

Though only a few tables remained on the Mediterranean style raised terrace at JC Montana’s in early November, it was obvious that this would be a great place to sit and relax on a summer day. Located in the center of Lake George on Canada Street, just across from Shepard Park, JC Montana’s affords an opportunity to enjoy food and drinks with friends, watch passersby or listen to music either on site or from the nearby park.

The sandwich board outside boasted a plentiful array of seafood specials and the smells from the kitchen as we entered the restaurant and bar made it difficult to pass up. Instantly greeted by the bartender, Chris, we were immediately introduced to every person in the place. We met Katie the waitress and spoke at length with local patrons (and bar “enthusiasts”) Bear and Suzanne who shared their opinions of some of their favorite bars in the Adirondacks, past and present. The warmth from the gas fireplace was outdone by the welcome we received. If that type of atmosphere carries throughout the busiest days of summer, JC Montana’s would be a welcome rarity in Lake George.

Colors are warm and soft, as is the lighting, with an overall sparse and well-kept appeal. A chandelier of pumpkin-like glass orbs hangs over the bar, complemented with frosted pendant lights gently illuminating the blonde bar top. A large fish tank between the bar and dining area is a calm and pleasant distraction. Though the bar, rather standard in size, seats 12 to 14 in the cozy confines of the small bar area, three nearby tables offer bar-side dining with a view of Canada Street. Three additional dining rooms occupy further recesses of the restaurant.

Chris Montana (not to be confused with Chris the bartender or Chris the chef) has owned JC Montana’s for the past eight years. The building formerly housed the Trattoria Siciliana Restaurant and, before that, a sidewalk café converted from a classic summer home in Lake George Village. JC Montana’s is renowned for its seafood, particularly the steamers. The appetizers and lighter fare menu has a few “land-based” items in a modest price range.

JC Montana’s is open year-round, daily for lunch and dinner in the summer. During the fall they are open Thursday through Sunday for lunch and dinner and scale back to weekends, dinner only, during the winter. Happy Hour is offered daily from 4 to 7 p.m. A basic variety of liquors, a few flavored vodkas and more than a dozen mostly domestic bottled beers comprise the modest but adequate drink options. They feature a variety of drink specials including chocolate raspberry martinis, various flavored margaritas, huckleberry lemonade and frozen mojitos made from their own home grown mint. Chris seems to be a bartender willing and able to make whatever drink comes his way. Quite entertaining himself, he’s garrulous, outgoing, and full of little quips and quotable quotes as well. He’s entertainment enough off-season. Musical entertainment is featured outside during the summer and four televisions are more than sufficient for sports enthusiasts.

For the true appeal of Montana’s as a bar, visit them a little off the summer season so you can meet some locals (especially on Sundays) and take the time to enjoy the atmosphere in the quiet respite from the summer crowds. As Chris (the bartender) puts it, “The quality of the drink is only outdone by the quality of your company.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Recipe Night!

Waiting for election returns can make for a pretty long night. If you’re in it for the long haul, you may as well enjoy yourself! Whip up a nice beverage and sip one of these. It may just make the results a little easier to swallow. Whether you’re celebrating victory or drowning defeat, we’ve created a few fun cocktails this Election Day.

Hailing from Hawaii, home of macadamia and pineapple, Barack Obama’s birthplace inspired this drink. It will put you in a celebratory mood, no matter which row of the ballot you’re on.

Obama Mama
1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. coconut rum
1 oz. macadamia nut liqueur
½ oz espresso vodka
½ oz. lemon juice
Shake with ice and serve in a tall glass.

Now, we know Mitt Romney abstains from alcohol, but there’s no reason you can’t raise a glass and indulge in a Mitt Rumney cocktail. If you’re a teetotaler too, just leave out the booze and enjoy your cranberry juice cocktail. At least it comes from New England.

Mitt Rumney
1 oz. spiced rum
1 oz. light rum
1 oz. Whipped vodka
2 oz. cranberry juice
Splash of lemon
Stir and serve over ice in a rocks glass.

Red and blue are slowly filling the map as commentators wait for results, especially from the swing states. Pour yourself another one and get comfortable. It's just too close to call.

Swing State
1 oz. apple pie liqueur
1 oz. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
Gently shake or stir with ice and strain into a tall shooter. Sip or slam.

We’re not sure what to call this one. We had a name, and then changed it. We were influenced by our constituents to change the name yet again, so we call it…

The Waffle
1 oz. vanilla vodka
1 oz. espresso vodka
1 oz. Sapling maple liqueur
3 oz. orange juice
Shake and pour over ice in any clean glass you have handy.

We don’t recommend having all of them tonight, unless you’re staying put. No matter what the outcome, we hope we've made Decision 2012 just a little easier to swallow.

Cheers & Bottoms Up!
Kim & Pam

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Makes A Good Bar Attended?

 We’ve visited well over 100 bars in the Adirondack Park on our quest to find the best 46 bars in the Adirondacks, what we have termed as the 46 “High” Peaks. When we began our search, we didn’t have any preconceived notions about what would make a bar a 46-er. We have since chosen most of those 46. No two are exactly alike, and none has fit any absolute standard. A major factor in our determination, however, was that MOST people would feel comfortable at this bar. That criterion works both ways, in that some may be too haughty for MOST people, inasmuch as some may be too divey.  Honestly, there were very few too haughty. As we work toward our final reviews for our upcoming book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, we hope to be able to convey what can be expected at each of these Adirondack bars.  Each will offer varying atmosphere and amenities, but all have the potential for a good time.

What makes a good bar good is largely up to you!  If you bring a positive attitude and an open mind, you’re most likely to enjoy yourself anywhere. If you’re unruly, unresponsive or unconscious, it just might not be any fun for anyone. Most of us go out to a bar to socialize. Admit it, we could all save a lot of money if we stayed home to drink, but we sometimes crave that interaction with others and the mystery of what we might encounter. Whether you live in the area or are just visiting, going to a nearby pub can bring about new friendships, new experiences and even an overall feeling that the world is still a good place and people are generally kind.  

If you want to get drunk, stay home and get drunk! Even if you aren’t driving, drinking too much seldom leads to a good time for anyone.  Even if you do think you had a great time, chances are you won’t remember all the stupid s#1t you did.  Drunken people put the bartender and the bar at risk, and tend to become annoying in one way or another for those around them.  You can go out and have a good time without getting drunk.  If you start to feel buzzed, order something to eat. And, fer chrissakes, damn the diet! You need fatty foods to absorb the alcohol, so enjoy some delicious wings or mozzarella sticks and exercise it off tomorrow.  If you’re someone who has to have a drink in your hand, order a water or non-alcoholic beverage in between drinks to prolong your stay. 

Assuming that you are going to be a positive, non-inebriated bar attender, here are the other factors that determine a good bar attended:

1)     Bartender/Staff – The bartender will often make the biggest impression on your view of a bar.  A good bartender will improve your experience; never spoil it.  If you happen upon a surly bartender or a bartender with little personality, AND you aren’t the cause of the surliness, turn to the patrons around you or any comrades who accompanied you and expect no more than service from the bartender. You can still have a good time, and hope for a shift change during your visit.  On the other hand, an energetic, conversational and attentive bartender can make a good experience great. We have come upon some sensational bartenders, sometimes in the most unexpected places. There are some very small towns in the Adirondacks, with limited populations. These bar owners are fortunate to have found such professional bartenders in some very remote areas. For more insight on good bartenders, see Part I – What Makes a Good Bartender.

2)     Other Patrons – We have met so many nice people in these Adirondack pubs!  With very few exceptions, most people are eager to make your acquaintance. Remember, they are there for the social experience too. Even if you are with a group of people, meeting someone new is part of the charm of your bar attending experience. As long as you avoid politics, religion and APA-related conversations, you’re likely to get a positive response to any opening remark. If you get the feeling the person next to you is a local, ask something about the area or offer a compliment about it; but always be sincere. Sorry, we aren’t going to get into helping you pick up men or women; you’re on your own there. For more helpful hints on meeting people, see Part II – What Makes a Good Bar Attender.

3)     Atmosphere – Now that’s a very broad topic, covering everything from décor to cleanliness. Our point of view is that atmosphere isn’t everything, but it is something. If a bar has good staff and friendly patrons, the atmosphere matters a whole lot less. On the other hand, we’ve encountered great-looking bars with unfriendly staff and patrons. They didn’t make the 46-ers or even merit mention in our book. The diversity of atmosphere from one bar to another is immense, but each has its place. One bar on Lake Champlain has a Caribbean feel to it. Some have an Adirondack Great Camp appeal, while others are more hunting camp style.  There are old inns, both authentic and remodeled. Many bars are nostalgic, seemingly locked in one era or another. Some have a theme, like sports or hunting or skiing. Many of them seem unable to stick to one theme, trying to please everyone who enters. If you’re going to have a theme, you should pick ONE.  As Pam always says, “a coat of paint goes a long way”. If your entrance door or bathroom door is riddled with black handprints, throw a coat of paint on it. Maybe even add some color. If you have so much stuff collecting dust throughout your bar, maybe it’s time for a yard sale. If your bathroom doors don’t lock, fix them today!  If you have duct tape on your barstools, maybe it’s time to invest in new stools. If you’re open seven days a week, 365 days a year, close for a week and spruce up the place. Reinvest, if not money, then time, in your business – it will improve your bottom line. For the bar attender, you know what you like, but be open-minded about atmosphere. Sometimes different just feels good and you can’t even say why. 

     4)     Drinks – In the grand scheme, drink choices don’t matter. Craft beers are a crowd pleaser these days, but most people won’t walk out if a bar doesn’t have them. Happy Hour is nice to have, but it won’t make a bad bar good. Signature drinks are fun for all, as long as the bartender has the time to prepare. Some bars offer over-sized mixed drinks, a win-win situation. More mixer means more sobriety and the patron feels they’re getting more for their money. Many draft beer venues only offer pints. Not everyone wants that big of a drink, especially if they are trying new flavors. Offer choices. A bar that displays a large number of new flavored vodkas should have some recipe ideas on hand. Overall, like everything else, good value, or a perception of good value, does make a difference.

     5)     Food – We don’t review food, but we do have an opinion about it. Food is necessary to curtail the absorption of alcohol. The minimum of pub menu is sufficient. There is at least one bar on our 46-er list that doesn’t offer food. We will note that in our book and suggest that you eat before you go there, or don’t stay very long. A tiny bag of peanuts, potato chips or a pickled egg isn’t going to be enough to deter inebriation, especially if the drink prices are low.

6)     Entertainment – In the form of games, entertainment is a good aid in limiting drink consumption. It also acts to keep you more focused and alert. New friends can be made over a pool table. Quick Draw might be taxing to the bartender, but the added income to the bar and activity for patrons may offset the distraction. Musical entertainment, despite added cost, is still very popular in the Adirondack bars.

Like any adventure into the unknown, attitude is everything. As we often say, “You get out of a bar what you put into it.” No matter where you end up, there is always potential for a good time. Read the bartender and clientele first, sit back and observe, then gradually expand your interaction and make it more about “them” than about “you”. We guarantee that with a cautious approach, you’ll be making friends and having fun in no time!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Ole Barn, Inlet

It’s so BIG. If that isn’t your first impression when you enter The Ole Barn on Limekiln Lake Road in Inlet, then you must be from Texas or Montana. Bearing a ranch theme with wagon wheels, oversized ceiling fans and rough pine booths and walls, it feels like a bar that should be on the premises of a dude ranch, not the stand-alone bar that it is. Nearby Limekiln and Eighth Lake state campgrounds bring many patrons, but it is the snowmobilers in the winter that fill it to its capacity of 300. It reminded us of summer camp. Or what we imagine summer camp must be like.

The square bar, not quite centered in the bar area, easily seats 25 patrons. The wood simulated laminate top with red padded edges and matching backless stools welcomed us to sit and observe. A model train waited at its station overhead with a painted backdrop depicting a village scene. The train wasn’t running while we were there, but 350 feet of track take it throughout the restaurant, its cars sporting billboards in miniature advertising local businesses. Benched tables fill two walls and several round picnic tables try to fill some of the large space near the entrance. A collection of hundreds of caps covers a good portion of the plank ceiling. The spacious dining room is separated from the bar by a partition of booths.

Though beer taps can be seen behind the bar, the Ole Barn currently serves beer in cans only, in about a dozen varieties. As Pam looked over the diverse liquor selection behind the bar, she observed a few PVC pipes. Upon inquiry, we learned from our bartender, Allison, that they are portals for the Beer Can Express, the first we’ve ever seen or even heard about. Volunteering a demonstration, Allison explained that the cans are deposited in those pipes and are whisked off, bank tube style, for storage in a large silo located outside of the main building. There’s a fine example of Adirondack ingenuity!

With four televisions and a winter-based clientele, the Ole Barn is frequented by NASCAR fans.  Annually, the Old Barn hosts Zippy’s Crusade for Kids, a charity snowmobile ride put on by Greg and Nan Zipadelli. A two-day event to raise funds for kids in need, the fundraiser features food, music, an auction, and a celebrity autograph session sometimes attended by such NASCAR icons as Tony Stewart. The 2013 event will be held on January 25 and 26.

The Ole Barn offers live music during the winter for their snowmobile patrons. A pool table and lottery scratch tickets complete the entertainment offerings. They also host weddings, banquets and private parties. Family owned since 1967, and currently by Ron and Kathy Hausen, the restaurant specializes in homemade and Italian specials, among others, moderately priced. On the lighter side, salads, burgers, sandwiches and pizza are featured. More substantial entrees “from the barnyard” include ribs, NY strip, and chicken. “From the pond” you can select haddock, clams or calamari.

The Ole Barn has a Happy Hour daily from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. featuring $3.00 well drinks, domestic beers for $2.00 and draft beer, when available, for $1.50.  They are open year-round, but close between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving in the fall, and during mud season in the spring. They open at noon and close at 10 p.m. or later. They are open Thanksgiving Day, but closed on Christmas.

If you’re looking for a quiet place for an early afternoon drink and a bite to eat, stop by the Ole Barn during the summer months.  For a hopping place to go after a good snowstorm, the Ole Barn might not be so vast and quiet.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Cowboy, Lake Placid

The Cowboy was one of the more interesting finds after a couple of disappointments during our second visit to Lake Placid. Though seemingly a restaurant with a bar, we were excited when presented with an extensive drink menu. The restaurant has an equally interesting dinner menu, but that’s just wasted on us. 
Neil, the bartender, extremely knowledgeable in his trade, seemed to know a lot about the variety of liquors they carry, and is possibly responsible for the overall diversity behind the bar. The refreshing element of Neil’s wisdom was the no-nonsense way he imparted information without coming across as a know-it-all. He had a dry sense of humor, best saved for his martinis, that we enjoyed immensely. In his knowledge of mixers and liquors, he was more like a highly trained chef, but with personality. He seemed to be one of those mixologists who could make something tasty out of whatever he had on hand.

The specialty cocktail menu, with prices ranging from $7 to $11, includes some unique blends like the Western Sunset, the Cowboy Manhattan, and the Mango Margarita. Pam, who has been trying to bring back the whisky sour, was pleased to see the Pale Rider Whisky Sour made with High West silver whisky as a featured drink. But it was the Black and Blue 46er that caught her eye as the one to try. With Maker’s 46 bourbon, blackberry and blueberry juice, lemon juice, and agave nectar, garnished with fresh blueberries and blackberries, she made those yummy noises as she drank it (when Kim finally released it from its photo shoot). Kim opted for a Summer Basil; a savory summer sipper made from fresh basil, Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain and lemon juice. Bottled beer ranges from $3.50 for a Miller Lite to $5 for Red Stripe, Guinness (pint can), Corona, Dos Equis, and Pilsner Urquell. Wine (five red, five white) are priced from $8 to $11 a glass.

Owners Vicki and Rob Breyette, both world-traveled chefs who have lived and worked in such locations as London and the Netherlands, have been operating the Cowboy for over a year. They bring their world travel to Lake Placid with a unique menu and the prowess to extend to the bar. Vicki and Rob acquired the former Caribbean Cowboy, located just down the street, and quickly made it their own, running it for the past ten years. While the Cowboy has taken many staff and several menu items with it, the Cowboy is not the same restaurant as its predecessor.

Decidedly not West Texas cowboy in décor, a somewhat confusing combination of color and accessory suggest southwest. Or perhaps Ireland. Dark stained pine paneled walls are brightened by a generous number of windows and boldly painted accent walls of orange and green. A saddle, holster, and leather stirrups are casually placed on partitions. Skis, cowboy hats, and artwork hang on the walls and assorted plants and cacti are everywhere.

The bar at the Cowboy is open from 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily in the summer; closed on Wednesdays in the fall. Happy Hour specials are available from 4 to 6 p.m. every day except Sunday. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m., and open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The menu leans toward Asian, with everything in-between. From clam chowder to gazpacho, jerk chicken to Vietnamese meatballs, and burgers to lamb patties, the Cowboy presents a variety of freshly prepared offerings to please any palate, at somewhat steep prices. Soups are $7, appetizers $10 to $12, and tavern entrees are priced from $22 to $34. Sandwiches, burgers and small plates range from $12 to $18.

The bar seats ten, but surrounding tables can be used for dining or as an extension to the bar. The deck in front can do the same for dinner. The deck is spacious, with a small fire pit and cheerful red tables overlooking the street and would be a nice place to relax in the cool evening into night. Located on Saranac Avenue, somewhat off the main drag, The Cowboy is a favorite for locals and tourists to intermingle and enjoy a little something out of the ordinary in Lake Placid.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Liquids and Solids at the Handlebar, Lake Placid

What was beginning to feel like a wasted (no pun intended) trip to Lake Placid finally began to take a turn for the better. Originally arriving too early, we returned to Liquids and Solids at the Handlebar close on the heels of the 4 p.m. (opening time), at the recommendation of the staff at a previous venue. We had considered skipping it to continue exploration of Tupper Lake after two of our three previous bar visits proved to be disappointing, but it turns out we weren't sorry we backpedaled to give Liquids and Solids a proper review.

The long bar stretched out a hand in greeting, which we accepted. Lights with bare bulbs, painted dark, hung over the bar, adding a mysterious light for early afternoon. Eggplant colored walls breathed calm as they showcased their quirky and intriguing artwork. Random details added a tasteful touch of whimsy to the simple shapes and spare ornamentation in the dining area. Plants and fresh flowers popped their lively heads from artfully labeled beer bottles, a theme we were later to discover was carried into the ladies' room. Beer and wine menus, handwritten in wide black marker on large paper grocery bags, hung from clipboards behind the bar.

The bar seats 15, a little too closely, but it wasn't crowded at the time of our visit.  The barroom is cozy, with pub tables strategically placed near the bar, and standard tables for four were scattered toward the back. They offered privacy in their sparseness and an opportunity to enjoy the varied artwork on the walls.

The liquids, of course, were what we were after and we fairly drowned in the deluge. A selection of more than 20 red, white and sparkling wines from France, Chile, Argentina, Italy, South Africa, Australia and California are listed at $8 to $11 a glass. The cocktail menu features more than a dozen fresh and creative specialties, priced between $8 and $12 and lists ingredients from fresh herbs to vinegar. Draft and bottled beer prices vary from $3.50 to $27.

Pam immersed herself in the cocktail menu. Painstakingly prepared with many fresh and homemade ingredients, the potent concoctions include the Cilantro Daiquiri, Guava Margarita with a lime sugar rim, the Balsamic Fizz featuring basil and balsamic vinegar, and Smoked Lemonade and Bourbon Tea. She decided on the Rum and Raisin, a cocktail of generous proportions made from The Kraken black spiced rum, lime juice, raisin clove apple juice, and orange and pineapple juice garnished with raisins and an orange slice.

Meanwhile, it was Kim's turn to suffer indecision as she examined the beer list consisting of six drafts, several cans, and well over 100 bottles in various serving sizes. There are 22 IPAs alone! Also, a dozen or so Belgian strong ales, a bunch of stouts, and multitudes of others - trappists, triples, porters, reds, browns, lagers, saisons, Italians and Belgians to list just a few. Unable to resist a Belgian ale, or her curiosity, she settled on a Delirium Tremens, served in an oversized wine glass for $6.

Liquids and Solids, owned by Keegan Konkoski and chef Tim Loomis for the past two years, has been transformed from a local dive to a gastropub of constantly changing culinary surprises featuring homemade sauces, purees, stocks and syrups using whatever the local farmers have to offer. Making nearly everything themselves and using locally produced ingredients allows the pair to keep their prices down. Featuring mostly small plates of such ambitious offerings as charcuterie, ratatouille, barbecued sweetbreads, fried pork liver, polenta, and saffron cavatelli, the restaurant offers a handful of full-sized entrees and some daily specials at fairly small prices. They are open all year, but close for Memorial Day weekend annually. The bar is open from 4 p.m. until midnight Tuesday through Sunday in the summer and Tuesday through Saturday in the winter months. 

Outside, up a small flight of stairs toward the back, the rooftop deck feels more like a garden than a deck. Potted flowers and herbs abound and color pervades. Stripes provide a backdrop on a wall of window frames, whimsically placed. No service is offered from the bar, but patrons are welcome to bring their drinks and enjoy the scenery here. Tables on a patio in front do receive service from the bar and restaurant, but the tranquility is sacrificed.

The creative juices are flowing at Liquids and Solids. In both menu and venue, enjoy the whimsy that the name invokes.

Thirsty Moose Pub & Grub, Childwold

Where have all the young people gone? Having spent 19 months reviewing bars, taverns and dives in the Adirondacks, the thought had crossed our minds, but we never vocalized it. We just assumed they came out later. Like vampires. Not during the afternoon and evening. Not during Happy Hour. Or maybe they just restricted themselves to larger venues like Lake Placid and Lake George. We found them one Wednesday afternoon in July, at the Thirsty Moose Pub & Grub in Childwold, somewhere between Cranberry Lake and Tupper Lake.

Seated at a picnic table outside, several of them greeted us on our way into the Thirsty Moose, then joined us at the bar. Except for one man in his seventies or eighties, who disappeared shortly after our entrance, the patrons and the bartender, Crystall, were all younger than 30.  As we began talking about signature drinks with Crystall, which led to a brief synopsis of our quest for the 46 best bars (the “High Peaks”) in the Adirondacks, they became animated and inquisitive. We shared some of our own drink recipes with them, and before we knew it, Crystall was taking orders from Christie, eager to bestow some of the Thirsty Moose’s favorites on us.

We started with the Tic Tac - orange vodka and Red Bull, the orange vodka shot separately contained within a rocks glass filled with Red Bull (a bomber shot). Pam tried to suppress the hiccup that always accompanies her quick consumption of carbonated beverages, let out a loud one, and finished the drink, shooter style. Mickey Sylvester, owner of the Thirsty Moose, joined us and wanted to share his favorite, the Washington Apple, a tradition at the Thirsty Moose. Christie got the disco ball going and a memorable Happy Hour was underway. The jukebox played in the background, mostly 70’s rock, the mood one of ageless camaraderie as we joked about the disco ball.

The Thirsty Moose Pub & Grub is open year-round, at 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and at noon Friday through Sunday.  It’s closed on Monday. Though no formal Happy Hour designation exists, the drink prices are very reasonable. Regular domestic bottled beer (20+ flavors) is $2.75.  Higher end bottles are $3.50, and draft (Bud Light) is $2.25. Red and white wines are available for $4.00, and shots and mixed drinks vary in price.

The dining room, with its red tablecloths and neat white chairs, is in an adjoining room away from the bar. A menu of burgers, steaks, seafood, chicken and more lists prices from $7.95 to $24.95. Bar nibbles of the mostly fried variety range from $2.50 to $11.95.

Formerly known as Dumas’s, Mickey and Jan Sylvester bought and renamed the Thirsty Moose ten years ago. The building appears to have been remodeled or upgraded inside and out fairly recently. A semi-circle of dark mahogany or cherry, the handcrafted bar is the focal point of the room, and perfectly conducive to conversation. Worth mention is the ladies’ room, which Pam described as “impeccable”.

In the rare event that the staff and clientele aren’t amusement enough, Quick Draw is on site along with a pool table, dartboard, several televisions and a jukebox stocked with non-disco music. The ring game, best described as a ring on a string attached to the ceiling, challenges expert and novice to get the ring on the hook on an opposite wall. Those who have mastered it make it look easy. Five cabins are available for rent, if you want to stick around until you master the game.

As a meeting place for so many, the Thirsty Moose entertains bikers, vacationers, seasonal hunters, snowmobilers and, of course, everyday fun seekers. The Childwold Snopackers meet at the Thirsty Moose monthly, either planning or relaxing after grooming the nearby snowmobile trails.

A “For Sale” sign is inconspicuously on display outside, but we got the impression that Mickey would be hard pressed to let it go. It seems his staff is more like family than employees, and his customers more like friends.

“This is Cheers,” is how Alex, a not-so-local from Lake Placid, described the Thirsty Moose Pub & Grub.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

P-2's, Tupper Lake

The brick building, trim and neat, stands just feet from the sidewalk on Main Street in Tupper Lake. P-2’s Irish Pub, illuminated in red and green neon, replaces its former moniker, Al’s Lounge. Inside, a suit of armor standing guard at the pool table silently observes our entrance. Dimly lighted with amber pendants and recessed spotlights, the interior’s Irish pub characteristics gradually come to light. The curved bar a rich, dark wood with red padded front, shows signs of its age and character. Old cigarette burns mar the top, scars of forgotten conversations and decades of good times. Arrow back bar stools match the studded green faux leather walls, padded for comfort. Tin ceiling, oak woodwork, worn wood floor and round, solid oak pub tables surrounded by sturdy backless stools all lend warmth, character and charm in this intimate space.

Our last stop on day one of the Happy Hour in the High Peaks 2012 Summit Tour, we found P-2’s Irish Pub living up to its motto: The Place to be in the Adirondacks. Two couples were eating, drinking and relaxing at a pub table to the side. A half dozen women clustered at the end of the bar, laughing, drinking, and engrossed in conversation appeared to be well known to Debbie, the bartender. Debbie greeted us right away, ready to take our orders. Beer selection was a no-brainer for Kim, who spotted among the eight draft handles a Plucky Rooster (Plattsburgh), as yet untapped in her repertoire, and with an interesting history. Tired after four hours of pub crawling, Pam fell into her usual safety net – a vodka and grapefruit.

One by one, people just kept arriving. Clientele is mixed between locals and visitors, but you might find it difficult to discern the two. Behind the bar, Debbie was friendly and attentive to both. A local named Dan summed it up as a regular pub with good people, good staff, good music and open to visitors. Pam accosted two couples from Canada as they prepared to leave on their motorcycles. They shared their thoughts about their first visit to P-2’s, reporting good food, friendly service and added that Debbie was extra helpful with information about the area. We spoke with a number of regulars who had nothing but praise for P-2’s and its staff. When we started asking questions, Debbie pointed out the owner, a woman gradually making her way down the bar, stopping to greet every patron along the way. We were told she’d eventually get to us. We were talking to Henry, our bar neighbor (and the Patriot Chef), as Michelle approached. Henry has created a line of seasonings and sauces, which P-2’s uses and Michelle wholeheartedly endorses. Thanks for the Loyalty sample Henry!

We finally introduced ourselves and our purpose to P-2’s owner, who filled us in on the pub’s history and took us on a tour. Al’s Lounge was founded in 1966 by Joseph “P-2” LeBlanc, but its history really dates back to 1949, when it was known as Ivan’s Lounge. Six years ago it was acquired by Joseph’s daughter, Michelle LeBlanc Blair, and revamped into P-2’s Irish pub, named in honor of her father.

P-2’s has since expanded with the opening of the Franklin Dairy Music Hall, a converted barn located behind the pub.  The barn was home to the Franklin Dairy until the 1980s and had been used for storage. Following much restoration and renovation, P-2’s hosted its first concert this past July. Deemed a smashing success, the old dairy aroma was replaced with the essence of stale beer!

It’s a small pub but seems able to handle any amount of activity. The full size bar seats 10 to 12. Six tables accommodate at least two dozen more patrons, and P-2’s still has room for a pool table and darts. Two large screen televisions are enough to follow your favorite game, but not be consumed by it. Team photos and collages attest to P-2’s community spirit. They seem to sponsor a team for everything! Open WiFi is available to customers. An ATM is on site, possibly for Quick Draw enthusiasts, but Visa and MasterCard are also accepted. Parking is available in the adjoining lot, or on the street, and P-2’s is located just one block from the snowmobile trail.

P-2’s is open year round, opening at 2 p.m. in the summer and closing at 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Sunday. In the winter, they open at 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Happy Hour is daily from 4 to 7 p.m all year long. Music is a staple at P-2’s with open mic night most Thursdays, featured artists in the pub on Friday and Saturday, the Outdoor Summer Music Series under the tent, and more in the works in the music hall! See their website and Facebook page for up-to-date listings.

Drink specials range from the signature Blue Margarita to a P-2’s style Black & Tan, with spontaneous drink options in between. And it’s the only place in town that serves Guinness on tap. In addition to the draft beers, an interesting array of bottled and canned varieties rounds out the rather nice selection. All of their food is rumored to be the best, but their chicken wings, chicken breast dippers and sweet potato fries are favored among some of the patrons on hand. Pricing is quite modest, as most menu items are priced under $10.00.

Offering outstanding service, loyal and happy customers, modest prices, and a musical hotspot, we found P-2’s claim as The Place to be in the Adirondacks to be accurate. At least in the Tupper Lake region. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

HHHP's Vacation Souvenirs

It may seem like Happy Hour in the High Peaks is on permanent vacation as we tour the Adirondack Park in pursuit of the best bars the region has to offer, but sometimes we just need a change. It was time to replace the mountain peaks with a flatline view of the edge of the earth and the sharp, briny scent of the sea. The Atlantic was calling.

I left Pam, my HHHP partner in crime, behind for a few days while I went camping with my family (remember them?) on the "other" cape in Massachusetts, Cape Ann.

Souvenir shopping, a ritual endured for years while camping with kids who bled our finances dry for such nonsense as beach buckets, slurpies and trashy trinkets, is now a pleasure. Skipping the gift shops and tee shirt stores (with the exception of Gloucester's Harbor Goods) led me to more creative and tasty treasures.

Beer, wine and liquor, particularly regional, is a practical and greatly appreciated gift to bring back to the friends (or yourself) at home. What better way to relive some vacation moments from the doldrums of your own home? With the doldrums of your own family.

My haul began in the New Hampshire liquor store, conveniently located at a rest area (!) along route 93. Armed with my list, compiled weeks before, I shopped the liquor aisles with glee. First I got the staples Pam requested for Pammy's Pub. Then a look at the vodka aisle to see what new flavors sparked creativity. The liqueur lane held such delicacies as limoncello and maple liqueur, though I was disappointed not to find the promised Sapling Maple (Vermont) that I simply will not go without. I chose a bottle of Fabrizia Limoncello, since it's made in New Hampshire (buy local!) and the price was drastically low.

Not really expecting to find it anyway, I saved the best for last. I was looking for a bottle of Laddie 10 Scotch. Pam and I had learned of its existence while reviewing the Cowboy in Lake Placid and its name dictated that we must own a bottle. I do like sipping scotch on occasion; it's my winter comfort drink, but flavor was not a factor in this purchase (I had never tried it) but it was the name I was after. To my astonishment, I located the coveted jewel and gulped at the price (apparently also not a factor). "What the hell, I'm worth it!" I thought to myself, hoping my husband was nowhere near the cash register to witness the final total. I look forward to the occasion which prompts the opening of the Laddie 10 ten-year-old single malt I will report when the seal is broken and the contents have been sampled.

Another must-have is something from the Cape Ann Brewing Company, and the Fisherman's Catch collection of Fisherman's Brew, Ale, IPA and Sunrise Saison serves multiple tastes. On impulse, just because they were there, I also selected a Shipyard Brewing Company's (Portland, ME) Smashed Pumpkin Ale (9% ABV) and Blue Hills Brewery's (Canton, MA) Watermelon Wampatuck Wheat. Again, I look forward to reviewing each and every one of these when I hold the beer session.

Always on the lookout for cocktail glasses, I found a nice old copper pitcher for Pam and some daisy wine glasses in a consignment shop. Four glasses for eight bucks! Can't beat that. We'll need them for the recipe section of the book.

Souvenir shopping is all about what you put into it. Do you really need another shot glass or tee shirt with "Atlantic City" or "Lake George" emblazoned on the front? No. Better to contribute to the local economy by supporting local companies. Think about that as you peruse the shops in the next tourist trap. Reflect on craftsmanship and product pride. Buy the wine, beer, liquor, food, candy, books or other products readily available and made wherever you go. You won't be sorry.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Trails End, Tupper Lake

Trails End is a classic roadhouse bar located just outside Tupper Lake on Route 30. Step out the front door and look around. Surrounded by mountains, water and trees, a few barely discernible dwellings dot the landscape. Located at the convergence of Tupper Lake, Simon Pond, Raquette Pond, and the Raquette River, Trails End earns the distinction of being the bar with the best view in Tupper Lake, with some of the nicest people.

As we stepped from our V-6 (not our V-twin), we received a friendly greeting from the pair of musicians seated with their guitars on a long bench on the porch. Thursday is open mic night at Trails End and some like to get there early to warm up, be it musically or otherwise. Trails End is a self-proclaimed biker bar, but don’t think non-bikers are not welcome.

The bartender, Christine, greeted us right away and made us feel at home with her polite, hospitable and professional manner. She prides herself on making the best Bloody Mary in the Adirondacks. When Pam told her that Sporty, of Sporty’s Iron Duke Saloon in Minerva, has the best she has encountered, Christine begged to differ. Pam was enjoying her ruby red and vodka beverage too much to make the switch, but vowed to be back for a taste test. Maybe stop at Sporty’s for a re-taste, then on to Trails End for the comparison. Perhaps Sporty will come along to see for himself?

Inside we found the standard roadhouse attractions – pool table, dartboard (Trails End has a winter dart league), one television, and, mounted on the wall beside the door, the first breathalyzer machine we’ve encountered in our travels. Photos, pins, patches, posters and bumper stickers hang on the walls where the biker theme prevails. Seating at the bar is plentiful enough to accommodate 12 stools with lots of elbow room for pint lifting, and plenty more room for standing or circulating. A long counter sits along the front row of windows overlooking Route 30.

The liquor selection is more than the standard fare, and some trendy flavored liquors make an appearance. Beer is pretty straightforward - several primarily domestic bottled brands (with a couple of surprises) and Yuengling and Switchback draft. The bar food is of the roadhouse snack persuasion, with bagged chips and nuts, smoked meat sticks, and maybe a jar of pickled something too.

The nicest feature we found at Trails End was the people. At first reluctant, curiosity soon coaxed a few of the patrons out of their shells and they were soon telling their stories. We spoke at length with Darcy, a regular who shared her views on Tupper Lake politics and expressed frustration over the land development controversy currently driving a wedge between the residents. She also spoke of some of the more positive aspects of this town of roughly 4000 inhabitants mired in a long economic downturn.

Kenneth, one of the musicians who greeted us, invited Kim and her camera on a sunset tour of the multiple views from the Trails End’s vantage point. Delicately placing his guitar on the bench outside, he pointed out the various bodies of water and distant mountains, naming them all like a proper tour guide, his words bathed in the gilded warmth of the setting sun. He spoke of friends and neighbors who look out for one another and lend a helping hand when needed. Whether it’s funding for medical bills or stocking the food pantry, Kenneth reports that the owner organizes poker runs and is always quick to prompt his customers to contribute what they can.

Owned by biker Mark “Beard” Sutliff since the early 1980s, the business has been in operation since the 1920s. After a journey of miles of winding wilderness, its corner position and log exterior make it a visible and welcome sight for the weary traveler. Trails End is open year-round, from noon until as late as 3 a.m. seven days a week. Happy Hour is offered from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Though we didn’t get to meet Beard, we shared the story of our quest for the best 46 bars in the Adirondacks with our new friends. We had lost track of the exact number, but mentioned at the time that we had visited ninety-something bars. Later, while tallying our spoils, we learned that Trails End was actually the 100th bar visited since we started in January, 2011!  In retrospect, it’s probably best we didn’t know at the time because they would have wanted to celebrate that milestone as much as we would have! 

If you’re a biker, you most likely already know about Trails End. If not, stop in anyway. It’s easy to find, the view is spectacular, and the people are some of the nicest you’ll meet. Just don’t forget your Good Bar Attender manners.