A Craft Kingdom: Belly up to Saranac Lake’s Bar Scene
There’s nothing better than a cold beer after a day spent outdoors. Well, except if that cold beer is a carefully crafted microbrew…and there’s scores of others waiting. You’ll find that and more – including curated collections of spirits and creative cocktails – here in Saranac Lake.
Great Hall Bar
While you can expect hard cider, local craft beer, wine, and an impressive list of whiskies and bourbons in this second-floor Hotel Saranac–based lounge that looks like it was pulled from the pages of The Great Gatsby, its unique craft cocktail program is what really draws the crowds. Focusing on iconic Italian drinks, the options range from bitter and bracing Negronis to light and effervescent Americanos.
Bitters & Bones
Embracing what can only be called an “edgy lumberjack vibe” with decor starring rough-hewn wood and a giant moose skull over a fireplace mantel, this recently remodeled tavern on Broadway Street serves up the town’s most unique drink special: beer and bourbon. More specifically, for one price, you get both a beer and a shot of a bourbon (the most expensive option, at $10, is a shot of Knob Creek and a 16-ounce craft draft of your choice). Prefer your bourbon in a cocktail? Try something called the Maple Makers Manhattan, featuring Makers Mark, local organic maple syrup, and homemade chocolate bitters.
This tiny, narrow downtown bar with a warm oaky interior carries one of the biggest craft beer medleys in the Tri-Lakes, with 14 drafts and even more bottle options that cater to hop heads with an emphasis on IPAs. If you’re looking for something to share over one of the many games the bar provides (including backgammon, Connect 4, Guess Who, Scattergories, and Phase 10), ask about their “Fish Bowl,” a rum-based mixed drink served in – what else? – a fish bowl.
Another iconic craft beer bar, this downstairs laid-back lounge prides itself in offering one of the largest selections in the Adirondacks – they even boast about how many craft options they brought to the region in past years on their website. (In 2017 alone, we’re talking 151 different craft beers from across 53 different breweries.) As for local Adirondack micro-suds, the latest offerings from Lake Placid Brewery and Great Adirondack Brewery are always on tap. Feel the bass pulsing from their upstairs lounge? Waterhole is also Saranac Lake’s most famous live music venue.
Liquids & Solids at the Handlebar
This eggplant-colored gastropub embodies a hipster vibe that utilizes both upscale wood tones and low-brow things like clipboards and wood crates. The “liquids” part of the name speaks to the unadulterated four-page bibliotheque of beers, as well as an assortment of more than 20 red, white, and sparkling wines from France, Chile, Argentina, Italy, South Africa, Australia, and California. But the beverages shine most in the cocktail menu, featuring more than a dozen fresh and creative specialties prepared with homemade ingredients, like the local favorite Balsamic Fizz (basil, balsamic vinegar, strawberry juice, soda water, and vodka).
Top of the Park
An expertly curated selection of scotch and bourbon is the hallmark of this upscale bar overlooking Mirror Lake. Not only does it offer some of the finest options in the Adirondacks (or the state, for that matter), the staff is well-versed when it comes to suggesting a scotch or bourbon to meet a guest’s tastes. The current centerpiece on the program: the newly released Highland Park Odin, a 16-year single malt scotch with only 17,000 bottles ever produced.