Friday, January 14, 2011

Happiest Hour: The Missoula Club

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 3:35 PM

The skies are gray, the work week's been long and our tired minds are screaming for an escape that only a frosty pint and a flat-screen can provide. Given that NFL season is waning, and that we're so very close to downtown here at the office, we decided to go with an oldie and a goodie this week. See you at the taps.

This week: The Missoula Club

Atmosphere: Arguably one of Missoula’s go-to watering holes for University of Montana football fans, the Mo Club boasts wall upon wall of Griz memorabilia, from team photos and coach portraits to signed footballs and helmets. No surprise really that the bar has inherited so much material; the Mo Club’s been around since 1890. If you want a spirited game day experience, or the chance to rub shoulders with past and present Griz players, this is the place to be.

Who’s serving: Jace Palmer is a familiar face in these parts. Besides his Mo Club career, he played as a defensive end for the Griz from 2005 to 2009. He racked up 5.5 sacks in his final season, as well as one interception, making him the perfect bartender for the regular lunch crowd of shop-talking NFL fans.

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What you’re drinking: “We’re pretty meat and potatoes around here,” Palmer says, noting that the bar doesn’t have any happy hour special. Nor, he adds, do they have much in the way of a specialty mixer. True to the football den feel, most folks drink bottled domestics from the old-school wood-and-glass cooler. The Mo Club was, however, one of the first local bars to offer microbrews on tap back in the 1990s. If it’s a real cold one you’re looking for, they also have milkshakes for $4 and malts for $4.25.

What you’re eating: The fabled Mo Club burger is a Missoula staple, repeatedly winning a Best of Missoula distinction from Independent readers. This place cooks the onion right into the patty for extra flavor. And that special horseradish cheese? Don’t even get us started…

Claim to fame: Never mind the state big wigs like Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. Jon Tester that occasionally stop in here. Back in summer 2008—when his wife Hillary was battling Pres. Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries—Bill Clinton made a casual and unannounced appearance at the Mo Club. He tried the burger, but went with a beverage choice that must have puzzled regulars: a diet Pepsi.

Where to find it: 139 W. Main St., about half a block off Higgins.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail editor@missoulanews.com.

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