Friday, December 2, 2011

Happiest Hour: Gaming Garage Bar, Casino & Liquor Store

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 3:08 PM

We've got a strange hankering for red vines and a Caesar cocktail. That's why we're spending this week's happiest hour at The Gaming Garage.

Who you’re drinking with: A handful of middle-aged women and one man sit quietly before Treasure Chest, Casino King and Keno machines on a recent sunny afternoon. A woman in a leopard-print coat is humming along with “Imagine” on the radio. As the afternoon wears into evening, the casino’s clientele becomes younger and remains blue-collar.

Ambiance: Bartender Tanya Smith calls it “garage appeal.” There’s a red Chevy convertible and a powder-blue Ford with New Jersey plates painted on the wall behind the bar. Life-sized cardboard cutouts of James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and Elvis give the place the feel of a drive-in diner without the greasy smell. A heated, attached smoking room provides a cozy spot to take a puff.

What you’re doing: Plugging dollar bills into blinking gaming machines and watching Griz games. If your luck runs out, take a break and wash your rig at the car wash next door.

What you’re drinking: The Gaming Garage makes a mean 16-ounce Caesar cocktail for $3.50. With a $5 gaming-machine investment, well drinks, house wine and domestic draft beer are complementary for a while.

What you’re eating: Free snacks served from a red Craftsman Tool Center. Soak up the Caesar’s with peanuts, goldfish and crackers served in small plastic cups along with Milky Way and Snickers candy bars and Red Vine licorice.

How to find it: 2120 W. Broadway, west of Russell.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email

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