Happiest Hour: James Bar 

To get you — and us — ready for the weekend, we'll post our new Happiest Hour column every Friday, a little before quitting time.

This week: James Bar

Claim to Fame: A decidedly hip, urban feel with several enlarged, vintage chic, black-and-white photos featuring, among others, Janis Joplin, Keith Richards and a very young Willie Nelson. The outside front of the bar sports a long quote from Hunter S. Thompson, and the back of the building includes this Jimmy Buffett quote: “We are the people our parents warned us about.” The décor also includes dark wood beams with black trim, chandeliers with candle-like lights, a gas fireplace and cozy booths. Cozy, but definitely not a dive bar.


What you’re drinking: Bartender Andrew Benson says the Lemonade James ($7) has summer flair, but patrons drink it all year round:

How to make it:
- One shot Effen Black Cherry Vodka
- Equal parts cranberry juice and lemonade
- A dash of Rose’s Lime Juice
- Sugar rim

What you’re eating: A full menu includes everything from sliders to fish and chips. But the hot item is something simple: tater tots with a side of ranch and ketchup.

Who you’re drinking with: Afternoons see younger regulars drinking, chatting at the bar or studying. When the lights dim in the evening, it’s couples night out. Large groups also congregate around the stump tables or in the sizeable plush booths. The crowd is usually swanked up a bit by Missoula standards. With easy access to neighbor Al’s & Vic’s—a single door separates the two establishments—you also notice a few more weathered patrons.

Happy hour: Wine happy hour—$5 glasses—runs 2 to 5 p.m. Reverse happy hour from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. features Pabst tallboys for $2.50 each.

How to find it: 127 W. Alder St. at the end of N. Higgins Avenue.

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

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