Happiest Hour 

The Dark Horse

Rock reincarnation: When Tom Reed, owner of Bucks Club, passed away in 2009, the bar closed its doors. On New Year's Eve, the space reopened as The Dark Horse, proclaiming itself as "Missoula's Rock Bar" and exclusively bringing in hard rock and heavy metal bands.

Atmosphere: While western-themed signs are still stenciled above the bathrooms from Bucks Club days, the rest of the bar has had a rock 'n' roll facelift. Posters of bands like Kiss and ZZ Top cover most surfaces not taken up by Jagermeister schwag, and though the jukebox offers just about everything, Korn gets a lot more play than Ke$ha. The venue has become a home base for local bands like Universal Choke Sign and Blessiddoom, as well as a spot for out-of-town groups to prove their salt before a crowd of headbangers on Fridays and Saturdays, when the leather jackets and Pantera T-shirts really come out of the woodwork.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

What you're drinking: There are a few local microbrews on tap, but the beers of choice are predominantly domestics. For liquor lovers, Jagermeister reigns supreme, at $3.50 for a shot and $5 for a Jagerbomb.

Who you're drinking with: Bartender Penny Farmer, who also works in the adjacent country western joint The Sunrise Saloon, says the bar attracts a pretty eclectic selection of patrons, though "the country folks tend to stay on the other side." Only a hallway separates them. Despite the disparate demographics, no real problems have occurred. "On the weekends we do keep the door [between the bars] locked," Farmer says.

Where to find it: 1805 Regent Street, adjacent to the Sunrise Saloon and next to the Elbow Room Bar.

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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