Happiest Hour 

Red Bird Wine Bar

Atmosphere: A description of the Red Bird depends largely on who you're talking to. For the 20-something set, you might classify it as "hipster-chic." Among couples, it might go by the more generic moniker "romantic." No matter how you pour it the place has class to spare, from the elaborate hanging-glass light fixtures to the artistic blend of steel and old lumber in the corner. "Since we're in Montana, some people feel skittish when they walk in," says bartender Jadyn Velazquez. "But we've always wanted the wine bar to be casual."

Who you're drinking with: Velazquez isn't exaggerating when she says the wine bar's a casual joint. Most of the folks on a recent weeknight sport jeans and sneakers. But the Red Bird instantly stands out as a perfect date spot, right down to the tall two-seater tables and live music on Mondays. And with the lack of TVs, guys won't be tempted to drift into televised sportslandia during conversation.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

What you're drinking: Um, wine? The Red Bird boasts a lengthy list of reds and whites from all over the globe. And while the bar does have a variety of beers on tap, Velazquez says red wine is definitely the popular choice. Fellow bartender Quintin Brown agrees. "There's white wine, then there's real wine," he says, quoting a former customer from his days at a wine bar in Albuquerque.

What you're eating: The wine bar offers a modestly priced menu that differs from its restaurant fare. Choose from a wide array of salads, artisan sandwiches or entrees, or get fancy and pair your wine selection with something off the Red Bird's seasonal "Taste of" menu. The current selection is "Taste of Cuba," including a coconut-rum flan.

Where to find it: On the ground floor of the old Florence Hotel at 111 North Higgins, just off the lobby.

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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