Happiest Hour 

The Iron Horse Brew Pub

What you're drinking: In honor of Missoula's impending spring fever, the Tulip seemed like a solid choice this week. Billed as "an Iron Horse favorite," this refreshing little number blends Absolut Vodka with Bols Black Raspberry Schnapps and a decent helping of lemonade. The Tulip balances out some of the Iron Horse's hotter menu items without losing its springtime flavor. It hits the spot when the sun starts its annual teasing routine.

Atmosphere: While the hurricane mentioned in the Tulip's menu slug may reference the glass your drink comes in, it could just as easily apply to the scene around you. We found the joint packed with throngs of noontime March Madness spectators last Friday afternoon. But don't let the lunch crowd fool you; the families and local business types quickly give way to a glut of college-age drinkers as the evening wears on. Sure the Iron Horse starts to smell a bit like a magazine cologne ad around 11 p.m., but stake your claim early at the 501 Lounge upstairs and you can avoid the sea of elbows below.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

Claim to fame: A tight-lipped bartender declined to chat so we'll have to fill in the blanks ourselves. The most obvious point of interest is that the Iron Horse used to reside in the old railroad depot at the end of Higgins Avenue in the early 1990s. The place was attached to Bayern Brewing back then. Also, Iron Horse fries have made our Best of Missoula list several years running.

Happy hour: Monday Madness features a bucket of five beers for $7. Fat Tuesdays bring half-price well drinks 9–11 p.m., as well as $5 pitchers of domestic beer. Wicked Wednesday is a true drinker's paradise, though, with $4 deals on a Jager shot with a bottle of Pabst and "strawberry sex drinks." Sounds like a definite hump day happy-ending.

Where to find it: At 501 N. Higgins Ave.

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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