Happiest Hour 

Stockman's Bar

Why you're here: Um, because it's Stock's? The place is a Missoula legend, a workingman's bar by day and a raucous college joint by night. Best of Missoula voters have declared Stock's the "Best bar to hook up" for what seems like ages. The slogan says it all: "Stockman's Bar—Liquor up front, poker in the rear."

What you're drinking: You drink shots of BV here, the regular at the end of the bar says. BV, for the novice drinker, is Black Velvet whiskey, and Stock's gives you a dash of Sprite as a chaser. Vodka and Powerade would be a distant, distant second when you're talking about the definitive "Stock's drink."

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

Atmosphere: Stock's looks like the usual "traditional Montana bar," with the token steer skull, the beat-up dance floor, and the emphasis on domestic taps. The bartenders are laidback, too, chatting and drinking alongside customers on a slow weekday evening. Conversation tends to lean toward sports, especially when the last throes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are flashing across the enormous flat screen near the bar. Don't be fooled by a calm night, though. When the students are in town, weekends get wild here. Especially Pong Wednesdays, when Budweiser is a screaming $7 all-you-can-drink deal.

Who you're drinking with: The bartender, of course, along with any regulars who are waiting around for a poker game to start. On a recent evening, though, we're joined by a slamming blonde from out of state. She's here on business, she says, as an environmental consultant. And she isn't the only visitor to stop by on this bartender's clock. "Any traveler I know has been told to come to Stockman's," he says. "It's famous, it's history."

Where to find it: Head west on Front from Higgins about half a block and turn inside at the steer's head. 125 W. Front St.

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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