Happiest Hour

Wintry mixology at the Silver Dollar 

What you're drinking: What, you want a menu? If it's Monday night, there's a good chance that 18-year veteran tender Brian Patterson is behind the bar at the Silver Dollar, one of Missoula's few remaining tethers (est. 1935) to its (mostly) unreconstructed drinking past. Like, unless it comes out of a soda gun, they don't even have mixers at the Silver Dollar. Too complicated. Why bother?

But on Mondays, usually, Patterson brings in his own kit—from home—and goes wild with, well, maybe a Manhattan with anejo tequila instead of bourbon?

Does that sound good? That might be good!

Hell if I know. I came in at 9:15 on a slushy Monday night when Patterson had just worked all day at his other job, which is property management. Pipes had been frozen. It had been busy. He hadn't had time on his way to work to swing by home and pick up his kit, with which he might have made me a martini. Or a whiskey sour. Or anything, really, other than a beer and a shot. Besides, it turns out the Buddha's Fingers that Patterson had acquired two days earlier in hopes of pickling it, zesting it and all manner of mixologist whatnot had already gone to mold, so this wasn't the night for specialty cocktails in any case.

That's cool. We weren't in search of anything in particular.

So we asked for the Blackfoot IPA—because it was on tap and what halfwit wouldn't?—and chased it with the Wild Turkey 101, which is about as top-shelf as it gets at the Silver Dollar. We did not regret our choices.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MATTHEW FRANK
  • photo by Matthew Frank

What it tastes like: Who knows! Next week is a new week, and Patterson says he's ready to go. But beware: His sense of seasonality might be more perverse than yours. This wintry weather puts him in mind of tropical beach drinks, concoctions designed to transport you to "happier places." You might think about whether that's really where you want your cocktail to take you.

Who's making it: Probably Brian Patterson, who landed in Missoula two decades ago under circumstances as improbable as they come. It's a good story. If it's not too busy, he might tell you about it.

When you're drinking it: Mondays; no guarantees.

Where to find it: The Silver Dollar: a suitably long room, three pool tables, unpretentiously exposed brick and a bank of gambling machines. With a bar. And no mixers.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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The original print version of this article was headlined "Happiest Hour"

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