Happiest Hour 

Town and Country Lounge

Who you're drinking with: On a recent afternoon, George Franks. It's his 72nd birthday and he's perched at the end of the bar having a few vodka cranberries, as he has for decades. "I've only been coming here for 30 years," Franks says.

Who you're drinking with, besides George: The place gets packed in the afternoon and early evening as working people pile in. It's primarily a blue-collar crowd—men in NASCAR jackets with white hair who smoke cigarettes in the parking lot, or locals from the neighborhood, including the trailer park across the street. The place gets even busier at the beginning of the month, says bartender Katie McDowell. "Generally, the first of the month is pretty steady, because people are getting their paychecks."

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JESSICA MAYRER

Ambiance: Patsy Cline plays on the jukebox, there's a pool table, and some keno and poker machines. Televisions are everywhere broadcasting sports. The bar also offers a shrine to Budweiser, from the red and white racecar hanging above the bar to posters and neon signs on the walls.

What you're drinking: "We do sell a lot of beer here," says McDowell, a T&C vet for 17 years. "But we sell a lot of frou-frou drinks, too—for a working man's bar."

Claim to fame: A whole lot of good people, according to Franks. "Everybody looks out for everybody else."

How to find it: 1616 S. Third Street W., less than one block off Russell Street and a stone's throw from the Good Food Store.

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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