Happiest Hour 

The Bierstube

Why you're here: Whitefish got dumped on last weekend. Again. And up at Big Mountain, that means one thing: party at the 'Stube. When the snow starts falling, you can be sure the place will be packed with thirsty powder hounds by 4 p.m. There's hardly room to breath on the patio when the warm spring days and skimpy ski outfits descend. A combination of live music, good humor and great pizza make the 'Stube the de facto stopping point on the long trek back to town.

Who you're drinking with: On a recent Saturday, hosers. Whitefish's proximity to the Canadian border makes it a popular getaway for Albertans. Tonight, they're down here for the World Skijoring Championships, a three-day kickoff event for the Whitefish Winter Carnival. Skijoring involves a skier being towed by a horse at top speed while hitting jumps and weaving through gates, which definitely sounds like something Canadians would dig.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

What you're drinking: If you're subscribing to the "when in Rome, eh" model, you're drinking a vodka Paralyzer. Bartender Brigid Fraa six-year vet of the 'Stubehas no idea why Canadians like this drink. But they're drinking it. A lot. "It's basically like a White Russian with Pepsi," Fra says. I gag at the comparison. "It tastes kind of like a root beer float," Fra adds. I order a pint of Great Northern Brewing's IPA.

Why you're coming back: Powder. And the fact that, as fake as their money may look, the Canadians are a damn fun lot. One falls for the 'Stube's "souvenir ring" trick: She asks for the complementary ringadvertised throughout the barand the bartender rings a heavy brass bell. Everyone laughs. It's a stale gag, but spirits are high, even if they do taste like a root beer float.

How to find it: Follow the après-ski crowd to 3889 Big Mountain Road in Whitefish Mountain Resort's upper village.

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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