Happiest Hour: Long Branch Saloon

Posted by Matthew Frank on Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Watching the clock and getting a little antsy this Friday afternoon? Maybe this, our latest installment of the Happiest Hour column, will satiate you until it's time to punch out.

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  • Alex Sakariassen

This week: Long Branch Saloon

Claim to fame: Our bartender, 23-year-old Deven Monta, says Long Branch Saloon’s claim to fame is its live poker on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. “It’s the busiest poker room around,” she says. A lubed-up barfly says it’s, “If you want a helping hand, go to Long Branch and you’ll get one. We’ll all be out in the parking lot helping to jack up your pickup.” But neither seems satisfied with their answer. There’s more to the bar, they say. Maybe it’s simply that it’s old—a true saloon with a wooden bar warped with age.

What you’re drinking: Beer and whiskey. Occasionally the whiskey’s mixed with Coke.

What you’ll overhear: We heard a stocky woman say, “I got five deer out there in eastern Montana…I cut them sonsabitches up with my own bare hands.”

Who you’re drinking with: On a recent Wednesday night, Keith was on our right. Friendly, tattooed and with a missing front tooth, he says Long Branch is the kind of place where you can leave money on the bar and, “Guess what? It stays!” Then he proved it. On our left was an old-timer the bartender calls “Papa,” drinking a bottle of Bud. Papa says this old building used to be a café back in the ’60s.

Atmosphere: The bumperstickers and signs behind the bar say it all. One reads: “Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living?” Another: “Shirts and shoes required. Bras and panties optional.” Regulars play pool and shuffleboard and the speakers play country music. A big screen TV shows college basketball, but no one watches.

How to find it: 2412 US Highway 93 in Victor, about 40 minutes south of Missoula. You can’t—and shouldn’t—miss it.

Happiest Hour is a new column that celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail editor@missoulanews.com.

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