Maybe it's the egg nog we started on first thing this morning that got us tingling with the holiday spirit. Regardless, we're on a roll and plan on marking the season in our own unique way. That's why we dedicate this Friday's Happiest Hour, our weekly ode to local watering holes, to Fred's Lounge & Casino.
Who you’re drinking with: On a recent Friday afternoon, a small man with a long white beard wearing a frayed denim vest adorned with a Confederate flag. He attempts to nuzzle his face into a topless blonde woman dancing on stage to Bryan Adam’s “Heaven.” Across the lounge, a man wearing a baseball cap plays keno as Joey Parhan sits under red lights drinking a Jack and Coke at the bar. Fred’s is Parhan’s favorite local establishment, despite the fact that, he says, some might perceive it as sleazy.
“It’s not what you think it is,” Parhan says. “I’ve had more fun here than anyplace.”
Atmosphere: Fred’s is currently decked out to celebrate the holiday season. A decorated Christmas tree illuminates poker machines. Silver reindeer dot the bar. Red bows and tinsel hang everywhere. But the Christmas spirit is likely not what’s bringing patrons in. Dancers undress on stage daily from 2 p.m. until close, with new ladies joining the rotation as the evening progresses. The scene varies significantly depending on the time of day. When it's light outside, the lounge, at the intersection of Interstate 90 and Highway 93, caters largely to travelers, including long-haul truckers. After sunset, a cross section of people from across the valley file in to listen to a live DJ and check out the ladies gyrating on stage in a mirrored and dimly lit room.
What you’re drinking: Passers through order Pepsi, coffee and even tea. Later, it’s draft beer including local favorites like Moose Drool and Cold Smoke, or harder stuff from Fred’s full bar.
Happy Hour specials: There are oodles. And deals at Fred’s aren’t solely limited to drinks. Lap dances typically run $20, but they’re two for one Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m., and all day Sunday. As for beverage bargains, here are a few highlights: Monday afternoons, draft beer runs $1 from 2 until 7 p.m.; Thursday, Fred’s sells PBR with a shot of whiskey for $4; on Saturday, shots of schnapps go for $1.
How to find it: Drive west from Missoula on I-90. Take exit 96, drive one block south to the Crossroads Travel Center.