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Happiest Hour

The Keep

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Claim to Fame: The view, no doubt about it. The Keep looks like a little castle on the hill with its stone trim and warm lantern fixtures. And just like a castle should, it overlooks the Missoula Valley from its throne in the South Hills. If you're into watching golfers—or playing golf—The Highlands Golf Course surrounds the restaurant. But the real thrill is sipping cocktails with friends on the deck and gazing at the twinkling lights of the valley below.

Atmosphere: Serious daters might find the dining room more suited to their romantic wiles, but the lounge has its advantages. It's closest to the bar, for one, and it offers a more casual alternative for those who just want to focus on drinks while nibbling on a few appetizers under The Keep's vaulted ceilings. Plus, favorite musicians like Tom Catmull, Andrea Harsell and Russ Nassett serenade the deck dwellers on weekend nights.

Who's pouring: Neil Zauher has been The Keep's bar manager for four years. He made his way up from golf course worker to king of the canteen. With a mild manner and a mean pour, he's a favorite among regulars.

What you're having: Besides beer and wine, summer drinks abound on The Keep's menu. The John Daly (an Arnold Palmer with vodka) is one lemony fresh cocktail Zauher likes to whip up. Another signature drink is the juice-a-licious Montana Rum Runner. $4 each.

How to make the Montana Rum Runner:

One shot of Bacardi light rum

One part each orange juice and mango juice

Splash of cherry juice

Pinch of nutmeg

How to find it: 102 Ben Hogan Drive. From 39th Street, take High Park up through the South Hills to Whitaker Drive and then take a left onto Ben Hogan when you see the castle.

—Erika Fredrickson

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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