Why you're here: Because, as you arrive at your gate at the Missoula International Airport, on your way to Colorado for Labor Day weekend, you look over and see the best addition to the airport since its giant stuffed grizzly bear: A tiny, five-stool bar that sells local beer.
What's the big deal? This is a new bar and restaurant, Jedediah's at the Airport set up beyond the checkpoint. Gate-side bars are standard at pretty much any other airport, but to discover the first one at Missoula's four-gate puddle-jumper landing pad pretty much makes your day. So, with your flight delayed an hour, you belly up and order a Double Haul IPA. Shortly after, another traveler walks up and with wide eyes asks, "When did this happen?" Six months ago, says the bartender. "I wish I would have known that four hours ago!" He takes a seat.
What to order: There's a cooler with rows of local beer (Double Haul, Cold Smoke, Moose Drool, Dump Truck, Scape Goat and so on), a few mini wine bottles, and, on a shelf, several mini liquor bottles. And here's the best part: If the beverages are unopened, the bartender says, you can bring them on the plane, at least on United and Delta flights (she's unsure about the other airlines' rules). So you order a Cold Smoke ($5, same as the rest) for the air, making the quick flight to Denver a satisfying beginning to your holiday weekend.
Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email email@example.com.