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Happiest Hour

Al's and Vic's


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Atmosphere: Al's and Vic's has a classic pool hall ambience that gives you the feeling you're walking into a scene from The Outsiders, expecting to see a greaser hustling the billiard tables in the back. The beauty of the bar is its simplicity, from the black-and-white pictures that cover the walls to the functioning payphone on the wall by the door.

Claim to fame: According to the bar's Myspace page, it's the oldest Missoula establishment in its original location. Al and Vic Pepe built the bar in 1936, and even though the old watering hole has gone through a series of facelifts over the years, it's a safe bet that much of the original character has been preserved.

Happy hour: The bar keeps a steady weekday clientele thanks in part to its drink specials. On Sundays, they advertise $1.50 Olympia with lime, and on Wednesdays the special is $1.75 Bud Light. The real favorite, however, is the $3 double well drinks on Monday and Tuesday that have helped win them the Independent readers' pick for "Best Bar for a Stiff Pour" three years in a row.

What you're drinking: "This is a whiskey bar," said Winter Sanor, who has worked here for 10 years. If you don't want to drink Jameson with the old guys at the end of the bar, grab a "bucket of beer"– four PBR cans served in a tin pail full of ice for $7, and find a table on the concrete patio out back.

Who you're drinking with: Anyone from a crew of Roller Derby girls to well-dressed socialites fresh from dinner at the adjacent James Bar.

Where to find it: 119 West Alder St., at the far end of the downtown strip.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail


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