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Happiest Hour

The Al's and Vic's patio



Where you're drinking: It's summertime (sorta) and the living is easy. During the glorious bright, warm days of late spring, all we want to do is find a place to relax outside, sip a cold one and feel the breeze on our skin. We can think of many great places to drink outside, but Al's and Vic's has a special charm. This isn't the most scenic of patios, located as it is in an alley, with the view dominated by power lines and a telephone pole. Once we spotted a severed chicken foot sitting on one of the tables, and watched as a group of people, determined to enjoy the sunshine, sat there anyway.

  • photo by Cathrine L. Walters

So, about that charm: There are a few theories as to what makes the Al's and Vic's patio special. For one, on a slow weekday afternoon, bartender James Cleveland puts special care into mixing drinks, from muddling lemons to blending a gin and tonic and topping it with bitters. For another, despite the power lines and telephone pole, we can still gaze at plenty of beautiful blue sky while sipping our cocktail or beer. Cleveland has his own theory. "If you like to watch homeless people pee in dumpsters," he says, "it's a slice of the seedy side of Missoula." We're not so sure about that one. An afternoon kicking back outdoors seems like a slice of something nice, anyway.

What you're drinking: We're partial to the specials, like Sunday's $1.75 Olympia tallboys and $3.25 double wells on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Where to find it: Al's and Vic's is located at 119 W. Alder St., next to James Bar. You'll find the patio in the back.

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

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