Living on the Cheap

How to drink without sinking your pocketbook in North Idaho

By Susan Drinkard
Reader Columnist

Whether or not “happy hours” at area bars bring actual happiness is a question I’ll leave to the reader. But, if you are a happy hour imbiber, feel fortunate. Not every state allows reduced priced drinks during a given period, according to the Traffic Resource Center for Judges; in fact, 12 states don’t allow happy hours at all and even more have placed restrictions on them, citing reasons related to driving impairment, (though stats show that the bans have made no calculable difference in the number of car crashes with alcohol as a factor).

Idaho is okay with happy hours.

You probably know where to go in Sandpoint for drink specials, but how about tickling that adventurous part of yourself with a night or two at some of the less genteel bars in our region? You know there’s a part of you that has always wanted to take a look-see inside the Tervan.

Here are some tips for bar ventures out of town (and just because my last name is Drinkard, don’t think I am an expert on these drinking matters).

Take the 23-mile fall color drive to view the “folk art to fine art” at the Artisan Gallery in downtown Priest River.(Check business hours first due to business hour changes in the fall. 208-304-4656). Walk a block in this thickly surreal area to Popeye’s for an inexpensive drink in a clean and comfortable environment.

Popeye's bar in Priest River. Photo by Susan Drinkard.

Popeye’s bar in Priest River. Photo by Susan Drinkard.

You cannot beat the prices at Popeye’s Lounge on Thursday nights when from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. there is an all-you-can-eat taco bar for $5 and Bud drafts are $1. Kids are welcome to eat during these four hours in the now smoke-free sports bar. Bud, PBR, and Coors Light are always $2.50 a pint and other tap beers—Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada, Goose Island IPA, Shock Top, and Sam Adams Summer Ale—are always $3.

On Monday nights during football season, $5 will buy you a chili dog and a beer from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., said Brook Ramsey, bartender. Another barkeep at Popeye’s said a patron from Montana told her that she and her three friends drank all evening and the bill was $34, far less than their usual tab.

Julie Pieper and Rob Troxler own a fixture in Priest River, King’s Bar and Grill on the highway. They don’t have happy hour specials on drinks, but their rib-eye $14.95 steak dinners are popular. If you are brave you might try some of the more unusual $5 appetizers—deep-fried pickle spears, deep-fried spicy green beans or chicken gizzards.

Aptly named, Northwood’s Tavern is 20 miles north of Sandpoint in Naples on Deep Creek Loop. Owner Laurie Doering says the building is a hole-in-the-wall but the backyard is pretty and a very popular meeting place for friends and neighbors in the good-weather months.

Kings Bar & Grill in Priest River. Photo by Susan Drinkard.

Kings Bar & Grill in Priest River. Photo by Susan Drinkard.

Northwood’s Tavern has two beers on tap—Goose Island IPA and Pabst Blue Ribbon, the former is a deal at $3 and the latter is $2.50 a pint. No happy hours here; the beer is always inexpensive. Don’t bother to go unless you try one of the unusual pizzas Laurie makes—German sauerkraut pizza served with sweet/hot mustard; barbecued chicken pizza; or spinach and artichoke with jalapeno-infused bacon. “We sell a ton of them ‘to go,’” she said.

Though plans for a big move are in the works, The Hideaway in the Bonner Mall notably hosts three happy hours—noon to 1 p.m., 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Beer on tap is dirt cheap at $2.25 a pint—if your memory does not serve you well, a pint is 16 ounces, or two cups—and well drinks are $3 during these hours, according to Miss Lee, Hideaway manager, and Mary B., bartender.

Smoking is permissible at The Hideaway and the bar has six “smoke-eater” devices in the ceiling. A cute patio out back provides privacy and comfort. There are a pool table, darts, and free popcorn, Miss Lee said.

With your designated driver in tow, call it a sociological experience and go somewhere new, where the drinks are cheap and where self-conscious cool décor doesn’t exist.

The patio at the Hideaway Lounge in Ponderay. Photo by Susan Drinkard.

The patio at the Hideaway Lounge in Ponderay. Photo by Susan Drinkard.

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