Thursday, May 28, 2015

Montana—Peaks, Prairies . . . Bourbon?





Random lake

Side of some road

Thompson Falls, MT

As far as I’m concerned, these United States have adopted many a middle child. And by that I mean our miserable Union includes a whole variety of states I don’t ever care to think about. Montana just so happens to be one of those neglected, “middle child” states.

It’s true, I was born and raised in paradise. 

Back there I drank booze because booze is good; never to cope with a frigid winter. College football was king, scantily dressed women abound all year round, and reeling in a red fish—accompanied by nothing but a half empty flask of gin—was always only an hour away.

There’s a reason why so many people move to my home state just to die . . . because it’s the shit. And because it’s as close as you can get to that healthful shore for which I’m bound without crossing over for good. Which is why, for most of my life, I would have classified most states as middle child states. 

I can only think of one reason why you’d want to move to Montana to die: to be forgotten . . . along with the rest of this middle child state. 

Ipso Facto, if you’re an elderly defector to Montana, you’re likely either a convict; a no good, long haired, dirty, deserting hippie; a Ron Paul supporting, doomsday saying, tax ditching libertarian; or a combination of all three.  Most likely the latter. But to be honest that kind of makes this middle child state the slightest bit cool. 

Montana doesn’t ever bitch about being forgotten. 

In fact, more often than not they’re bitching about all us pesky tourists, or all those bourgeois, metropolitan trendies residing in Montana’s universally reviled Boze Angeles—a hostile nickname for Bozeman, which I picked up from a cute little number who was, of course, a defector from New York.

And that figures. 

Florida’s greatest flaws are its intolerable heat and its lack of diverse scenery. Fortunately, while the better sex devise of ways to deal with high temperatures above 95, they unknowingly—or knowingly—distract us men from the heat while also suppressing our desire for any other kind of scenery they aren’t already providing. 

Whoever described Florida as flat, hot, and dumb was only two thirds down the path to the actual truth. After all, the mountains of Montana are all well and good, but Florida’s mountains march in multiples of two and are attached to women who are, more often than not, beautiful (or, yes, hot and dumb—if you insist). 

Montana soaks up its peaks and prairies, chokes down its bison, and neglects to shave. But as far as I could tell they’ve yet to give birth to an attractive woman. And therein lies Montana’s greatest flaw. 

That or its lack of memorable cuisine. Trust me, I looked hard for a bison steak, but it turns out most of Montana’s restaurants don’t consider it a requirement.

I was disgusted more than once by what the dive bars had to offer. Most notably while in Victor at the end of a town strip begging for a western style shoot-out. 

The Flying Pig Bar and Grill should be avoided at all costs, and honestly so should Victor.

As I watched the bartender throw a frozen beef patty on the grill I had to resist the urge to ask: “Am I dining in a bar? Or at the concession stand of a high school football game?” 

I’d have liked to say: “I see cattle everywhere! Why are you serving me beef shipped up from China or wherever the hell?” 

Unfortunately, my mother raised me better. In any case, my mother would agree that the practice of slapping a frozen patty on the grill is deviant and unseemly at the very least; downright savage if we're being especially forthright. 

Alas, I left Montana without a single tip on where to find good eats. At least a single tip I couldn’t find on Google. 

Still, two restaurants are of note—mostly because they’re each a safe choice, and also because I had to write about something.

Überbrew in downtown Billings is no rare find. After all they’re located downtown.

In any case, Überbrew does make the hell out of their Überstition Sausage Dog. Pair it with their Cheddar Ale Soup and their Stand Down Brown Ale for a decent meal. 

Be sure to forgo their Irish Dry Stout, which tastes more like an attempt at dark beer by Anheuser-Busch. Seriously—don’t go near it.

Rating: I was about to buy the shirt until a hipster stopped by and told me the shirts were pretty cool when he bought one, but now everyone’s buying them.

Finally—The Copper Whiskey Bar & Grill of downtown Bozeman, or Boze Angeles as I later found out. 

For the most part, you’re being safe if you visit the most expensive restaurant on the block. That is, if you’re willing to dish out the cash. 

Fortunately, these days nearly every expensive restaurant offers an affordable burger to make sure us traveling suits on per diem will still swing by to make the restaurant look classier than it actually is.

The Copper Whiskey Bar & Grill sports a speakeasy theme, a ton of beer on tap, and an incredible whiskey menu—which I’ll admit I was far less enthusiastic about once I found double shots of their best whiskey just two bars down for half the price.

The Copper Burger had bacon ground in the beef (Victorthat's how civilized people treat their beef!), sharp white cheddar, and Dijon Mustard which was surprisingly not overbearing. 

Once again, a decent meal, but nothing groundbreaking. 

What was groundbreaking was Whistling Andy’s Montana Bourbon

I’ve never been a fan of what Kentucky has to offer. Call it un-American, but I’ve always preferred the Queen’s stamp to that of Colonel Sanders’.

However there was something about that Montana bourbon. Unfortunately I drank a little too much of it to remember what exactly that something was.

I can say for sure though that Whistling Andy is positively Christ-like. By that I mean the man has redeemed what was once in my view a wretched excuse for whiskey.

Yeah . . . that's right Kentucky. I'm saying Montana does it better!

Alcohol-induced amnesia took hold once again in the case of the Mountain Man by The Front Brewing Company. All I can tell you is that when I checked my Untappd App the next day, I saw that I gave it 4 ½ stars and a single note: “Buy this wherever it’s available!”

Rating: After four Mountain Man's and four Whistling Andy’s I can’t remember if I bought the shirt or not.


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