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Bars where Pete has had a Drink (4,028 bars; 1,673 bars in Seattle) - Click titles below for Lists:


Bars where Pete has had a drink

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

#3591 - Sip 'n Dip Lounge, Great Falls, MT - 8/19/2018

Fifty years ago Great Falls was the largest city in Montana and included the swanky O'Haire Motor Inn, which included a tiki bar with windows into the swimming pool, inspired by the Chicago Playboy club, and a young Pat Spoonheim playing piano in the bar. Today, Great Falls has slipped to the 3rd largest city in the state, the local economy has struggled for many years, and the O'Haire is a fairly pedestrian motel. And yet the old Sip and Dip Lounge inside, still featuring keyboards by Piano Pat -- now well into her 80s and semi-legendary -- is now known nation-wide and was once cited by GQ Magazine as one of the ten best bars in the world and the "#1 bar...worth flying for."

What has made the Sip and Dip probably the city's most famous attraction -- over the local symphony that has hosted guests like Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, the local minor league baseball teams that have included players like Pedro Martínez and Raúl Mondesí, and the shortest river in the world -- are the mermaids that have regularly graced the pool since 1995. A story I read in the bar itself said it started when a housekeeper put a sheet around her legs in 1994, but the more prominent histories (e.g. Wikipedia) only mention that it was started by general manager Sandra Johnson-Thares on New Years Eve 1995 as her idea to inject a "fun factor."

The 75-room motel and tiki bar were constructed by Edgar O'Haire in 1962 and the lounge has maintained most of the same tiki theme and decor ever since. Piano Pat was sadly not available during our visit in the Fall of 2018, but we did make sure to visit during mermaid hours (the pool is open to guests outside of the mermaid hours, and we were informed that not all of them wear a swimsuit despite (or perhaps because of?) the bar room view.

The menu features pretty standard contemporary pub food, there is a good beer selection, and the cocktails tend to be more toward the beach party end than craft cocktails. But the history, Piano Pat, and just the existence of one of the tiny handful of mermaid bars in the middle of Montana should make this a bucket list sort of stop for just about anyone.








                                                                                       

































Mermaid hours (if you go, check online for current times):
Monday: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Tuesday - Thursday: 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Friday - Saturday: 6:00pm to 12:00pm
Mermaid Brunch: 10:00am - 2:00pm, 1st and 3rd Sunday


17 7th St S, Great Falls, MT 59401 - (406) 454-2141
Est. 1962 - Building constructed: 1962
Web site: ohairemotorinn.com - facebook
Articles ranked: critiki - atlas obscura video - wikipedia - national trust for historic preservation - ixploredelishorbitz - yelp - tripadvisor - headhuntersflyshop 

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