By RYAN NEWHOUSE
I had a birthday a couple weeks ago, and though it would have been nice to stroll around the streets of Missoula to all my favorite hangouts and dives, I was, instead, soaking up the sun and surf on Kauai.
I’m not complaining, mind you, as I had a special bottle of Olde Rabbit’s Foot Imperial Stout from Olde Hickory Brewing to keep me company. But it got me thinking about where I would have gone to celebrate in ol’ Zootown if I were there, so I’ve put together a list of the best bars in Missoula for celebrating a birthday, based on extensive research, phone calls, and personal past experience.
Now I’m a firm believer that you should never have to pay for a drink on your birthday. That’s what friends are for (as well as being your designated driver for the evening), but for a proper birthday pub crawl, it’s nice to know of a few spots in town eager to help you celebrate in style with a drink and a smile.
The process of finding all these bars showed me that while some are more open about their birthday libation specials, there were others that gave me a “it depends on who’s working that night” or a flat out “sorry, we don’t do that.” Bars are businesses, so I respect all those answers, but I’d like to highlight the Missoula bars that whole-heartedly said, “Sure, we’d love to buy you a drink on your birthday!”
So here they are, in alphabetical order:
- Badlander (including Golden Rose and Palace Lounge, but not the casinos): Free drink on your birthday.
- Flathead Brewing Company – Missoula: A free beer on your birthday.
- Hooters: Sign up in advance and receive a gift certificate for your birthday – Usually $20, which you can use for food and drinks!
- Iron Horse Brew Pub: Free drink under $5 on your birthday.
- The Old Post: Free shot of well liquor on your birthday.
- James Bar: *Usually* a free drink on your 21st birthday.
- Silver Dollar Bar: Free drink on your birthday.
- Stockman’s Bar: Free shot on your birthday.
- Tamarack Brewery – Missoula: A free “Birthday Pint” of beer.
- Union Club: A free shot on your birthday.
It’s important to keep a couple things in mind to make your birthday celebration safe and memorable: You don’t need to visit ALL the bars listed above on your birthday – that’s a lot to drink! Always have a designated driver or planned ride home. And keep in mind that any free drink is a gift, so treat it as such. Any of these bars may decline to offer you a free drink on your birthday, so respect their decision and tip your server or bartender, especially if your drink was free. And if your favorite bar wasn’t listed here, it won’t hurt to ask your server or bartender while you’re there, as they might be one of those “it depends” bars.
Share with us your most memorable birthday celebration in Missoula or give a shout out to bars that have given you a free birthday drink or shot!
Thirsty for more? Check out these blogs by Missoula’s Drink It expert, Ryan Newhouse: Be a Winner-Brew at Home, Have Beer Will Travel, Flathead Lake Brewing Company – Beer Pairing, Tamarack Brewing Company, Montana Whiskey and Vodka. And check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.
Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is a full-time writer, husband and parent (in no particular order) and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for Wild Game.