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As a booming mining town in the early 1900s, Butte, Montana once housed over 200 saloons. Thousands of miners would flood the streets after their shifts to drink and gamble, creating a nefarious reputation for the “Richest Hill on Earth.” While today the city’s mine acts only as a museum, Butte retains the old saloons that made it infamous, as well as a host of bars that keep the city’s rowdy spirit alive.
Filled with four-leaf clovers, Irish flags, and a mining leprechaun on the roof, Maloney’s is an Irish bar through and through. Particularly popular on St Patrick’s day, stop by Maloney’s to enjoy cheap beer and meet locals.
Maloney’s Bar, 112 N Main St, Butte, MT, USA +406 723 8016
Founded in 1890, Butte’s famous “cigar store” was reportedly so packed with miners eating, drinking, and gambling throughout the day and night that the owners never closed. The “cigar store” name, used as a not-so-discrete code during prohibition, tells the rich history of the M&M. Although no longer open 24 hours, M&M is a must-visit in Butte. It was once the most popular haunt in the historic uptown and visitors today can hardly miss the neon sign that marks the entrance.
M&M Cigar Store, 9 S Main St, Butte, MT, USA +406 530 6020
The tasting room at Headframe Spirits is an unexpected find for craft cocktails. As opposed to the city’s notoriously rowdy establishments, a two-drink maximum (per Montana law) at Headframe keeps the atmosphere relaxed and casual. Knowledgeable bartenders prepare tasty drinks from the five award-winning Headframe liquors. The root beer float cocktail made with Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur and the hibiscus lemonade containing Headframe’s High Ore Vodka are crowd favorites. Admire the distilling process from a large viewing window in the tasting room, or take one of Headframe’s tours, making sure to pick up a bottle of expertly prepared liquor on the way out.
Headframe Spirits, 21 S Montana St, Butte, MT, USA +406 299 2886
The auto-themed Sparky’s is housed in a former garage, making the kitschy gas station signs and car parts all the more authentic. Owner Daniel Drew has even converted the back of an old pickup into a dining table. Besides the bright decor, Sparky’s also serves barbecue and southern favorites. Ribs, burgers, and southern-fried chicken highlight the menu, as well as a host of decadent sides and desserts. Beer fans seeking variety over quantity will appreciate Sparky’s 20 tap beers, including Montana craft beer. Good for a meal with family, Sparky’s is also great for grabbing a drink and watching the game.
Sparky’s Garage, 222 E Park St, Butte, MT, USA +406 782 2301
Although Butte’s historic saloons may garner much fanfare, low-profile local spots like the Silver Dollar Saloon have continued to support residents with cheap, stiff drinks. “The Dollar” is part of the city’s uptown lore – it was once attached to a brothel – but it maintains a lively atmosphere that continues to make it one of the city’s best. The red interior casts a glow over the stage and dance floor and frequent live music acts tend to play long into the night.
Silver Dollar Saloon, 133 S Main St, Butte, MT, USA +406 782 7367
The lounge of the Hotel Finlen is dark, smoky, and reminiscent of Butte’s copper barons. Old leather chairs and classic cocktails greet visitors who stumble upon the Cavalier. Perfect for a nightcap or a low-key evening enjoying live music and a martini, the Cavalier Lounge is classy and dripping with Butte’s glory days.
Cavalier Lounge, 100 E Broadway St, Butte, MT, USA +406 723 5461