Sandpoint landmark the place for live music and great drinks By Colin Anderson | Photo by Rachel Adair
A Sandpoint icon since 1937, the 219 continues to blend its colorful past while making subtle changes to go with the times; from the early days of back-room poker and a rough-and-tumble crowd to what’s become the go-to spot for live music, one of the best selections of craft whiskeys and beers in Northern Idaho, great classic cocktails and a fun night out.
“The ‘Niner’ had a long reputation of being a smoking, don’t-go-there dive bar,” explains General Manager Mark Terry. “If you haven’t been to see us in the last five years, plan on making a visit. Our purpose is to make everyone feel at home when they take a seat. Local or tourist, young or old, we hope you’ll stop in!”
The Niner is smoke free and has been totally renovated back to its original state from 1937. It emphasizes great music, and many are surprised to see the craft beer list as well as the attention to detail in the house-made cocktails. In fact, the 219 staff pick all their own berries and even grow a few of their own ingredients. “We use fresh-picked blackberries, raspberries and huckleberries when they are in season. We make our own simple syrup with organic sugars and our own ginger syrup, and grow our own mint at the bar,” says Mark.
As far as the tap handles go, you’ll always find a pair of domestics and two ciders. The other 16 handles rotate frequently, showcasing regional breweries, and might include anything from a West Coast IPA, to a bourbon barrel stout, to a huckleberry pie sour.
Mark stresses consistency with his bartending staff of six, that way no matter who is behind the bar, your favorite cocktail will be just like the last one you had. And, if you are looking for that special bourbon or Scotch, the Niner has a selection second to none! “The attention customers receive and the quality of our barkeeps is what I truly believe keeps our little bar rockin’.”
As it inches closer and closer to 100 years of operation, the 219 will continue to adapt to the times while preserving what keeps both locals and visitors back time and time again. “It still baffles me how long the bar has been open and to know that I’m a small part of a legacy of an amazing gathering spot,” says Mark. “Seeing the positive evolution of the bar in the past five years makes me extremely proud of the hard work all the employees have put in. It shows.”
219 N. 1st Ave., Sandpoint, ID