With its red and white classic two-story Victorian exterior, its 40-foot bar, original woodwork and trophy-antlered walls, the Palace Saloon has been a community institution since 1890. Back in the day, local merchants, cattlemen, dairymen and townsfolk, all made the Palace their go-to for news, gossip, drinks and good company. These days, most folks stop by after work for a pint or two, relax and catch up with friends. It's a local's bar where work boots and Carhartts are king.

Palace owners Dave and Barb Mogni, who took over the business in January and who also own the iconic Ivanhoe restaurant and hotel just up the street, are all about Ferndale's agricultural heritage and local community. "Barb and I love this town and we see the Palace as a way for us to help preserve a little local history while serving the town and travelers," says Dave Mogni, who's proud of the bar's pedigree. "You know the Palace is recognized as the farthest westernly bar in the continental United States, right?"

click to enlarge DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland

Happy hour (4-6 pm weekdays) is often a lively meet up, especially on Fridays when Eel River IPA, Ankerstein, Steelhead, Great White, Stella Artois and Budweiser flow freely from the taps. On tap or bottled, beer's always a win. But the current local fave is the Guido — two parts vodka, two parts cranberry and a shot of peach schnapps. Some like it on the rocks, others like it in a martini glass. But all who partake agree it's a bit of liquid summer sunshine in a glass.

The Palace Saloon really goes off during Ferndale's special events, when out-of-towners get their best glimpse of the bar — Or at least a glimpse of the bar at its fullest and rowdiest. The town hosts the finish line of Humboldt County's famous, three-day kinetic sculpture race. Racers and spectators from all over the world converge on tiny Ferndale. "It gets pretty crazy around here Sunday and Monday of race weekend," says Dave Mogni, "and it's all in good fun." The bar's two pool tables and full-sized shuffleboard get a lot of play, and locals and out-of-towners mix and mingle and enjoy the respective wackiness and classic charm the race and Ferndale have to offer. By Wednesday and Thursday, the town slows way down. But by Friday, the locals are back en force in time for happy hour. And a Guido on the rocks.

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Josephine Johnson

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