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Copper: Bozeman’s Underground Whiskey Bar & Grill

Ashlee Yerrick  |  Friday May. 30th, 2014

Copper is undoubtedly one of those hip and cozy spots that is great for a variety of occasions, whether it be a quick happy hour stop for a couple of beers, a fun date night with that special someone or just a casual evening out with friends. I have personally been to Copper for all of these occasions, and even though I’m not always blown away by the food, I always receive the best customer service, while enjoying the sleek vibe that this underground whiskey bar has to offer.

The staff at Copper are always welcoming and personable, in addition to being highly informative about the food and drink items on the menu. I’ve never had a subpar experience while enjoying my visit in the bar area and at the bar rail, and although I can’t vouch for the service provided in the separate dining room space, I’d hope it’s just as professional over there. My party and I always feel like our business is greatly appreciated, and the staff seem to work very well together without any conflicts or negative attitudes. It’s always a fun time interacting with them when they have a free minute to chit chat and answer questions.  

Let’s start with the drink options, in particular the whiskey list, since this spirit is definitely one of Copper’s strong points. The whiskey menu is endless – great variety of all types, with the option of enjoying them any way you prefer. They also have a decent cocktail list, with anything from Manhattans to Rye Sours.  I usually go for the $4 microbrews, which are $1 off during happy hour. They have a nice selection of local Montana-made beers, in addition to your typical Guinness and Stella that are usually found elsewhere. Lastly, the wine list is sufficient for finding something to pair with your steak frites or fish tacos, but could use some additional choices, particularly in the wines by the glass section.

A few great characteristics that Copper has going for them is that all of the beef is from Montana, they smoke and grind some of the meats in-house and the sides are all advertised as “made from scratch.” Now, just a few side notes about the food I’ve had during past outings to Copper: I’ve tried smoked chicken wings, a mahi mahi sandwich, deviled eggs and the steak frites. The chicken wings were nice and smoky, but when you receive six small little wings for $7, it’s almost tough for me to justify ordering a second round. The fish sandwich that I had (which is no longer on the menu) had a nice flavor overall, but this was easily unrecognized due to the fish to bun ratio.  I remember using only one piece of my bun, which made my sandwich more enjoyable than it would’ve otherwise been, had I used both behemoth pieces of bun provided. The deviled eggs were a nice accompaniment to a cold, delicious MT microbrew, and I appreciated the three different flavors in each order of deviled eggs: 1) Lobster, sour cream, dill and caviar, 2) Chipotle, chorizo and queso fresco and 3) Truffled portabella mushrooms, parmesan and chives. As for the steak frites, this was the best dish that I’ve eaten at Copper. The juicy and plump pieces of hanger steak were delivered piping hot and cooked to a perfect medium rare; this dish was delicious in every possible way. Upgrade the basic “frites” to the garlic “frites,” and call it a day.  

Fast forward to present day. The smoked prime rib was ordered during my most recent visit, and I was severely disappointed with this selection, as was my husband. After our knowledgeable bartender answered several of our questions regarding the smoked prime rib special, we decided to share the 16oz portion, which is served with the vegetable of the day and your choice of side. We were so underwhelmed that we literally took half of our dinner home as a treat for our chocolate lab puppy. The most significant issue I had with this dish was the flavor. When requested that our prime rib be extra-seasoned, almost “encrusted” and cooked to a perfect med-rare, I was disappointed in the fact that although it came out cooked perfectly, there was barely any trace of the two most important and basic kitchen staples – salt and pepper. The horseradish and au jus served alongside were great – dangerously spicy horseradish, as it should be. The garlic fries that we opted for as our choice of side were addicting. They came out crispy and garlicky, and we both agreed that we would order these again without a doubt. Prior to our entrée, we shared a beet salad, which seemed to be overpriced and lacking in flavor and size. A single, warmed goat cheese medallion atop the salad was a nice effort, but the bread crumb coating could’ve used some herbs and again, salt and pepper, mixed in before the small cheese disc was coated and baked. Basically, it was just warm goat cheese and breadcrumbs, and there was only one medallion, which for $10, should have been served with at least two cheese medallions, in addition to more beets and greens.  

Overall, Copper truly is a great place and seems to be successfully thriving on any given night.  It’s definitely the kind of place that Bozeman needs. I can’t say that I will ever order the beet salad or prime rib again, but I know I will undeniably be returning for another round of the steak frites and some cold beers. Copper Whiskey Bar & Grill is a true standout if you’re looking for a great atmosphere, professional staff and a multitude of whiskey selections.

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