The après-ski ritual is the great equalizer in the ski-day. Whether the accomplishment du jour was conquering a long-coveted expert line, or finely paralleled turns on the bunny slope, après is the one place where everyone stands on equal ground. In fact, we daresay, après-ski sessions are highlight of many ski trips.
In the last few years, there has been an abundant crop of new bars, some innovative, some traditional, but all with the same goal in mind: keep the skiing high as long as possible. And thankfully, the hottest spots in après-hedonism are no longer the dirtiest dive bars around. We’ve rounded up a sampling of what the new après scene has to offer.
Frost, Vail, Colorado: Despite the name, a cozy interior and vibe give this funky cocktail spot all it needs to provide the perfect venue to relax and indulge in the heart of Vail Village. A fun, sophisticated crowd opens the door to an alternative après scene, without the Jagerbombs, stumbling, and ski boots till midnight.
Smak Bar, Telluride, CO: Located in the Hotel Madeline, right off the main plaza in Mountain Village, the new Smak Bar boasts a minimalist interior design theme and inspired year-round locavore fare. A local favorite for ski bums in duct-taped Gore-tex, as well as the gathering point for imbibing jetsetters. Don’t leave Telluride until you at least try Smak’s instantly legendary Bloody Mary.
The Meatball Shack, Aspen, CO: Serving up Italian-inspired gourmet fare with a ski town twist, Aspen locals opened this whimsical and increasingly popular spot over this past summer. Forget the nachos – grab a beer and munch on meatball tartare wrapped with Tuscan summer truffles and lobster balls with caviar, micro chives and crème fraîche.
Finbarr’s Irish Pub, Aspen, CO: Walking distance from the lifts, this lively spot, based on the traditional Irish pub with a modern, chic, twist opened its doors last season. With the goal of bring Aspen’s all-inclusive town gathering spot, Finbarr’s packs all members of Aspen’s community into its sleek interior for ‘elevated gastro-pub’ fare and easy on the wallet drinks.
Rocker@Squaw, Squaw Valley, California: Inspired in part the late, Squaw-based skier Shane McConkey, Rocker celebrates the passion of all the exceptional athletes and riotous characters that the Squaw scene is known for. The bar boasts RockerTV, where revelers can upload footage of their day for a chance to join their heroes onscreen at the bar. It also offers a 5lb., $50 ‘Gnar-burger,’ in case you and nine of your friends are hungry.
The Handle Bar, Teton Village, WY: Just steps from the base of the lifts is this playfully named new addition to Jackson Hole’s après ski scene. With a dangerous five-hour! happy hour, casual dining options, a huge outdoor terrace and a cozy-chic locale in the slope-side Four Seasons Hotel, the Handle Bar is sure to up the après ante for the rowdy Wyoming crowd – locals and visitors alike.
Wino, Revelstoke, BC, Canada: Revelstoke’s 5,620’ vertical drop of lift-served terrain, heli and cat skiing options, and 40-60 feet of annual snowfall are capturing the attention of the industry. This is resort also knows how essential it is to celebrate after a day on the slopes. At the base of the gondola is Wino, with a Euro-après focus on wines and cocktails. Twinkling inlaid lights offset the industrial look of the bar inside, or you can head outside to kick back and enjoy the massive Selkirk views from the fire pits.
Loft, Verbier, Switzerland: Europe is where après was born. And they don’t take it lightly. If you want to party all night in your ski boots with a wild international crowd that may or may not have a penchant for dancing on the furniture, hit up The Loft Bar. Opened by the former owners of Verbier’s popular Wonderbar, Loft offers a massive deck, spectacular scenery, and cheap drinks (which is key when coughing up Swiss francs).