World’s Best Après-Ski Bars
A happening bar scene is as crucial to a ski town’s success as stellar snow conditions. “Skiing is a social sport by nature, but it’s the après-ski culture of relaxing with friends and recounting the day’s adventures that really makes a ski vacation awesome,” says Erica Mueller, director of relations at Colorado’s Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
Toasting post-shred—no matter language, location, or libation—is universal. And it doesn’t matter whether you aced a black diamond mogul, skidded down the bunny hill, or spent the afternoon curled up by the fire. Any and all such daytime activities warrant an invite to lift a glass and kick up your heels as the sun begins to kiss the mountaintops.
Après-ski is a time-tested tradition begun in Telemark, Norway, in the mid-1800s. Back then, it was grog or aquavit shared among friends at skiers’ homes. Today, no longer the humble house gathering, wintertime mountain merrymaking is soaring to new elevations.
Twerk in your ski boots at a Vegas-style club in Lake Tahoe, NV; don furs at a bar fashioned from 20 tons of ice in Queenstown, New Zealand; clink glasses of champagne paired with caviar at Aspen, CO’s roving pop-up Oasis Bar; or hug complete strangers while shooting schnapps at Trofana Alm in Austria.
From refined to rowdy, we’ve rounded up 17 bars where you can celebrate post-slopes.
High West Distillery, Park City, UT
Within a historic Victorian-era house in downtown Park City, High West is the world’s only ski-in, ski-out distillery. Swish in on Park City Mountain Resort’s Quittin’ Time run and take a guided tour that includes a whiskey tasting. Or just head straight to the bar for a potent libation like Dead Man’s Boots of rye, tequila, and ginger beer. High West’s gastro-saloon specialties include local Utah trout, bourbon chili, bison cottage pie, and fresh-baked pretzels with a side of beer-infused cheese.
Trofana Alm, Ischgl, Austria
With more than 40 bars, Ischgl is to après-ski what Ibiza is to spring break. For the heart of the action, head to Trofana Alm, an old barn turned bi-level bar. Revelers sing at the top of their lungs to oompah and Europop songs, down shots of apple schnapps, and dance like no one’s watching. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered a round of drinks—and a bear hug.
Tio Bob's, Chile
This rustic slopeside lodge overlooks the Inca Lake and Andes Mountains, a gorgeous panorama accessible to skiers and those who prefer to catch a ride on the chairlift. Grab a table on the snow-covered deck for a two-pisco-sour lunch among the ski pros who come to Portillo for training during North America’s off-season. Uncle Bob’s restaurant is open only in the early afternoon, but the indoor bar stays up ’til midnight.
Oasis Champagne Bar, Aspen, CO
Taking cues from the roving food truck trend, Oasis pops up in different locations on Aspen Mountain via Snowcat (in 2015, it opens President’s Day weekend). “Because the Oasis may be gone as quickly as it appears, it compels you to experience it, or risk missing the opportunity,” says Ted Mahon, a longtime Aspen ski instructor. Serving Veuve Clicquot champagne and caviar, this posh watering hole broadcasts clues about its new location each weekend on Little Nell’s Twitter/Facebook.
The Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, CO
Just as tropical resorts have swim-up bars, Crested Butte Mountain has its very own “ski-in” bar. In front of Uley’s Cabin (the on-mountain fine-dining restaurant accessible by sleigh ride in the evenings), The Ice Bar serves up Colorado brews and cocktails like The Breath of God made with locally distilled Montanya rum, beer, cassis, and bitters. Just keep your gloves on; this place really is made of ice with a snow-covered bar top.
Bar Gyu+, Niseko, Japan
Mount Niseko-Annupuri is Japan’s most popular ski destination, and the town of Niseko supports more than 50 bars and restaurants. We’re partial to hard-to-find Gyu Bar, also known as the Fridge Door bar—look for a tiny, red freezer door amid a snowbank, and make sure to duck your head when you enter. Groovy jazz tunes playing from a vintage turntable fill the air. Artfully made concoctions with Japanese whiskey are flowing, and a mix of trendy Europeans and local skiers populate the candlelit tables.
Tea del Vidal, Livigno, Italy
Located at the base of the Mottolino Mountain gondola lift, this hot spot is hopping until 2 a.m., with a different theme each night. Join the disco party Monday nights or the Latin party with dance instruction Friday nights. Need some liquid courage before shaking your groove thing? Order the bombardino—Italian eggnog served warm—a house specialty allegedly invented at Tea Del Vidal more than 40 years ago.
Mangy Moose Saloon, Jackson Hole, WY
Opened in 1967, two years after Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Mangy Moose is a landmark watering hole with a collection of wacky moose memorabilia. Starting at 4 p.m. during ski season, groove to live music from local artists and headliner bands like 2 Live Crew and Glenn Miller Orchestra. Signature drinks include Moose Drool Ale on tap, the Spicy (a margarita with tequila infused with jalapeño, strawberries, and pineapples), and shotskis. Multiple shot glasses are glued to a ski, and, at the count of three, tip the ski—cheers!
Minus 5º ICE BAR, Queenstown, New Zealand
Known as the “coolest” bar in Queenstown, Steamer Wharf’s Ice Bar is a must-see for the whole family after a day of skiing or snowboarding at Coronet Peak or The Remarkables. Outfitted in fur hats and warm coats provided by the bar, you’ll wander past 18 tons of clear ice architecture, including furniture, artistic sculptures, and glassware. Tickets start at $12 for kids (includes one mocktail) and $24 for adults (includes one cocktail).
Garibaldi Lift Company, Whistler, BC
At GLC, as the locals call it, the theme is “All hail Caesar”—Caesar the drink, that is. Head to the patio with Canada’s unofficial cocktail of choice (vodka, tomato juice, clam broth, and Worcestershire sauce) for views of skiers zooming down Whistler Mountain. It’s kid friendly until 8 p.m., when GLC transitions from pub to nightclub with DJs, live bands, comedy acts, and silent discos.
The Bavarian Restaurant, Taos Ski Valley, NM
No, you haven’t taken the wrong chairlift and turned up in Germany. Still, The Bavarian does its best to convince you, with dirndl- and lederhosen-clad servers plying giant steins of hefeweizen and heaping platters of Wiener schnitzel and sauerkraut. Spirited Tyrolean oompah music fills the air, and the fire blazes from within a Kachelofen stove. It’s a spirited slice of Ammergau Alps culture at the base of Kachina Peak—gemütlich, southwestern style.
The Roost, Stowe, VT
Within the recently renovated Topnotch Resort, The Roost is a chic off-mountain spot for stiff drinks, hearty dishes, and stellar views of Mount Mansfield via floor-to-ceiling windows. Still hankering for playtime after skiing or snowboarding on Stowe Mountain? Duel it out with friends at the shuffleboard dining bar or bocce court. During the weekends, the lounge features nightly entertainment—from karaoke to trivia night.
Le Rond Point, Meribel, France
It’s only fitting that the world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées, should also feature the largest après-ski bar in France. Le Rond Point (a.k.a. Ronnie’s), located off the Marmotte ski trail, hosts bands or DJs every afternoon, seven days a week. Kick back as the sun sinks below the French Alps with a helping of toffee vodka—Ronnie’s signature hooch—in hand.
Trikoni Tavern, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia
With retro ski gear and photos of past expeditions on the walls, Trikoni is a boisterous, Cheers-style pub where everybody knows your name—or they will by the end of the night. After racing down Rosa Khutor’s nearly 50 miles of trails, recoup with hot borscht topped with sour cream, kholodets (jellied meat), potato pancakes, and no doubt, lots of vodka or Russian ales. Most nights, folk music groups perform until late for a crowd that includes ski pros and instructors.
Papperla Pub, Zermatt, Switzerland
From Rothorn mountain via a cable car, head into the posh, car-free village of Zermatt for a wild time at Papperla Pub. Make a Jäger bomb with a tap of the nose or ask the wig-clad bartender to spin the wheel to win shots or a bottle of the secret house brew. Prefer sans-shots celebrating? Make like a local with Jägertee (like a supercharged sangria of overproof rum, black tea, red wine, plum brandy, orange juice, and spices). To snag one of the coveted red director chairs on the terrace overlooking the Matterhorn, get there before the lifts close. It fills up faster than you can gulp down glühwein.
Cerveceria Blest, Bariloche, Argentina
Opened in 1997 as Argentina’s first brewpub, Cerveceria Blest offers five Blest beers on tap, plus a myriad of international brews. Can’t decide what to drink or simply stoked about summertime skiing? Order the après-ski beer sampler; the staff will help you select which to choose based on your tastes. And if so inspired, autograph a coaster to be added to the hundreds of other personalized coasters (contributed by guests throughout the years) that decorate the walls.
Unbuckle, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Imagine Vegas-style clubbing, but with puffy clothing and snowcapped Sierras in the distance. That pretty much sums up the Unbuckle experience, which takes over the on-mountain Tamarack Lodge Thursdays through Saturdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. If you’ve never boogied in ski boots before, here’s your chance. At precisely 3:45 p.m., a Cupid Shuffle flash mob breaks out on the dance floor. Option B: follow the Heavenly Angels—pro skiers by day, go-go dancers by après-ski—out on the patio for half-price drinks, eats, and lots more shaking in your boots to DJ’ed tunes.