The Ultimate Après-ski Guide — From What to Wear to Where to Go
As any longtime skier knows, it's not uncommon to start the ski day with a whole crew and end it with a friend or two. Half the group wants to hit the moguls, the other half is feeling groomer laps, and there's always someone waiting for everyone else to catch up. It's almost always easiest to break up and choose your own adventure with plans to link up at the end of the day.
That's where après-ski comes into play. It's the lazy, sun-soaked time of the day when friends reunite over drinks to tell tales of powder stashes found, ski bums met, and ski runs conquered. It's a time to loosen your ski boots, check in with your comrades, and rehash your "epic" ski day (tall tales welcome). But before you can fully enjoy that après-ski drink, it'll help to know the ins and outs of this culturally imperative part of the ski day.
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What Is Après-ski?
"Après-ski" is French for "after ski," and it marks the shift from leg-burning ski runs to one-too-many drinks with friends, both old and new. Après usually gets going when the lifts stop turning (or really, anytime after lunch) and wraps up around dinner time. It's arguably just as important to ski culture as the act of skiing itself.
Depending on where you go, you'll find anything from PBR-fueled table dancing (in ski boots, no less) to sophisticated wine and charcuterie on cobblestone streets. But a few things remain the same wherever you go: Everyone is sun kissed and merry, and there will be plenty of ski stories and alcohol-forged friendships.
What Do You Wear to Après?
The best part about après-ski is that there is no dress code — even if you plan to end your ski day in a high-end wine bar. For the most part, people walk off the slopes with their skis slung over their shoulder and head straight to après; there's no need to change clothes or freshen up. Drop your skis at the ski rack out front or pony up for a ski locker to stash your gear while you enjoy a cold one with your fellow powder hounds.
And, since you won't want to spend the next few hours in your goggles and helmet, you might want to tuck a ski hat and sunnies in your jacket pocket (or ski backpack) so you can hide out from the late-afternoon sun without looking too ridiculous.
If you're not a skier, but are joining the crew for an après drink, keep it casual — jeans, boots, a jacket, and ski hat are all you need to fit right in.
Après-ski Dos and Don'ts
Like any culture, après-ski culture has its own list of dos and don'ts. Your skis for example, don't belong inside the bar or propped up against your patio table. Put them on the ski racks out front, or, if you're worried about them getting snatched, drop them by the ski valet, your hotel, car, or ski locker.
And, even though almost everyone is dying to get their ski boots off, if you choose to walk to the bar in your ski boots, be ready to leave them on. It's bad practice — and a smelly one — to pull off your ski boots and walk around the bar in your ski socks. The après-ski scene may be casual, but your sweaty feet aren't welcome. If you have a ski boot aversion, stash a pair of shoes in your ski locker or run to your hotel or car for a quick shoe swap.
Where Can You Find the World's Best Après-ski?
Toasting after a day on the hill is a universal part of ski culture — it doesn't matter where in the world you are. The tradition is said to have started in Norway in the mid-1800s but took flight in the Alps in the 1950s. Today, it's honored around the world, from Chile to Chamonix.
Nestled where France, Switzerland, and Italy meet, this sprawling resort (which sits in France) has some of the best and liveliest après spots in the world. Toss a drink back on the terrace of Chambre Neuf inside the Langley Hotel Gustavia or visit the après-renowned La Folie Douce Hotel for a cocktail or two.
When it comes to skiing in Colorado, it's hard to top Aspen-Snowmass. With one lift ticket you get access to four mountains spread between the towns of Aspen and Snowmass. For a more mellow, unpretentious take on the area's roaring après scene, sip on a beer and play a game of pool at Zane's Tavern in Snowmass Village or order a margarita and table-side guac at Venga Venga. If you're ending your day in Aspen proper, head to Ajax Tavern in The Little Nell for a cocktail on their sun-drenched patio.
It's not surprising that Portillo, which was South America's first ski resort, has some of the continent's best après-ski spots. And when it comes to post-ski drinks, it's hard to beat the deck at Tío Bob's. Grab a drink, put up your feet, and enjoy the views.
St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton has a long role in ski history, but in addition to skiing, the Austrian village is known for putting on quite a show during après. Try to nab a table at the always popular MooserWit or Krazy Kanguruh, which has been around since 1965 — the early days of après.
Park City, Utah
You might not think Utah and partying have much in common, but it's a whole other world in Park City. This ski town — which is home to the largest ski area in the United States — has a fantastic après-ski scene, especially if you end your day at the ski-in, ski-out High West Distillery.
Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
When it comes to skiing, Whistler Blackcomb is hard to top, but the resort's après offerings aren't lacking either. The rustic and long-running Dusty's Bar & BBQ is the place to be when the lifts stop turning (especially if there's live music).
Alta Badia, Italy
With a location smack dab in the Dolomites, you might have a hard time ending your Alta Badia ski day, but we promise, the après scene is just as good. In the resort's village of Corvara, you can grab an aperitivo at Caffe della Posta or take it up a notch at L'Murin, a beer garden with unbeatable mountain views and a party vibe.