Golf has it’s 19th hole. Football matches have after parties. And skiing has après ski. That’s when skiers depart the slopes in favor of a bar, tavern, warming hut or igloo (!) for some drinking and dancing and socializing — and then drinking some more.
The après ski concept has taken hold in some places more than others. Here’s Spot Cool Stuff’s rundown of the coolest après ski countries. Read on or click through to your country of choice:
Go après ski in Austria and it’s like eating at a sushi restaurant in Japan or hula dancing in Hawaii. Austria is the place for après skiing — it’s the birthplace of the concept and still the best place to partake. A whole genre of après ski songs have even sprung up to support and celebrate all that partying.
The variety and quantity of après venues in Austria is astounding, but any discussion of them has to start with Mooserwirt and Krazy Kangaruh. Both bars are located virtually next door to each other on the main ski run of St. Anton. Imagine a combination of a ski lodge and Animal House: people dancing in ski boots up on the tables, couples making out in corners and friendly fräuleins working the crowd pouring Jägermeister shots into people’s mouths.
St. Anton, together with the nearby resort of Ischgl, have the world’s rowdiest après ski crowds. But Austria has pretty much every type to après scene you could want, from family friendly (try Obergurgl) to rich and glamorous (Lech) to older and slower-paced (Oberau). Perhaps nowhere typifies the variety more than Mayhofen — the resort has plenty of techno-centric nightclubs (of them, we prefer Schlüsselalm) but is also home to our single favorite après bar to kick back and chill out: the White Lounge ice bar. It’s inside a series of igloos! (See how the bar is constructed in the video, below.)
Best après ski resorts: Virtually all of them, but most especially St. Anton, Ischgl and Mayhofen
In the east of the country, the height of après ski fun, both literally and figuratively, is in Quebec, a two hour drive north of Ottawa, at Mont Tremblant. Skiers here have their choice of at least five cool bars and nightclubs hosting après revelry. Le P’tit Caribou is our choice for those 21 and older; teens and parents looking for a more family friendly atmosphere should try Le Shack Resto Bar.
In western Canada, ski enthusiasts can (and do) have heated discussions about which resort has the best après scene. We’re partial to Whistler in British Columbia. It has Canada’s best known and most popular après ski bar, the Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill, which sports a wonderful patio, fantastic music and a bevy of special events, all in a prime location above the Whistler Gondola building. But there are lots of other great bars and nightclubs too, including the Irish-themed Dubh Linn Gate, the Caribbean-themed Jamaican Bobsled Team Hospitality House and the country-western-themed Longhorn Saloon. Can’t pick between them? There are organized après bar crawls that will hit them all.
Best après ski resorts: Whistler, Mont Tremblant, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper / Marmot Basin
When the snow melts in Europe and North America, Bariloche gets going. A large slice of the Buenos Aires dining and night life scene can be found here from the first snow fall (usually in June) through early September. July has the best skiing but for the après ski there’s no better time to visit than during August’s National Snow Festival. In addition to the ski races and wild parties, the festival includes a torchlight parade, street buskers, a snow rugby tournament and, of course, the Election of the Queen of Snow and Chocolate.
Best après ski resort: Bariloche
Virtually every large ski resort in the United States has some sort of après ski. With so many choices, it’s impossible to pick a favorite bar. But among our favorites we’d include:
• The difficult-to-get-to Minturn Saloon, a charmingly ramshackled place in otherwise chichi Vail. (For a more traditional place in Vail, try the drinks and people watching at Garfinkel’s).
• The Lobby Lounge at the Viceroy Snowmass, where you can sip fine cognac in front of a double-sided fireplace in Aspen.
• The Montanya Distillery in Silverton, Colorado — a rum distillery in an antique Victorian home!
• The wild west-themed The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, in Jackson Hole where horse saddles double as bar stools.
• Le Chamois & the Loft Bar, a ski-in and ski-out bar in Squaw Valley, where “The Buddy Pass” will get you 20 pints of Budweiser for a mere $40!
• The Shed, a brewery that serves samples on old skis, at Vermont’s Stowe resort.
While picking out America’s best après ski bars might be an impossible task, choosing the best way to travel between bars is not. That distinction goes to the multimedia transportation provided by the Ultimate Taxi in Aspen — a traditional checker cab with a very nontraditional laser light show, disco ball and fog machine inside the vehicle! The gregarious driver will sing, play musical instruments and work some DJ magic on the sound mixing board all while steering your to your next après ski destination. (Those concerned about distracted driving should most definitely look for their ride elsewhere.)
Best après ski resorts: Aspen, Vail, Telluride, Breckenridge, Jackson Hole, Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley, Killington
Val d’Isere has the coolest après ski scene in France (and in Italy too, a mere 5km away). The resort is famous for drawing the rich and beautiful. Those in the former category don’t seem to mind paying the exorbitant alcohol prices. Those in the latter category presumably find some one in the former category to pay for them. If you are in neither category consider heading to Cafe Face around 4pm when pints of beer can be had for €2. Alternatively, the nearby Tignes resort has more budget-friendly après ski offerings.
What’s sometimes lost in the glitz and glamor of the Val d’Isere party scene is the skiing is absolutely fabulous too. There are 2 glaciers and 94 lifts that can carry you to an astounding 300 kilometers of trails. If you are a less-than-expert skier consider heading from Rocher de Bellevarde to the “ski tranquille” area.
Best apres ski resorts: Val d’Isere, Les Deux Alpes, Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Courchevel, Méribel, Megève