North America’s Best Après Ski Bars, Part 2

They had me at "Ski Bum Party Happy Hour!"

This project, which I began in my last post, is more daunting than I expected: there are sooo many great après ski bars, and not enough time to visit them all, and in just about every ski town there are passionate contentions abut what is the best après spot.

So as I continue in this valiant quest, remember that this list is not exclusive – if your favorite après post is missing don’t get mad. However, believe me that every one on this list is worth visiting.

The Trap Bar & Grille, Grand Targhee, WY: Any bar at the base of a mountain like Targhee is going to be great. This is the kind of old school resort that caters to passionate locals and equally motivated visitors – you didn’t come here because you saw some package vacation advertised on Expedia, you came for the off beat flair and deep powder. The Trap is classic and the live music might be Western Swing dancing one day, Celtic the next. The booze and deep snow are the only constants.

39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel, Aspen: Downtown meets ski country, with funky lights, funky furniture, funky martinis, funky everything. Think Brooklyn without the annoying hipsters, and while the great skiers will be doing après someplace else, the great dressers will be here.

Coyote Café, Beaver Creek, CO: Beaver Creek is the Disney of ski resorts, from the impeccably groomed cruisers to the many escalators so no one has to do stairs in their ski boots to the vast expanses of radiant heated sidewalks. I love the Beav, especially because the good powder is left undisturbed by the average patron, and they do it right, but everything here is perfect, and perfectly fake, and it is hard to fit authentic après into a scene like that. So here is the last resort après lover’s secret, revealed for the first time: when in doubt, watch where the ski patrollers go to drink. There you have it. The Coyote.

Casey’s Caboose, Killington, VT: When you get to an après bar that hasn’t opened yet and there is a line out the door, you know you are in the right place. I used to spend a LOT of time up at Killington, and this is a personal fave pick from way back. The free après chicken wings are both a lifesaver and a wallet buster because they make you drink way more than you would have, but that’s part of the fun. It’s small, and you really enjoy it more if you can get a seat at the bar, so kick off early and stand on line!

Mangy Moose, Jackson Hole, WY: Yes, I was asked to leave the Moose, my claim to fame. Once upon a time, the Moose was to Teton Village, the “town” at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, what the Avalanche is to Crested Butte or the Trap to Targhee or the Bier Stube to Whitefish, but that was before Jackson got the Four Seasons and lots of other luxury hotels and Teton Village became “hot.” In some ways the victim of its own success, the Moose is to après what Sloppy Joe’s in Key West is to tourist bars or Pat O’Briens in New Orleans is to umbrella drinks, a tourist trap that has become a parody of its former self, but a really good parody, and the fact is that Jackson Hole skiing rocks big time, all the other good après bars are in the town of Jackson, too long a wait for a post skiing drink, and I don’t need to tell you, you are going here anyway so enjoy.

The Sitzmark, Alta, UT: First off, Utah has more great ski resorts than any state, and better snow, but it has never been known for its bar scene. This is unfair, as times (and archaic laws) have changed, and there are plenty of places to drink in Utah, but even Park City, a real honest to goodness ski town, does not have standout, time honored “joint.” The Sitzmark offers two big advantages: it’s been there forever, and thus has the pre-requisite ski bar charm, right down to the old wooden planks on the walls, and it is in Alta, where there is quite literally nothing to do after skiing but drink, so after cabin fever sets in, you would love anyplace with bottles.

Notice a theme? Great ski bars have great signs.

Bart & Yeti’s, Vail, CO: This is another personal fave, as lots of Vail lovers are more likely to pick someplace else. I am dog crazy, and Bart & Yeti’s is a dog themed bar, and usually ahs an actual dog at the bar, which immediately wins me over. More importantly, it was a hole in the wall in the Lionshead base area before Lionshead was cool. After a kazillion dollar redevelopment, including one of the snazziest ultra-pricey ski hotels on earth, the Arrabelle, both the cost of living, the rent, and the net worth of visitors has gone way up. In some way it is easier to find good gelato than a good bar here these days, but Bart & Yeti’s keeps it real, old school.

Part 3, More Great Après, Coming Soon!

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