Après ski. You’ve heard the term. You’ve used the term. You know it maybe has something to do with, well, skiing. Something that seems to involve craft beer or fireside chats or live music. But you’re not sure exactly what.
Never fear, the Vail après-ski crew is here. We’ll not only give you a solid definition of this fancy foreign phrase, but we’ll tell you how to live it in Vail.
What is Après Ski?
As with many fancy things, “après ski” comes from the French. It translates to “after skiing.” It encompasses any or all of the entertaining, social, anti-social, musical or non-musical activities you do after the day’s skiing is done.
So yes, that can involve craft beer, fireside chats and live music. But it can also include hot tubs, hot chocolate, hot springs or a hot toddy. It can likewise encompass classic cocktails, classical music, gourmet coffee, gourmet ice cream or even ice skating. You choose how to celebrate a great day on the slopes while you merrily unwind.
Après-ski activities have traditionally begun in the late afternoon. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only time you’ll find après-ski activities going on, especially in Vail. You can also create your own après-ski scene any time you like, no matter when you schuss down the mountain one last time.
The phrase gained momentum in the Alps during the 1950s, made its way to North America soon after, and hasn’t stopped since.
What to Wear?
There’s no official dress code for the après-ski scene, although you do want to ditch the clunky ski boots. They tend to make it hard to walk. Because the activities typically happen right after skiing or snowboarding, you’ll often find folks still donning their finest ski hat, ski jacket and other ski clothing as they kick back with a steaming hot chocolate, ice cold beer or frozen margarita.
Wear whatever is most comfortable and appropriate for whatever activity you decide to pursue. And please skip the ski jacket if you’re heading for the hot tub.
Après & Live Music
What makes après in Vail even better? Why live music, of course. Check out the lineup of live music and special après parties every month this winter beginning in November, including Vail’s 60th birthday bash on December 15-17. Enjoy hot chocolate, handcrafted cocktails and gourmet snacks at Vail’s hottest après spots.
Best Après-Ski Spots in Vail
Because Vail is one of the hottest ski resorts in the world, you can bet it also has some of the hottest après-ski spots. In fact, you’d probably run across several just by roaming aimlessly around town after your day skiing. But we’re going to list a bunch for you anyway.
For Happy Hour
The George: Located in Vail’s Mountain Haus, The George serves up one big party every single day. It’s best known for its creative bar bites and cocktails – and extremely festive atmosphere. Go, just go.
Vendetta’s: As Vail’s premier Italian restaurant and pizza bar, Vendetta’s is a place to eat as heartily as you drink. Beer, wine, house cocktails and post-dinner drinks are on the menu. And the Vail Ski Patrol is probably somewhere in the back. It’s long been known as their hangout at the end of the day.
Bart & Yeti’s: Lionshead is home to Bart & Yeti’s, a notorious pub that lures locals as well as visitors with its rustic feel and outdoor deck. Oh yeah, and the kickin’ cocktails – like the Cajun Bloody Mary.
Garfinkel’s: Another iconic Lionshead establishment, Garfinkel’s is the sports bar to end all sports bars. That’s because most sports bars don’t come with a wraparound bar and large deck with mountain views. Honestly, who cares about the game when you have Vail Mountain in your sights? Don’t forget the extensive lineup of craft .
For the Best Hot Chocolate
The Remedy Bar: Located in Vail’s Four Seasons ski resort, The Remedy Bar is the ultimate remedy for a hot chocolate craving. Billed as “The Famous Haut Chocolat,” this decadent drink features house-made marshmallow, chocolate tuile and Chantilly crème. Sigh. So good (and so addictive), they even give you a special price if you buy two.
Rimini Gelato & Chocolate: Another spot that serves up hot chocolate that makes you swoon is Rimini Gelato & Chocolate. This gelato and ice cream shop makes hot chocolate so rich, thick, creamy and dreamy you’ll think you died and went to cocoa heaven.
For Live Music
Red Lion: Whether it’s a live band or solo artist, live entertainment is the name of the game for the Red Lion. So much so, this restaurant and nightclub doesn’t accept reservations for lunch or dinner – but will let you reserve one of two tables in the bar area when their featured artists take the stage. Talk about entertainment!
Shakedown Bar: If the name alone isn’t entertaining enough, this funky club features live music, rock-inspired artwork and LED lighting. With beer and cocktails, of course. Definitely your go-to if you’re looking for a high-energy après scene.
For the Tastiest Snacks
Slope Room: Located in Vail’s Gravity Haus boutique hotel, the Slope Room has a fantastically fun vibe coupled with succulent snacks. Like the Colorado Wagyu Hot Stone, featuring shiso chimichurri, shishito peppers, aji amarillo and pickled red onions. You don’t even have to know what that stuff is to know that sounds so good.
Mountain Standard: How about a hot bowl of Whisky Bacon Onion Soup and Wild Mushroom Flatbread at the end of your ski day? This modern rustic, relaxed tavern serves up some hearty après treats and artisanal crafted adult concoctions with names such as “The Double Deuce” and “Seven Wives”.
Sweet Basil: Belly up to the sleek sophisticated bar at this longtime favorite establishment and ask for the Wagyu Steak Tartare and Smoked Short Rib Croquettes. Wash them down with a gray-whale-gin “Gunwhale” cocktail. Trust us, you’ll want to cut your ski day short for après at Sweet Basil.
For Authentic Bavarian
Pepi’s: Located in the well-known Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer, Pepi’s is a true Vail landmark. That’s because the establishment was founded and run by Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer – the equivalent of Vail royalty. The business is still owned and run by the family, and authentic Bavarian fare is still the most popular option on the menu.
Almresi: Hearty food and rustic charm are two stand-out traits of Almresi, where you’ll find a festive lineup of German, Austrian and Swiss fare. The goal of the German-born owners was to bring a touch of romantic charm and European culture to Vail. Please pass the potatoes. And give me a kiss. It seems they succeeded.
Treff Café: You’ll find the Treff Café nestled in the Sonnenalp Hotel, offering a quaint and casual meeting place for authentic German fare. You’re also sure to dig the creative cocktails, intriguing wine list, and modern European bar vibe.
Gorsuch Ski Café: What started as a place for ski and snowboard apparel, equipment and rentals morphed into a most charming café at the base of Gondola One. Sure, you still have the ski equipment side of things, but you’ll also find a delightful space to hang after an equally delightful day on the slopes.
For the Classy and Chic
Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails: If you thought you were high up on the mountain while skiing, you’ll get even higher with the elevated mountain cuisine at Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails. The dishes here are so absolutely dashing it’s tough to tell if they’re food or if they’re art. Actually, they’re both.
Frost: Classy is definitely a word that comes to mind when you walk into the Frost. Located in Vail’s Sebastian Hotel, this stylish bar features craft cocktails, light fare and an elegant ambiance fit for any après-ski queen.
Elway’s: Of course you recognize the name. This fancy chophouse bears the name of NFL quarterback John Elway. Located in the Lodge at Vail, the establishment serves upscale steak, savory sides, fine wines and creative cocktails.
Gessner Vail & Fireside Lounge: Look up fine dining and you’ll inevitably find the Gessner, located in the Grand Hyatt in Cascade Village. It’s the type of place that uses words like “thoughtfully sourced” on its menu. And you’ll taste that thoughtfulness in every bite. Yum.
Root & Flower: We’re not sure what to love first at Root & Flower. The selection of more than 50 vinos by the glass – or the ever-changing menu of New American cuisine. The solution? You might as well dive into both, just to make sure you don’t miss out on either.
For the View
The 10th: You’ll find the 10th at the top of Gondola One on Vail Mountain, which is where you’ll also find the most breathtaking views. Views so amazing, you might even forget you went there to eat and drink. When you do finally remember to order, make sure your server gives you enough time to sift through the full range of culinary masterpieces on the menu.
Los Amigos: Skiers and snowboarders flock to this hangout not only for its spicy snacking options and killer margaritas, but also for the entertainment. Located slopeside in Vail Village, you have a front row seat to watch as skiers and snowboarders slide down “Pepi’s Face.” This steep, short pitch at the base of the mountain certainly serves up plenty of epic “yard sales.”
The Fitz: Located in Manor Vail at the base of Golden Peak, The Fitz serves up modern flavors with unmatchable mountain views. Golden Peak is one of Vail’s portals, and the restaurant’s scenic patio is the prime spot to gaze upon its majesty.
The Après-Ski Bottom Line
With so many après-ski scene options ready for action, you’d be hard-pressed not to find the perfect spot that suits your mood of the day. And when you’re in a different mood the next day, you’ll find the next perfect spot. Repeat throughout your ski trip, mixing and matching après activities until you’ve tried them all.
And if you’re not able to conquer them all in a single ski holiday, you better book another one. We look forward to seeing you again in Vail next year!