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What is Après-Ski?

Après-ski. You’ve heard the term. You’ve used the term. You know it’s related to skiing! It’s something that seems to involve craft beer, fireside socializing and live music. But what is it really?

Not to worry, your Vail après-ski crew is here to explain things. We’ll not only give you a solid definition of this fancy phrase; we’ll tell you how to experience it right here in Vail, Colorado.

What is Après-Ski?
Your Après-Ski Style
Best Après-Ski Spots in Vail
Après & Live Music
Vail’s Après-Ski Bottom Line

What is Après-Ski?

As with many fancy things, “après-ski” comes from the French. It translates to “after skiing.” It encompasses all of the entertaining, social and musical activities you can do after the day’s skiing is done.

So yes, that can involve craft beer, hanging out by a fireplace and acoustic guitars. But it can also include hot tubs, hot chocolate or a hot toddy. It can likewise encompass classic cocktails, classical music, gourmet coffee, artisanal ice cream and even ice skating. You get to choose how you celebrate a great day on the slopes.

Après-ski activities traditionally begin in the late afternoon. But that’s not the only time you’ll find après-ski fun going on. You can create your own après-ski scene any time you like, no matter when you schuss down Vail Mountain for your final lap.

The phrase — après-ski — gained momentum in the Alps during the 1950s, then made its way to North America soon after … and hasn’t stopped since.

Your Après-Ski Style: What to Wear?

Friends enjoying beer and appetizers at an apres-ski restaurant in Vail. Behind them are skies propped up on the wall as they laugh with each other and dip chips into a dip.

There’s no official dress code for Vail’s après-ski scene, although you will 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 layers as they kick back with a steaming hot chocolate, ice-cold beer or frozen margarita. Wear whatever is most comfortable and appropriate for whichever activity you decide to pursue.

Best Après-Ski Bars & Restaurants in Vail

A crowd of skiers gather on the outdoor patio of Garfinkel's in Lionshead as the day winds down. They socialize and soak up the sunshine with the bright blue sky above.

Because Vail is world renowned for its skiing and snowboarding, you can bet it also has some of the coolest après-ski spots. In fact, you’ll probably come across your new favorite place by roaming around the villages. We’re going to list a bunch for you regardless.

For Happy Hour

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 and house cocktails are all 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: Lionhead is home to Bart & Yeti’s, a lively pub that lures locals as well as visitors with its rustic feel and outdoor deck. Oh yeah, and the kickin’ cocktails don’t hurt either — 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 beer.

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.

For the Best Vail Hot Chocolate

The Remedy Bar: Located in Vail’s Four Seasons ski resort, The Remedy Bar is the ultimate remedy for a cocoa craving. Billed as “The Famous Haut Chocolat,” this decadent drink features house-made marshmallow, chocolate tuile and Chantilly crème. Sigh. It’s so good (and so addictive), they even give you a special price if you buy two.

Rimini Gelato & Chocolate: Here’s another shop that serves up hot chocolate so good it’ll make you swoon. This gelato and ice cream shop cooks up hot chocolate so rich, thick, creamy and dreamy that you’ll think you died and went to cocoa heaven.

Find more Vail dessert spots.

For the Tastiest Snacks

Slope Room: Located in Vail’s Gravity Haus boutique hotel, the Slope Room is known for its delicious 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 all that stuff is to know it 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 sophisticated tavern serves up some hearty après treats and artisanal crafted adult concoctions with names like “The Double Deuce” and “Seven Wives.”

Sweet Basil: Belly up to the sleek bar at this MICHELIN-recommended establishment and ask for the Wagyu steak tartare and smoked short-rib croquettes. Wash them down with a “Gunwhale” cocktail made with Gray Whale Gin. Trust us, you’ll want to cut your ski day short for après at Sweet Basil.

For Authentic Bavarian Flavors in Vail

Pepi’s: Located in the beloved 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 the most popular menu option. Learn about Vail history.

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 delicacies. The goal of the German-born owners was to bring a touch of romantic charm and European culture to Vail.

Treff Café: You’ll find the Treff Café nestled in the Sonnenalp Hotel, offering a quaint and casual meeting place with authentic German offerings. You’re also sure to dig the creative cocktails, intriguing wine list and Euro-style bar vibe.

Gorsuch Ski Café: What started as a place for ski and snowboard apparel, equipment and rentals morphed into a most charming cafe 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.

Explore more Bavarian flavors in Vail.

For the Après Chic

Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails: Delight in the elevated cuisine at Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails. Its dishes are so pleasing to the eye it’s tough to tell if they’re food or if they’re art. Actually, they’re both!

The Gambit Bar: 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 and fine wines.

Fireside Lounge: The cozy lounge is 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 it 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.

For the Best Vail View

The 10th: The 10th is tucked at the top of Gondola One, which is where you’ll find Vail’s most breathtaking views. Capture some pics for the ‘gram, then order from a menu boasting delicacies like the guinea-hen pot pie.

Los Amigos: Visitors flock to this slopeside hangout for its spicy snacking options and killer margaritas. Located in Vail Village, this spot gives you front-row seats to watch skiers and snowboarders slide down “Pepi’s Face.” This steep, short pitch at the base of the mountain serves up plenty of epic “yard sales,” or crashes where skis and poles go flying.

The Fitz: Found in Manor Vail at the base of Golden Peak, The Fitz serves up modern Colorado flavors with unmatched peak-strewn views. Golden Peak is one of Vail’s portals, and the restaurant’s scenic patio is a prime location for mountain gazing.

Après & Live Music in Vail

What makes après in Vail even better? Live music, of course! Check out our lineup of live music on the Discover Vail calendar. Find more ideas for live music with our list of popular Vail bars.

The 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.

Shakedown Bar: This funky club features jammy live music, rock-inspired artwork and showy lighting. This will be your go-to if you’re looking for a high-energy après vibe you can dance to.

Vail’s Après-Ski Bottom Line

A close-up photo of ski goggles reflecting a wide landscape of craggy snowcapped mountains under a blue sky. Behind the goggles are three bottles of Champagne in a large metallic bowl of ice. Behind the bowl is a fence in front of more craggy mountains.

With so many après-ski scene options ready for action, you’d be hard-pressed not to find the perfect Vail destination that suits your mood. Try a new après-ski restaurant or bar every day of your trip, mixing and matching activities until you’ve tried them all.

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 in Vail again next year!

Find More Vail Après-Ski Inspiration: