The locals know what you mean when you talk about “après,” the French word for “after.”
We’re talking about the best places to tip a glass and share a bite after a long day on the slopes.
Après-ski is as much a part of Colorado’s winter culture as the snow and skis. You can find fantastic deals after the slopes close, usually around 4 p.m. This weaves in seamlessly with happy hour. Every ski town has its après hot spots, some right on the mountain, others in downtown, some fancy next to a fireplace, others relaxed on a patio.
Some après celebrations also include dancing, live music and games. It’s standard to hit the bars and restaurants directly off the slopes, in full ski gear and all.
While we’d need a phone book to list all of the great places for after-ski drinks and snacks, here are a few of our favorite après ski spots in Colorado.
This is Vail Valley’s only cigar lounge, located inside the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch on the Beaver Creek mountain. Note: This stop isn’t just for bachelors; the name refers to the region.
The elegant (but far from stuffy) Bachelor’s Lounge features delicious cocktails, curated wines, fine spirits and, of course, cigars. Even rare, hard-to-find cigars, infused mini-cigars and totally exclusive cigars that you can’t get anywhere else.
Also score a hookah and specialty Vaportinis, or flavored vapor smokes with hints of chocolate, mint or apple. (All smokables are consumed outdoors, so you can enjoy the bar without the smoke if you don’t indulge.)
Try a wide selection of scotch, bourbon or drinks, like The Bachelor, made with bourbon, blood orange liqueur, lemon juice, rosemary simple syrup and bitters. The food here is also as great as you would expect from a high-end resort. Pair your whiskey with a charcuterie plate of Colorado-cured peats, pate and chutneym
The indoor-outdoor atmosphere with Western decor also makes the Bachelor’s Lounge stand out.
The Remedy Bar is not only one of our favorite après hangouts, but it’s one of the top bars in Colorado, across the board. First, the cocktails are phenomenal. Everything here, especially the drinks, are innovative and playful. (They actually call their cocktails “elixirs.”)
While the monstrous TV in the swanky bar is a hot spot during big games, we prefer to snag a seat on the oversized outdoor balcony overlooking the pool and with a direct view of the ski slopes. Even if you get a spot on the indoor bar, you can still enjoy the view through the floor-to-ceiling windows, but the best seat in the house is one around the outdoor fire pits.
After a cocktail and plenty of water (not to be a buzz kill but seriously, beware of alcohol at altitude), make sure you order one of the bar’s famous hot chocolates, which has been named one of the best in the nation. It’s rich enough to share with a friend of two. The Remedy Bar also has a scrumptious line-up of food to refuel you after your adventures.
This isn’t exactly a ski-out après deal, but it’s the best way to ski and celebrate if you’re not staying directly in a mountain town. If you want to experience the mountains but stay in Denver, the best bet is to book The Crawford Hotel’s Ski Train Package.
The Crawford is a quirky and delightful hotel located inside the historic and newly renovated Union Station, which is also home to several hip bars, shops, a bookstore and an active Amtrak train. Take the Denver Ski Train from Union Station (just steps from your hotel door, still inside the station) to Winter Park, ski the day away and then take the train back to Denver. The package comes with a stay at the hotel, ski storage, breakfast to go and two après cocktails and an appetizer at the Terminal Bar, also inside Union Station.
The Ski Train typically runs to Winter Park on weekends from January through March.
The Terminal Bar is an open air, casual bar with community-style seating. It’s guaranteed to be lively.
For a more sophisticated cocktail, head upstairs in Union Station to Cooper Lounge. Seating is limited here, but if you can get in, you’ll have sweeping views of the bustling station from above. It’s a lovely way to wrap up your day before returning to the Crawford for the night.
There’s no finer way to après than to ski right up to the restaurant. Gorrono Ranch in Telluride offers on-mountain dining during ski season. You’ll find it on the Misty Maiden Ski Run off chair four in Mountain Village.
This former sheep ranch is nothing fancy. The menu spans burgers, salads and casual food served cafeteria style, on picnic tables. Listen to live music on the deck and warm up next to the fire pit. Ski boots and hats are not only welcome, they’re standard.
This is another one of Colorado’s coolest on-mountain restaurants, located on Gondola One in Mid Vail with a view of Gore Range. The 10th is a bit more sophisticated than some of the other ski-in establishments. The fine dining here includes a solid wine list, champagne and some innovative desserts that will start you drooling, like a bacon ice cream sundae.
You can sit outside on the deck and still stay warm next to the fireplace or on The 10th's heated outdoor tables, with a direct view of the ski slopes.
Bonus: The 10th offers everything you need to spruce up after a hard day of skiing, including hair dryers, mouthwash and more in the restrooms.
The 10th is open both during ski season and in the summer during the weekends, but note: The après scene ends a bit earlier here, at 3:30 p.m., so you have time to get down the mountain before it closes. In the summer season, hike, bike, or ride into The 10th to enjoy lunch over peak weekends on the sunny patio or in the sophisticated bar and lounge.
The Little Nell is Colorado après. This hotel is basically the quintessential after-ski hang-out spot, located in Aspen right at the foot of the Silver Queen Gondola. It’s so popular that it’s nearly impossible to get a table without committing to a wait. At least the wait is entertaining because people-watching here is prime.
The place to be inside The Little Nell is Ajax Tavern. It’s a little bit glam, a little bit laid back, with a great patio that offers a clear view of the mountain. Ajax is easily the best location in town starting around lunchtime. The menu includes delicious splurges like burgers and truffle fries, and the atmosphere usually includes live music or a live DJ.
Also check out Chair 9, a lounge inside the hotel that also features live DJs starting just before the slopes close.
The New Sheridan’s Historic Bar in Telluride claims to be the town’s best and most lively bar.
Listen to live music, play pool or foosball and enjoy the history of this quirky place that dates back to 1895 when Telluride was a miner town. This is one of the oldest bars in the west, and much of the decor remains unchanged, from the dark wood to the lead glass dividers. It’s no surprise that a bar with this much personality is a local favorite.
You can find some great drink specials here, including $5 Jack Daniels every day, all the time.
In warmer weather, the New Sheridan opens up its rooftop bar with a 360-degree view.
This is one of our favorite distilleries in Colorado and a fun place to hang after skiing. It’s the highest-altitude distillery in the world, with lots of award-winning spirits. Take a free tour and see how the liquors are made and try some free samples, before heading out to the outdoor patio for some signature cocktails and lawn games. You might catch live music out there, too.
Although the Breckenridge Distillery isn’t located on the mountain or in downtown, it’s a short drive from the action and worth it. Don't want to drive yourself? Call the free shuttle to take you.
If you don’t want to venture too far out, you can always visit the tasting room on South Main Street, too. The distillery also has a restaurant that opens for dinner at 4 p.m., right when the slopes close. Score some adventurous bites here, like squid ink noodles, deviled eggs with caviar and carrot soup. We love that the family-style offerings, like a whole roasted chicken, perfect to split with your ski group or family.
For drinks at the restaurant, there are both signature and classic cocktails (using the local spirits, naturally), as well as tea, coffee and more. A must-dry signature drink: The True Porch Pounder. This blends spiced whiskey with mango shrub, banana and orange and is rimmed with "culinary pop rocks."
This is the truest form of a ski-up bar. You can almost ski straight up to the Slopeside Grill and then plop into a chair outside. They (a bit ironically) call the large outdoor area “the Beach.” Sure, there’s indoor seating, too, but it’s much more classic Colorado to find a plastic chair under the mountain sun and party with a beer (or a shot) and hundreds of other skiers. You’ll love Slopeside Grill’s outdoor bar, carved out of ice.
This bar is located right at the base of the mountain and offers beautiful mountain and ski slope views in a totally chill, party-like atmosphere. Of course, live music adds to the fun. No need to take off your ski boots.
Fill up on naughty pub food here, like pizza, beer and burgers. If you're sticking to healthy food, you can find salads here, too (try the kale salad).
If you don’t want to miss your favorite team, you can catch sports games on the TVs here. But for that, you’ll have to forfeit your spot on the snowy beach and head indoors. Granted, on extra cold days, that's a nice option to have.