Like many a New England state, Maine does winter just as well as they do summer. Lobster rolls and clam bakes in the warmer months give way to snow-centered activities and après parties in the colder ones. From Sunday River and Sugarloaf, to Saddleback and Mt. Abram, there are plenty of mountains, hotels, (and post-run cocktail options) for everyone. Here are the best après ski spots in Maine.
Foggy Google, Sunday River
You just don’t go to Sunday River without making at stop at the New England—and world—famous Foggy Goggle, or “the Goggle” as they call it. Loyalists have been après'ing here for years, which is why it’s consistently a repeat winner for “Best Après” in the annual “Best of Bethel” poll, and that’s due to the live music series on weekends, full bar and thirst-quenching libations, and huge outside deck facing the sun and the slopes. It’s also located in the resort's largest base lodge, the South Ridge Lodge, so it tends to get packed. Go for lunch and the awesome bands, or at night, after some moonlight shredding. If you’re trying to do an après crawl in the area, be sure to hit Matterhorn Ski Bar (which has one of the largest mug club memberships in the area) and Suds Pub in nearby Bethel (which has the most brews on tap). Bonus: A free area shuttle called The Mountain Explorer stops at each of these must-visit destinations.
Swig 'n Smelt, Saddleback
When you want an old-school ski resort, look no further than Saddleback. Nestled in Sandy River Plantation, near Rangeley, this non-assuming and somewhat hidden gem has crazy views and big mountain trails with a double-black diamond to get your heart racing. They also have Swig ’n Melt, upstairs at the lodge, which sounds like your average pub, and it is. Chili, reubens, poutine, clam chowder, and wings are winners here, but don’t overlook the duck fat fries with truffle ketchup. You can also expect (and most likely request) tons of ‘80s music and shot-skis. Or swing by The Loon Lodge, a log cabin seven miles from the mountain which dates back to 1909, for a toasty beverage by the fireside.
The party at The Rack goes all day and all night so be sure to have your drinking (snow) pants on when you arrive. Known as Sugarloaf’s living room, you’re instantly greeted by old skis and gondolas covered in stickers and other mountain-proud signage upon stepping foot inside. There are also throngs of rowdy, albeit friendly, locals (and tourists) and installations fashioned out of bottle caps and recycled items, created by the restaurant’s very own dishwasher, James Sturzenberger. The prize of the lot would have to be the one of Jack Nicholson from The Shining, however. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Oh wait it does—PBRs are only $2.50 during après hours to wash down the Rack's epic BBQ platters of ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and smoke-house chicken smothered in homemade sauces like the Ski Bum, made with Maine’s own Mother’s Mountain Mustard, honey and spices. Also worth a visit in the area: The Bag and Kettle, Gepetto’s, and The Widowmaker Lounge and the Beach.
Located just five miles from Bethel, with terrain suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboards, Mt. Abram is the kind of mountain that’s laid-back, welcoming, and perfect for families and friends alike. Don't miss Loose Boots Lounge, stationed in the Main Lodge, come après time. Wine tastings, classic comfort food (along the lines of pizza, burgers, and one killer brie dip), great hops, a rustic vibe, and live tunes are standard, as is a happy crowd and a come-one-come-all mentality—which allows everyone to enter exactly how they left the mountain, even with their boots on.
Standard Gastropub, a quirky, you guessed it—gastropub—in a renovated former gas station is tops for the après life in Shawnee. Turquoise picnic tables are key for your post-slope ‘grams, craft beers from around the world are prime for drinking, and effortless eats are ready for consuming. Or, For the ultimate ski-in, ski-out option on the mountain, check out Blizzard’s Pub. Ideal for late morning snacks, afternoon pints, and all the time slots in between, Blizzard’s is where you meet up and order ski-dom staples like nachos and bloody marys, while telling fresh powder tales.