Where Is the World’s Best Après-Ski Scene?
We’ve indulged in après scenes in Europe, South America and North America. Where do you think the best après-ski scene is?
Editors’ Note: We asked outdoor sports writer Larry Olmsted to share his favourite après-ski scenes from around the world, but we just couldn’t resist adding in our own selections. There’s nothing hotter amid the cold mountain slopes than the après ski scene in our favourite winter sport destinations—Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Whistler, British Columbia; and Vail, Colorado. We don’t need to say much about Vail because Olmsted covers that destination in his own selections. But we’re going to evoke editorial privilege to throw in our two cents’ worth about Jackson Hole and Whistler.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, which is renowned for big-mountain skiing, also has a big-time après scene to match, with several of the nation’s most famous post-slope haunts, including the Mangy Moose Restaurant & Saloon in Teton Village, just steps from the lifts and Four Seasons. In Jackson Hole itself are the Silver Dollar Bar & Grill; the bar is inlaid with 2,032 namesake 1921 coins, and the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar with saddles for bar stools. Hungry? To rub elbows with locals, head to Billy’s Giant Hamburgers.
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler, which hosted the 2010 Olympics earlier this year, is best known for an après-ski scene that has an unparalleled array of cuisine, topped by the Bearfoot Bistro, which starts après time as a champagne bar before segueing into one of the best meals in Canada. Garibaldi’s Lift Co. Bar & Grill at the Village Gondola is constantly rated one of the world’s top après bars, while Irish (Dubh Linn Gate), European (Amsterdam Cafe Pub), hockey (Tapley’s) and homemade (BrewHouse at Whistler) pubs round out the scene.
Well, that’s all from the editors. What follows is Olmsted’s original article.
Olmsted’s Top Three for Après-Ski
For many skiers on vacation, the last run of the day is not an end but a beginning. Après-ski scenes range from Old West cowboy chic to modernistic urban-inspired martini bars. Whatever your passion, when the clock turns to après time you can indulge it at some ski resort, but these are three of my favourites. What’s yours?
With four distinct slope-side villages at North America’s largest single mountain resort, there truly is something for everyone. Some locals like to spend the final hour of the ski day on the patio of Los Amigos, at the base of the Vista Bahn Express in Vail Village. The drink of choice is the margarita, but the main attraction is the view of Pepi’s Face, a short black diamond run at the bottom of the mountain that has a shocking number of crashes. More dignified post-skiing pursuits include skating on one of Vail’s two outdoor rinks in Vail Village or Lionshead; enjoying the long list of wines by the glass and antipasti at La Bottega, a traditional enoteca; twilight lift-served tubing at the mountaintop Adventure Ridge complex; or catching a current release at Vail’s new gourmet movie complex, CinéBistro, which serves buckets of fried calamari and cocktails.
The most picture-perfect alpine village in all the Alps, Zermatt remains special by taking steps like banning cars from its main street—and the village basks in the shadow of the Matterhorn. The most uniquely Swiss way to start the après-ski scene is with raclette, fondue’s less-well-known sister dish, where the cheese goes on the bread, meat and potatoes rather than other way around. The sophisticated set then heads for cocktails with live music at clubs such as the Pink Elephant Jazz and Piano Bar, while the more energetic might end up at a hybrid disco-bar like Moby Dick’s Dancing Pub. Shopping is a beloved après-ski pastime with upscale shops laid out along the main street, the Bahnhofstrasse. Be sure to check out shops like Bayard Sports & Fashion where you can purchase fine ski and outdoor clothing so that you can look fabulous at tomorrow’s après-ski scene, when you do it all over again.
Arguably the world’s most perfect après-ski bar and restaurant is Tio Bob’s, which is the kind of place an affable uncle would build, if he was a bit odd. What makes Tio Bob’s an unusual après spot is that it is well up on the ski slopes, and guests still have to make one final descent afterward. Tio Bob’s serves a traditional gaucho parillada, or open-air barbecue with mouth-watering sausages, steaks and burgers, and plenty of cold beer. The sweeping views of Portillo’s high-altitude lake and the Aconcagua Valley are so incredible from the terrace that many skiers abandon the slopes by noon to grab a spot and never leave until the 3:00 pm closure, which is rarely enforced. The food, the melting pot of skiers, the beer and the setting conspire to make Tio Bob’s unforgettable—and perhaps skiing’s earliest après party.
These are just a few of the world’s best après-ski scenes. What’s your favourite?