Aprés Ski Guide: Colorado

Written by Alexa Owen • Aug 22, 2016

The alpine ski villages of Europe may have "invented" aprés, but Colorado puts its own colorful twist on this culturally rich pastime.

In the early twentieth century, after a group of friends spent their day cruising the slopes of the Alps, they'd huddle together for a stiff drink and some good laughs to wind down. It was the natural thing to do, of course: but little did they know that over a century later, aprés ski would be as much a part of worldwide mountain culture as gondolas and shaped skis. In North America, Colorado ski resorts offer the best of what aprés has to offer: craft beer, delectable eats, and an old west flair completely its own. Read on for our short guide of aprés ski in Colorado.

The Red Lion, Vail

Keeping it cool since 1963, The Red Lion sets the bar for the après scene on Bridge Street in Vail Village. Serving up huge nacho plates, hearty sandwiches, and classic pub fare, it’s the place to kick back after a leg burning day on the slopes. Packed on weekend evenings, the bar gets noisy and crowded with fun loving locals. Live music acts play regularly, and the spacious deck fills up on sunny afternoons. No need to primp at the hotel before showing up – ski boots are welcome until 9 p.m.

When You Go:

Get There

From Mid Vail, cruise down Riva Ridge to the base of Gondola One, then walk east on Mill Creek Road; go left at the roundabout onto Bridge Street – look for the red awnings (and buzzing crowd) soon after on the right.

Drink

Bartenders craft superb margaritas with a house-made margarita mix: choose from a number of top shelf tequilas. There’s a good selection of Colorado microbrews, including the classic Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues in Lyons. Our favorite special drink is the Bulliet Rye Mule – Bulliet Rye Whiskey, Gosling’s ginger beer with fresh lime juice.

Eat

Burgers, burritos, hearty soups and salads fill the menu. Favorite après eats include the smoked chicken quesadillas and the “world famous” nachos: topped with pork carnitas, jalepenos, jack cheese, and the works.

Live Music

Local musicians play most Thursday – Saturday nights in winter, starting after 7 pm. Co-owner Phil Long rocks the first set of the evening from 4-6.

Specials

Happy hour deals change; expect rotating specials like $4 well and wine drinks, and $3 beers in the low season.

Ski-in?

No

Outdoor seating?

Yes

Don’t Miss

People watching from the patio on one of those quintessential Colorado sunny afternoons is a must – you’ll truly see all walks of the Vail scene.

39 Degrees, Aspen

We can hardly say 39 Degrees is “nestled” inside the Sky Hotel: this swanky lounge, complete with hot tub, heated pool, and DJ dropping hot beats boasts expansive space to kick back in true Aspen style. It’s the hip place to see and be seen in Aspen. Big, comfy couches circle around the central indoor fireplace, and plenty of indoor and outdoor high top seating is available for sharing drinks and snacks with large groups. Even if clinking glasses with the glitzy and glamorous isn’t really your scene, don your boots with the fur and drop in for a drink – it’s worth the experience.

When You Go:

Get There

Cruise down to the base of the Silver Queen Gondola and look to the right: 39 Degrees is located slopeside inside the Sky Hotel.

Drink

The mixologists at the bar shake up crafty cocktails – specials rotate daily. Enjoy Belvedere bottle service on Sundays, and a glass of chilled Veuve Clicquot any day of the week. Colorado beers are on draft, and the wine list includes usual suspects.

Eat

Chef Shawn Lawrence serves up bar bites like crispy umami tofu, Asian cheesy fries and blistered shishito peppers. For something heartier, try the EBI Wrap: tempura shrimp, cabbage slaw, and avocado with spicy mayo in a moo shu wrapper.

Live Music

DJs spin daily (and late into the nights).

Specials

Monday – Friday happy hour includes $4 draft beers and $8 Belvedere mixed drinks. Daily specials, like Sunday’s “pool party” and Wednesday’s “draft day” feature themed drink specials.

Ski-in?

Yes

Outdoor seating?

Yes

Don’t Miss

The Asian style tuna tacos are out of this world – get them for $4 each on Taco Tuesdays.

The Dusty Boot, Beaver Creek

The Dusty Boot is a Beaver Creek mainstay. Open since 1980, they specialize in big steaks, cold beer, and a refreshingly casual atmosphere for swanky Beaver Creek. Prices are reasonable, portions are generous, and drinks are strong. The inside area can get crowded during late afternoon, but plan on a little patience and it won’t hinder your experience. Like most Beaver Creek village establishments, this one is also family friendly. Take the kids. Have a blast.

When You Go:

Get There

On the northern end of the base village, it’s hard to miss the ‘Boot: the official address is 210 Offerson Road – you’ll see a large sign above the children’s fountain at the base of the St James condominiums.

Drink

Nearly twenty craft beers are on tap, some of which rotate seasonally. Support local business by ordering off the Colorado spirits menu, which includes creative choices like Leopold blackberry whiskey. We love that all Moscow mules are served traditionally in a copper cup; try the Perfect Storm mule for something different.

Eat

Indulge in hearty après fare, like parmesan truffle fries and pretzel bits with a 4-cheese fondue. The build-your-own burger menu is good for bigger appetites. Count on classic pub grub with no food fad frills (vegetarians, no worries – you have options).

Live Music

Most restaurants and bars in Beaver Creek are located within hotel establishments, which do have noise ordinances – so no live music at the ‘Boot. When we checked in with staff, they assured us that there is still “plenty of fun” to be had during après hour.

Specials

Score happy hour deals 3pm-5pm all week.

Ski-in?

No.

Outdoor seating?

Yes.

Don’t Miss

If Beaver Creek feels stuffy, definitely stop by the Dusty Boot; staff are sincerely friendly, and the space is comfortably casual.

Alpino Vino, Telluride

Alpino Vino, Telluride

This European style hütte at 11,966 feet offers guests the complete après ski experience inspired by the tradition of the Alps. A cozy inside area with fireplace and seating for 28 creates a quiet space for a hot drink on a cold day; the outdoor deck overlooks the expansive Wilson Range. Décor is detailed down to the last piece of repurposed wine barrel. As with most places in Telluride, the ambiance is elegant, and the menu pricey: Lounge at Alpino Vino for the luxury experience.

When You Go:

Get There

Go left when unloading the Gold Hill Express (Lift 14). Ski a short way down See Forever; Alpino Vino is on your left.

Drink

Guests love the outdoor wine bar, which boasts a solid selection of fine Italian and French wines. Bottled craft beers are also available, as is a full menu of cocktails.

Eat

For après, enjoy a small and elegant menu of cured meats, delicate cheeses, small salads and warming soups. Alpino Vino delivers when it comes to European standard cuisine; if you’re interested in dinner, book a reservation and enjoy the snowcat ride from Mountain Village to a gourmet five-course meal.

Live Music

The restaurant doesn’t feature live music, but there’s always mellow jazz playing in the background; it certainly contributes to the ambiance.

Specials

Soups of the day rotate; there is no official happy hour “deal.”

Ski-in?

Yes.

Outdoor seating?

Yes.

Don’t Miss

Lounging on the deck’s daybed, complete with plush pillows and sheepskin throws.

Slopeside Grill, Steamboat

Skip spring break in Cabo and celebrate Steamboat style at the Slopeside Grill. On any given day throughout the winter, you can swing by the base of the Peak 8 lift and see upwards of 100 skiers hanging out at the super casual seating sprawled out across the snow outside the Slopeside Grill. Locals affectionately refer to the area as “the beach,” and if you happen to catch it in March and April when the springtime sun is out and a live band is playing classic rock until dark, even better.

When You Go:

Get There

Just follow the music (and the crowd). Slopeside Grill is located centrally at 1885 Ski Time Square the base of the resort, between the Christie Peak Express and Christie III.

Drink

Local drafts include Odell’s loose leaf session, Avery’s white rascal, and Butcherknife’s hefewiezen, among others. On a cold day, order from the “winter warmers” menu, which boasts tasty cocktails like a Hot Apple Pie (Tuaca and apple cider) and a B52 (Grand Marnier, Irish cream, and coffee liquer).

Eat

Grub here is American with Mexican flair. Expect the usual après options like nachos heaped with chilies and cheese. The heartier options include sandwiches and burgers with gluten free bread options. For something lighter, stick with the classic ceasar salad or roasted beet hummus.

Live Music

Afternoons in March and April you’ll hear local bands rocking out during happy hour.

Specials

Appetizer and drink specials are from 3-6pm. 10pm-midnight cash in on $3 pints and $8 pizzas.

Ski-in?

Yes.

Outdoor seating?

Yes.

Don’t Miss

Order your drinks from the outdoor ice bar, just because it’s cool.