If you are an avid mountain goer, whether you are a skier or snowboarder, it’s hard to argue that a day of riding is not complete without après ski.
Traditionally in the U.S., the après ski drink of choice has been craft beer. Beers are refreshing, quick and easy to pour, and their lower abv means you can have a few without getting too banged up. But recent trends suggest that craft beer may have a bit of company creeping up on them in the form of craft cocktails.
“The basic reality is that après-ski bars weren’t always doing high-quality craft cocktails. Those bars were “beer and a shot” kind of places for so long, so there wasn’t much to offer to get excited about,” says Karen Hoskin, owner of Montanya Distillers in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Mixology is now on the rise across the country. So too are the amount of distilleries popping up in and around mountain towns. Drinking local is no longer limited to craft beer, and ski resort bartenders are capitalizing on this trend.
“We have seen a definite turn towards craft cocktails during Après, which we think is a reflection on the overall trend in the bar scene in metropolitan areas, which is where the majority of our customers are visiting from, says Giovanna Romano, head bartender at Stratton Mountain’s The Firetower Restaurant and Tavern. More and more of them are specializing in mixology and their craft cocktail creativity is through the roof.
“Our ideas are derived from our travels and experiences during the off season. We do our best to make drinks that someone will want to have when they come off the slopes, something that is refreshing, adventurous and not entirely spirit-forward, although we do have some of those too,” emphasizes Mike DiSabato, the other head bartender at The Firetower Restaurant and Tavern.
Craft cocktails featuring local spirits and ingredients are on the rise and are becoming a staple alongside craft beer. “Now that the national trend of exceptional craft cocktails has found its way to ski towns and base areas, there are more delicious options. Who wouldn’t choose them? A well-made hot buttered rum tastes incredible after a long, chilly day on the slopes. It warms you in a way a beer never will,” says Hoskin.
Creativity like this is limitless and ski resort bars are offering more and more cocktail options as a worthy alternative to craft beer. So worthy that you need to give them a try, especially these amazingly tasty and imaginative options from around the U.S. and Canada.
Deer Valley Resort
Drink Name: Mountaineer
Where: The Brass Tag
Description: The Mountaineer is made with Alpine Distillery Traveler’s Rest whiskey, house smoked maple syrup and a few dashes of Scrappy’s Orleans bitters and garnished with a cinnamon stick. Blend together seamlessly this melange of smoky sweet flavors with a hint of spice that has become a local favorite.
Stowe Mountain Resort
Drink name: The Golden Pig
Where: The Lodge at Spruce Peak’s WhistlePig Pavilion
Description: The Golden Pig marries the sweet and spicy tones of fall by highlighting the autumn warmth of cinnamon with the crisp apple and sweet Vermont maple. To get the full fall flavor, the Golden Pig combines WhistlePig PiggyBack rye, cold apple cider, fresh lemon juice barrel-aged maple syrup, Topped with hard cider. To top it off, there’s a garnish of a cinnamon-dusted apple wheel.
Drink name: Maple Cream White Russian
Where: Goosefeathers Pub
Sunapee recently constructed a new bar in its base lodge using reclaimed wide-board pine that was saved from the old North Peak Lodge that was down in the 1960s. In tribute to the historical significance of the bar, inspiration for the resort’s signature cocktails were found in traditional, local ingredients.
Description: The Maple Cream White Russian is a decadent combination of local maple syrup, cream, vodka and coffee liqueur. Sweet and delicious, your taste buds will dance upon first sip.
Drink Name: Hot Wine
Where: Au Grain de Café
Description: Red wine warmed with orange, sugar, cinnamon, clove, raisins, ginger, nutmeg create a delicious après ski cocktail that will warm your soul on a cold Quebec winter day. Sugar, cinnamon, orange and raisins give it a sweet taste, while the clove, ginger and nutmeg spice it just enough to delight your taste buds.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Drink Name: Hottanya
Where: Montanya Distillers
Description: Montanya’s version of a Hot Buttered Rum is to die for. Fill your mug with hot water, rum, and their own Hottanya mix. Then top it off with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg for a taste explosion that will warm you up from the inside out.
Stratton Mountain Resort
Drink Name: Yucatan Smoke
Where: The Firetower Restaurant and Tavern
Description: A taste of the Yucatan with a touch of smoke is the result of this delightful concoction. Mezcal, blood orange, lime juice, agave, and yellow chartreuse are combined and served in a tagine spiced rimmed glass for what many Firetower fans describe as a smokey blood orange margarita.
Lake Tahoe Region
Drink Name: Chai Hot Toddy
Where: The Arch Society, Reno Tahoe
Description: While relaxing après ski at Reno Tahoe’s one and only dessert bar, try the Chai Hot Toddy. Made with Frey Ranch bourbon, chai tea, oat milk, whipped cream and nutmeg, it’s the perfect way to warm up and let loose after an exciting day on the slopes. Stop by during happy hour and you can enjoy a free dessert such as molten lava cake or raspberry cheesecake mousse along with a cocktail for a double dose of decadence.
Snowbasin, Powder Mountain & Nordic Valley
Drink Name: Compass Rose
Where: New World Distillery, Eden, Utah
Description: This signature cocktail by New World Distillery’s Brand Ambassador and House Mixologist, Elyse Evans, features their Rabbit and Grass blanco agave spirits, fermented from organic blue agave as well as New World’s Wasatch Blossom tart cherry liqueur. The agave spirits are fruit forward and naturally sweet with no additives and the Wasatch Blossom is a 64-proof liqueur made from locally-sourced Montmorency tart cherries. With a splash of lime and a splash of grapefruit, it is a refreshing, sweet-and-tart riff on a margarita.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Drink Name: Bloody Mary
Where: 6th Alley Bar and Grill in the base area or the Black Mountain Lodge at mid-mountain.
Description: A-basin’s award-winning Bloody Mary is incredible. The secret is in their proprietary blend of spice which they recommend trying with bacon. And by bacon, they mean bacon-infused vodka and a stick of fresh bacon. Pair this delicious bloody with their duck quesadillas or their nachos and you’ll be in après ski cocktail heaven.