Alright, guys, I’m back again. In this edition of the Liftopia blog, I’m going to be discussing some of my favorite, cheap ski town bars. Skiing/riding and drinking go hand in hand. They always have, and they always will. Some folks prefer martinis and cigars. Others have a taste for fine wine and local charcuterie and cheese plates! Then there’s those who want to sip champagne with cheesecake, after an expensive dinner of lobster and filet. Me? I’m all about $1 beers, sub-par whiskey and fried food, before drunkenly shooting pool or playing foosball with the locals.
So, here I take a peek into some of my favorite sleazy dives, where things like this are not only acceptable, but generally encouraged. Let’s party!
Clocktower Cellar – Mammoth Lakes, CA
This place was my local spot when I lived in Mammoth a few years back. The “Clock” is a smaller bar located in the basement of The Alpenhof Lodge. The Alpenhof is directly across the street from the village gondola. They’ve got a pool table in a little cave in the back of the bar (super rad), a foosball table, and a jukebox stocked with old school punk, classic rock and hip hop legends. With cheap pitchers and pints during happy hour and more than 150 whiskeys to choose from, The Clock lets you keep things fresh for the entire trip. This is where you’ll find most locals on nights where everywhere else in town is packed and smells like a ‘70s ski boot. The Clock also serves a delicious concoction called Totchos. Guess what Totchos are. Yup – you got it! Tater tot nachos. Other junk food options are available if you don’t have the guts to go for the holy grail.
Chair 5 (aka “The Dive”) – Girdwood, AK
Chair 5 Bar & Restaurant is a last frontier bar in the sleepy town of Girdwood, Alaska. Girdwood is located at the base of Alyeska Resort. Chair 5 boasts more than 30 single malts, 50 tequilas and 60 microbrews all at VERY reasonable prices. We’re talking ~5 bucks for a top shelf neat. Their menu is mostly pizza, burgers (caribou, elk or bison? Yes, please!) and salads (if you’re into that kind of thing), but they also have fresh Alaskan seafood. On warmer nights you can hang out on the patio and soak up views of the mountain. A DJ is usually playing records on weekend nights, so the bar can get a bit rowdy. All of the usual bar games are available and this is definitely a locals spot, so chill out, you meatheads.
Sidenote: The house rules include “No gunfights,” “No loose dogs on the property,” and “The road goes on forever and the party never ends.” How rad is that? Feel free to get that tattooed on you.
Shooting Star Saloon – Huntsville, UT
The oldest saloon in Utah, Shooting Star Saloon is located in the quiet town of Huntsville, minutes from Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. It’s a little old shack built out of brick and mortar, and when you walk in you’re hit with the smell of booze, leather and the Old West. $3 burgers, $1 drafts. Don’t expect anything from the staff besides a “What’ll it be?” or a “That’ll be five bucks” and a confirmation nod. It’s 21+, so leave your kids or babies at home. The wall of wisdom is pretty awesome, and it’ll definitely give you some insight into the vibe in this place. You can shoot pool and toss darts in the back. This old saloon has a strong locals vibe, so be very respectful. Sip a pint in the coolest bar in Utah, and take notice of Buck – the taxidermied head of a 250lb St. Bernard.
The Tourist Club – Truckee, CA
Taxidermy? Check. 50-cent beers and well drinks?! Check. Pool table? Check. You might bump into some cops who love to drink or perhaps a drifter passing through on their way east or west, but you will definitely be drinking with the locals. The bar smells like years of spilled booze, but if you throw some Dead Boys on the jukebox and order a shot of well whiskey, your inner punk will feel right at home, and within 30 minutes you’ll forget about how sore your day ‘o’ powder shredding made you, guaranteed. Take a cab or have a designated driver or hitchhike home because the cops in this town take drinking and driving very seriously. Also, don’t drink and drive anyway, you goon!
Mogul’s Saloon – Killington, VT
I love BBQ. I love cheap pints. I damn sure love Big Buck Hunter. Mogul’s has all three. The ribs come in two and a half pound buckets and the wings are spicy and have great flavor. PBR and Rolling Rock are three bucks in addition to pitcher specials. Mogul’s is a great place to mellow down with the buds after riding all day. They’ve also got a pool table, but when it’s crowded, expect a pile of “dibs” quarters and a wait. Divey and homey, this gets my vote for the Nor’East.
Well, that rounds out my favorite cheap mountain town bars. Tell me about your favorites in the comments section. I love checking out new spots when I’m on the road, and I love tales that involve skiers and snowboarders who may have had a killer adventure after slugging back a few dollar pints. And, as always, get rad!