There are things that go into making the perfect ski day: new snow, plenty of sunshine, friends to ride with (or not — you do you) and a lack of lift lines, to name a few. And while these individual elements can vary according to individual taste, there’s one thing that caps a perfect day on the slopes: après ski.
Translated from the French as “after ski,” après is the social activity immediately following a day on the mountain. This can take place on a sunny deck, in a posh slope-side bar, in a dive bar down the road or even at a sweet shop, if you’re so inclined (and you’re in the under-age crowd). There are many different ways to après, depending on where you are. For example, in some places, dancing on a table in your ski boots is acceptable. However, though the mechanics of après may vary, there are certain libations that are classic options. Ordering one of these will not only demonstrate that you are an après expert, but it’ll also make you smarter and better looking, too.*
*This statement has not been confirmed as fact.
Bloody Mary (aka Bloody Maria, aka Bloody Caesar)
Though this vegetable laden drink is best known for its popularity with the brunch crowd, the Bloody Mary is perfectly acceptable as an après drink because it has enough garnish on it to consider it a refueling source after skiing. If you started après at 10 a.m., then consider the Bloody Mary your morning veggie fix. This beverage/meal is a popular option with the ski bum crowd due to the extras piled on the top of the glass. Plus, it’s super versatile: Sub tequila for vodka and you have a Bloody Maria. Are you après-ing in Canada? Order a Bloody Caesar and be forewarned that they use Clamato instead of tomato juice. Oh Canada indeed!
Ah, the ubiquitous shot. There’s something about striding up to a bar and confidently ordering a round of shots for all of your new-found friends after a day on the slopes. Cheers ensue and you’re the hero of the hour. Of course, the type of shot that you order can make or break a situation. Do you go for something classic, like Fireball or classy like Tuaca? Do you fancy yourself a European and signal for schnapps? Or do you order something that harkens back to earlier days, like Lemon Drops? You have to read the situation yourself, but it’s almost certain that you’ll have no problem finding folks to partake.
Après Upgrade: If you’ve decided to go the shots route, be sure to inquire as to the availability of a shot ski for your crew. This ingenious device allows you and several friends to attempt to take the shots at the exact same time, while providing entertainment for everyone else in the bar while you try. If you’re the shortest person, you’ll probably end up wearing more than you actually drink.
Sometimes, you just want a little something to warm you up from the inside out. If you need a cozy pick-me-up, then consider a winter warmer. These drinks come in various strengths and flavors, from the classic Irish coffee (which is made with whiskey, not Bailey’s) to mulled wine drinks like German Glühwein. If your après crowd contains teetotalers or those under the legal drinking age, hot chocolate is pretty much de rigueur at most resorts and will deliver a delightful dose of sugar as a perfect pick-me-up.
Is it a bit snotty to sip Champagne during après? It might be, but who cares? Sipping bubbles is an excellent way to end the day — heck, some resorts (cough, Aspen, cough) even have pop up bars for the fancy stuff. So practice calling everyone dahling and enjoy “tasting the stars.”
On the other end of the snootiness spectrum, you have beer. Yes, beer is perhaps one of the most popular choices for après imbibing. However, this can be a far slippery slope, choice-wise, than you think. The past decade has seen a proliferation of craft breweries across the country and mountain towns are no exception. If you roll into a bar, don’t recognize anything on the menu and ask for “the closest thing you have to Bud Light,” you might as well pack up your car and head for home, my friend. As they say, when in Rome… Peruse the tap handles and make friends with the bartender to find that perfect, native beer to sooth your soul after skiing. You’ll get a taste of the local culture and perhaps learn something in the process.**
**As with everything, there are exceptions. If you’re with a crew that thinks that avant (French for “before”) is just as important as après, then downing a CL smoothie (Coors Light) is perfectly reasonable. Is there a special 2 for $2 deal on PBR that is singing a siren’s song to your wallet? Then by all means, quaff that tall boy and enjoy.
Some say the best part of skiing is après skiing, and who are we to argue? Grab a beer or a champagne flute, hoist that shot ski and get ready to toast another fabulous day on the mountain. Because a day on the snow is better than a day at work.
Editors Note: Please drink responsibly.