On the East Coast, ski conditions can be fickle. Big powder days often end with rain, frigid temperatures result in icy lines and runs are tracked out by 10 a.m. And while we can’t control the weather, there is something that the East truly excels in: aprés ski.
Whether your day was filled with thigh-deep powder or survival skiing on bulletproof ice is irrelevant once you get to the bar.
“In the bar, everyone skied a good line,” says Brett Newton, who has been bartending at Zip’s Pub at Cranmore for six years. “Good day or bad day, it doesn’t matter. In the bar, it’s always a good day.”
The term aprés ski, literally, “after-skiing” in French, originated in the late 19th century in Norway and eventually made its way to the French Alps during the mid-20th century. Skiers often would stop to have a drink after their last run before even changing out of their ski gear, and this eventually influenced a culture that spread to ski resorts around the globe.
Today, aprés ski is almost as important — or for some, more important — than the skiing itself. Regardless of how high on your priority list your aprés-ski experience is, here are a few tips to get the most out of it this season.
Determine where the aprés-ski party is happening | Aprés ski can have a different meaning to some than others. For some, an aprés-ski bar is usually on hill (or close to the hill), and most people show up immediately after their last run, ski gear still on. For others, aprés ski encompasses any bar, club or party they go to after a day of skiing, even if it’s not until later at night.
“At a true ski bar, people are wearing their gear,” says Matt Burkett, a Zip’s Pub bartender of 10 years. “You know everyone just went skiing — it’s not after work. They’re there to refresh themselves.”
Newton agrees. “Not everyone at a ski bar had the exact same day, but they all have something in common,” he adds.
Regardless of what you classify as a true “ski bar” and aprés-ski scene, it’s important to figure out where you want to be when the lifts shut off for the day. Many bars around ski resorts often host live music on weekends, which can be found on a specific resort’s events calendar. Once there, there is usually another bar nearby where the party will continue well into the night. This might require a bit more investigative research — or you can just ask around at the first bar you stop at.
Treat your bartenders with respect | We get it — you had a great day on the hill, you nailed the hidden cliff drop you found in the woods, and your overall psyche level is high. But not only are the bartenders the ones pouring your drinks, they’re also managing a crowd of people who are just as psyched as you, so it’s important to treat them with respect.
“Don’t yell our name or wave,” says Burkett. “And don’t stand in line for five minutes asking what we have or figuring out what you want.”
Basically, be courteous. Especially if the bar is busy, be mindful of what you’re ordering, how much of their (valuable) time you’re taking up, and if you’re making others who are just as thirsty as you wait.
Drink water! | When it’s cold out, it is usually harder to remember to drink water than it is on a hot summer day. But when your entire day is spent doing a physical activity like skiing, the air temperature doesn’t matter — you still need to hydrate. This is especially true if you want to make it past dinner time with everyone else during aprés ski. And, according to Burkett, “Trulys (Hard Seltzer) don’t count as water.”
Take off your boots | Ski boots are slippery, especially when walking on tile or hardwood floors. Before hitting the bar, switch into a pair of comfortable shoes. Don’t be the guy who slips and falls while attempting to carry three beers to your friends on the other side of the hardwood dance floor in ski boots. Of course this doesn’t mean you have to change your entire wardrobe — chances are everyone else will still have their ski pants and gear on. But proper footwear will allow you to save your falling and embarrassment for the slopes.
Don’t broadcast local knowledge | Everyone has their secret stash at their local hill — regardless of the size. Ski bars often are filled with stoked locals telling stories about their day, their secret spot or that huge gap they cleared before their friends showed up. And if you’re visiting a new mountain and are lucky enough to find out about one of these secret spots, don’t broadcast it to the world. Of course we all want to enjoy the same things, but let everyone else figure it out for themselves.
Find your stash spot | Let’s not kid ourselves here — we all love having a beer break after a few runs, sometimes even on the chairlift. But not everyone has the time (or money) to stop in the lodge every time they want to refresh themselves.
Enter the secret stash spot. You could leave your beers (or beverages of choice) in the car, or you could take a few up on the hill with you and find a little corner somewhere to hide them. Now, you can conveniently swing through for a quick refresh on the way down.
“Stash your beers somewhere with a good view, where young kids aren’t going,” recommends Burkett. “Everyone’s got that secret ledge somewhere.”
Of course, be responsible about it, be discreet and take all of your garbage with you. Otherwise, your aprés-ski experience will end before it even begins.