No matter how good the snow or blue the sky, there’s nothing better than a cold beer or cocktail at the base of a mountain. Not all ski bars are created equal, however. Some mix in a perfect balance of atmosphere, entertainment and bar service better than the rest. It’s almost enough to make you forget your ski boots are still on. Here are three of the best...
The Mangy Moose attracts national acts to Teton Village nearly every weekend. Photo Courtesy of Mangy Moose Saloon.
Teton Village, Wyo.
Located a quick ski or walk from the Tram, this Teton Village classic has been the place to tell your tales of skiing Corbet’s Couloir (or build courage to try it the next day) since the late ‘60s. It’s an institution and might just be the best damn après ski bar in the U.S. There is just an insane jovial spirit throughout the massive, two-story bar. Perhaps it’s the cheap beers, spicy margs, attractive staff or the woody warmth of the mammoth logs that make it so special. Or, maybe skiers and riders are just so happy to have survived another day at rugged Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Major live music acts swing through on weekend nights too—but you’ll have to change out of your ski clothes to stay.
While this seems like a new restaurant to many, locals know it by a different name (and location). This is the reinvigorated Fat Alley, a southern heaven for cheap PBRs and bourbon shots, and classic dishes such as fried okra and the best pulled pork in the valley. The new location is at the base of Chair 8 and the gondola, making it the first stop for those who skis down to the Telluride side of the mountain—which is just about every local and those in the know.
The Snorting Elk has a loyal legion of locals that don't require table service. Photo Courtesy of Snorting Elk Cellar.
Crystal Mountain, Wash.
There are two ways to experience the perfectly rustic Snorting Elk Cellar: sitting or standing. The former requires an early exit from the mountain, say 2:30 p.m.—perfect for those who catch first chair and have burned out their quads shortly after lunch. This Bavarian-style bar is the best place to grab a tasty beer (Snorting Elk has a small, but very local selection), and you’ll have to actually retrieve your microbrew at the bar since there is no waitress service. There’s a solid wine list too, and seats next to the large fireplace that screams vintage ski bar. Most weekends feature live music in the evening, too. Food is available from a deli around the corner.
Jacob Harkins is a recovering ski bum and editor of Local Winos Magazine.