By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
Some would say it’s the best time of day — pulling your boots off (or maybe you should keep those feet covered) and raising a glass after a great day of play.
It’s called apres here in the mountains, and it can be as much an adventure as the day you’ve had so far. Where are you going to spend it? Here’s some intel to help you dive right in.
“The apres scene in Vail is the time of day that gives friends and family the opportunity to catch up on their mountain experiences over comforting food and cold beverages. Apres is not necessarily about happy hour and discounted drinks, it is more about the social gathering scene at a fun bar, restaurant or outdoor patio. No ski vacation is ever complete without a little apres.”
Ken ButlerExecutive chef, The Fitz
Like those secret stashes on the mountain, Vail Valley locals always know where to go.
With all the great options around, these are the spots that will always offer you a bar stool, or at the very least, a shot and a beer.
Bart & Yeti’s in Lionshead Village is that pub you can’t stay away from, with daily food and drink specials to keep you topped up. Garfinkel’s is also in Lionshead Village and has an $8 burger special on Mondays, along with an awesome mountain-facing patio on sunny afternoons.
In Vail Village, Vendetta’s on Bridge Street has daily drink specials, and a $9.95 lunch special until 3 p.m. every day. Stop in for a slice of pizza and you’ll be sure to rub elbows with some ski patrollers. At The Fitz Bar & Restaurant in Manor Vail Lodge near Golden Peak, stop in with local ski instructors and ski school families for daily apres from 4 to 6 p.m. for discounted drafts, house wine and wells, along with a daily food special on the chalkboard. Or better yet, join the Mug Club.
“The apres scene in Vail is the time of day that gives friends and family the opportunity to catch up on their mountain experiences over comforting food and cold beverages,” said The Fitz executive chef Ken Butler. “Apres is not necessarily about happy hour and discounted drinks, it is more about the social gathering scene at a fun bar, restaurant or outdoor patio. No ski vacation is ever complete without a little apres.”
HEAR LIVE MUSIC
Music seems like a must after a great day on the hill, so stop by Pepi’s Bar for tunes from musicians such as Andy Cyphert and Brian Spotts, not to mention some great drinks, including true Austrian brews on tap. The Red Lion is a Vail apres-ski staple of course, with entertainment from talents such as Dave Tucker and Johnny Schleper.
SETTLE IN SLOPESIDE
Come off the slopes and into your seat at Larkspur, featuring an apres menu with delectable food offerings and drink specials, including $7 wine by the glass and fan-favorite drinks such as the Larkspur Lightning and Vail Ice Tea. Other classic cocktails are also discounted to $9 and select beers are $5. Apres at Larkspur is offered daily from 2:30 to 5 pm.
“While Larkspur Events & Dining is the perfect venue to enjoy our world-class cuisine and generous hospitality any time, apres is especially fun,” said Rafal Konka, managing director. “The open and airy bar lends itself to elevating the post-skiing buzz our guests bring, while the expansive patio is the perfect place to kick up your ski boots and take in the people watching.”
Looking for a little fiesta? Los Amigos in Vail Village and El Sabor in Lionshead Village are both perfect for watching the base area while getting that margarita fix. At El Sabor, a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., along with additional daily specials, will get you ready to roll, or take a siesta.
We’ll just slide in Root & Flower right here, not only because this quaint little spot has the best wine-by-the-glass list in town, but also because it’s just as hip as it is classy. Try their oysters, and it’s valuable to know that executive chef Matt Limbaugh’s meatballs are always the talk of the town.
“Apres is great at Root & Flower because we have delicious, higher end and shareable food to really treat yourself after a big day on the mountain — including oysters,” said co-owner Sam Biszantz. “My go-to drink for apres would be a shot of Genepy, an alpine liqueur that is a traditional drink for after skiing in the Alps, and whatever lager we have on tap. Why wait ’til dinner to enjoy all the fine food and drink in Vail?”
For your daily “remedy,” The Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons Resort in Vail has special offerings such as a $12 burger on Thursdays and a $7 glass of prosecco on Fridays. And for that afternoon fancy fix, Terra Bistro has a well-known happy hour that runs from 5 to 6 p.m. every day with deals on small plates and drinks. There are tasty options for those with dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and vegan dishes.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Take off your skis and walk down Bridge Street to Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails, a new restaurant with a lot to offer. Classic and delicious is what you’ll find on the menu here, with items such as the Maine Lobster Roll BLT with sweet chunks of Maine lobster, lemon mayonnaise and cherry wood bacon.
BEAVER CREEK APRES SKI
RAISE A GLASS SLOPESIDE
Located adjacent to the Beaver Creek Chophouse at the base of the Centennial Lift, C-Bar has an apres menu from 3 to 5 p.m. and has great outdoor seating when the weather is right. Try the flatbreads or the ceviche, and you can create a pretty killer bloody mary here, too.
Powder 8 Kitchen & Tap is the place to warm up by the fire and sip a cocktail paired with an appetizer, or create your own burger at the burger bar. Every day from 4 to 5 p.m. guests are invited to unwind and indulge with a complimentary s’mores happy hour at the fire pit.
CATCH A GREAT DEAL
Head to Beaver Creek’s seafood hotbed, Hooked, for your off-the-slopes lunch or apres ski stop. Tacos and sandwiches dominate the menu from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and happy hour on the patio rolls from 2 to 5 p.m.
SPOT SOME LOCALS
You won’t miss the big game if you belly up at Coyote Cafe with its big screen TVs, or if you want some more fresh air, then check out the outdoor heated patio. Head to another local watering hole, The Dusty Boot Roadhouse, for its happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. For $8, you can get a snack with a draft beer or glass of house wine.
Right below the Dusty Boot, The Metropolitan offers a pairing menu during their open hours of 3 p.m. to close (usually 10 p.m.). Get a small plate and a drink from this special menu for $8.
Get ritzy at The Ritz. Hop off the mountain from Bachelor Gulch Express and you are immediately on The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Mountainside Terrace where you can visit Daniel’s Bar & Grillfor a bottoms-up special. Of-age guests can order a local bottoms-up lager: beer flows through the bottom of the cup, which is then sealed by a branded magnet — after collecting four magnets they can be turned in for one free draft. Everyone can gather around the fire pit for a true Colorado experience with live music from 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.
HEAD DOWN THE VALLEY FOR HAPPY HOUR
Grab a pour of wine (or a few) at Monkshood Cellars in Minturn after a descent on The Minturn Mile. Owner and winemaker Nathan Littlejohn says his hope is for people to come to Monkshood Cellars to enjoy each other’s company and meet new people, all while imbibing locally grown, sourced and fermented libations.
Head to the tasting room on Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 5 p.m. to close.
“When I began thinking about building my own winery, I had the luxury of pulling pieces from all those experiences to bring together those aspects of winemaking that I enjoy most,” Littlejohn said. “I wanted to create a space where wine is approachable, enjoyable and forms community — a space where the ‘nose to the air, swirl, sniff, sip’ is left at the door.”
Locals love Vin48, especially the restaurant’s nightly 5 to 6:30 p.m. happy hour in the wine bar. Enjoy $3 premium drafts, $5 wells and glasses of wine and $8 select small plates.
And just a few doors down, Loaded Joe’s has a daily happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. serving $3 beers, $4 wells and $5 wine. Then next door from Joe’s, Prosit is a beer hall with happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m., offering $1 off all beers and wines. This spot has 12 European imported beers on draft, and you can order a sausage sampler … yum.
Stop by The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa for happy hour at Maya from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. daily and get $6.50 margaritas — either traditional, fresh tropical or sandia tijan, and Mexican tapas are $5 each or two for $8, including options such as a vegetable quesadilla or Achiote steak flatbread. The Lookout is in The Westin lobby and has live music from 4 to 9 p.m. daily.
“It’s always relaxing to kick off the evening with a delicious cocktail and some bites,” said Kevin Delonay, director of food and beverage. “The Westin Riverfront is the perfect place to spend happy hour because we have gorgeous views of Beaver Creek Mountain, where you hopefully just spent an epic day.”
And an important side note: The Westin Riverfront offers complimentary valet parking (based on availability) for patrons of Maya and The Lookout.
On Fridays and Saturdays from 3:30 to 7 p.m., Hovey & Harrison is the ideal downvalley destination for your apres — whether the mountain had you skiing, snowboarding, sledding with little ones or snowshoeing, you will find the perfect ending to your day here. Happy hour features include a hot chocolate bar with H&H homemade sipping chocolate, vin chaud (mulled wine), a shot and a beer, apres snacks and more.
“Since we are off the mountain and out of the crowded villages, you can get everyone out of their gear, have the car packed up and ready for home, making apres time a relaxing and smooth transition from adventure to home,” said Erin Liles, event coordinator. “You can even take a ready-to-heat dinner from our grab n’ go! In addition to the ease of H&H, we have a roaring outdoor fire pit with plenty of seating, outdoor heaters accompanied by furs and blankets on the patio and a warm cafe filled with games for all ages, unique snacks and a variety of beverages. We truly have something for everyone.”
At Zino Ristorante, a local staple, happy hour is every night from 5 to 6 p.m. in the bar and lounge area. Check out signature dishes at discounted prices, and don’t miss Mussel Madness — half-off mussels all night long on Tuesdays.
Further downvalley at the Brush Creek Saloon, happy hour is Mondays through Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m. Drink specials are a steal, along with great snack options such as sliders and home fries, potato skins or chili nachos, all for $4.95 per dish.
Eagle is also home to a lot of craft beer brewers that make for a great 5 o’clock stop, including 7 Hermits Brewing Co. and Bonfire Brewing.