Platts: Do you après, brah?
January 14, 2016
'Tis the season for powder days, early mornings on the gondi, pancakes at Bonnie's and booze-packed après-ski sessions.
Arguably the most important meal of the day in a ski town, après occurs after brunch but before happy hour. Après is French for "after." However, the word has come to encompass so much more than that over the past 150-200 years. Originally started in Telemark, Norway, après ski came about at roughly the same time as downhill skiing did. The practice started in skiers' homes and eventually became a tradition at ski clubs. It was common for these drinking sessions to extend into dinner, where many large potatoes were consumed in an effort to soak up the massive amounts of alcohol in the system.
Today, not too much has changed. Après still occurs at ski clubs or in homes, but it's also a practice at bars and restaurants. Potatoes are still consumed, but typically in the form of French fries or potato chips. And, perhaps my favorite part about après, you get your kicks in early and can be snugly tucked into bed by 8:30/9 p.m. without a shred of guilt or fear of missing out.
In Aspen, après isn't only a meal…it's a way of life from November to April each year. If you haven't tried it or are in need of some new spots, continue reading…
39 Degrees at Sky Hotel
As far as après spots go, this one is the mecca. And sadly, it closes at the end of the season for a complete renovation (which will last at least a year and a half). So get over there while you still can. Dip your feet in the pool, order some Asian cheesy fries and an Aspen Slush, soak in the sun and enjoy.
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I'm not sure what's better at this après hot spot, the cocktails or the people watching. Luckily, you don't have to choose. Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, Ajax Tavern has a huge patio that always offers a good time. Make sure to order the famous truffle fries and a glass of bubbly. Or, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, the jalapeño margarita is the way to go.
Highlands Ale House
This is one of the only places to après at Highlands but that's fine because it's really all you need. A full bar with a focus on Colorado brews and liquors, Highlands Ale House is the ideal locals joint. A must try is the pizza. Whether it's a classic cheese slice or the new Florentine white pizza with prosciutto, arugula and figs, you can't go wrong.
Only a short block from the base of the mountain, this Italian restaurant is one of my favorites for a good après session. The bar is spacious and open, making it feel like there is a ton of room even if every seat is filled. The bartenders are always fun to chat with as they pour you generous servings of wine. Plus, the apps are all perfect for sharing, and they usually have some kind of happy hour special to sweeten the deal.
Snowmass has a great après scene with many fun choices, but time and again I return to Venga Venga. The slopeside location is unbeatable. As for the food and drinks, this joint actually has a specified après-ski menu. Feeling wild? Go for the tequila shooters and the Venga nachos. Feeling a bit tame? Go for the sangria roja and the grilled steak tacos. Either way, it's a win.
Hope to see you out there!
Barbara Platts does après…do you? Send her your favorite spots at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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