Writing Switch: A cold draft | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: A cold draft

by Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith

Welcome to the Shotski Cup, a fantasy draft of the best places to apres in Aspen. Whether you're riding first and last bucket, doing a one-and-done or downloading, the primary thought on a lot of people's minds at the end of the ski day is "where can I get a drink?" We, too, have been there, rounding Kleenex corner and feeling the Modelos from the Sundeck wearing off, already envisioning that pitcher of copper-colored nectar at the end of the run.

So to try to help you avoid the apres equivalent of selecting LeVeon Bell, we are drafting spots around the four Aspen-Snowmass ski areas to determine who can create a better limbo-legged lineup, get their constituents the drunkest and recommend the most fun. In pursuit of this year's crown is King of the Refill (Sean Beckwith) versus Phantom of the Apres (Ben Welch), who is on the clock:

BW: No. 1, Highlands Ale House

Why not capture all the business of Aspen Highlands with essentially the only place to drink? After getting stuck in a tree well on St. Moritz, nothing hits the spot like a 90 Schilling and pizza slice at the base of the mountain. With plenty of room both inside and on the deck to cram in patrons, the people-watching is prime and you're only 100 yards from two buses back to Aspen. It's also the place to be seen at Closing Day, where you can defy social norms, dress however you want and dance until your sloppy 4 p.m. work shift.

SB: No. 2, AJAX Tavern

The reason Chair 9 — The Little Nell's other apres spot — exists is for overflow from the Tavern. As someone who's hauled 20-plus 50-pound sacks of potatoes from the loading dock to their dry storage, I can attest to the volume that this place serves. I also co-sign on their patio, drinks, food and people-watching. It's not the friendliest to your wallet but it's the epitome of Aspen's apres scene — well, before they tore down Sky, anyway.

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BW: No. 3, Venga Venga

So nice, they named it twice. While Venga Venga isn't the only apres option at Snowmass, it's the most ski-in, stumble out. Fire pits on the deck mean you can take off your mittens and hold hands with that snowbunny — mine's name is Margarita — and how special is that? It's also one of those places that can randomly turn into a dance club for day drinkers, and nothing's better than taking some laps, tying one on, experiencing nightlife wearing comfy snowpants and being in bed by 8 p.m.

SB: No. 4, Hometeam BBQ

Give me the other apres spot that has a mountain to itself. Besides being the most alluring thing about Buttermilk, it's home to the best barbecue in the valley. So I'll take that over some guy standing at my table constructing guacamole that should've been made in the kitchen, and a drunk mom dancing to ear-splittingly loud EDM. Did I mention the fried ribs? They have fried ribs.

BW: No. 5, Red Onion

Didn't catch your friends on the mountain? Peep their ski pass photos from 20 years ago at the Red O, where the in-table memorabilia showcasing local yokels past and present feels like something out of "Harry Potter." One of Aspen's oldest bars, you can sip on a shot and a beer and get the full ski bum experience while appreciating the contrast of technicolor winter gear against a backdrop of Old West decor.

SB: No. 6, Zane's Snowmass

With a reliable menu and a great happy hour PPW (price per wing) rate, it's for people who just want a beer, a place to sit and relaxation. It's a dive that would be left out of the Zaggat's tour guide of Snowmass. Also, underrated Mexican food — try the flautas.

BW: No. 7, Limelight Hotel

Every well-rounded team needs a confident bench player to fill in during that bye week. Not in the mood for another Aspen DJ pressing "play" on their iPod? Be serenaded by the acoustic-folk sounds of some troubadours who performed "Alice's Restaurant" with Arlo Guthrie once (Thanksgiving reference: check) at the Aspen Skiing Co.-owned hotel. Luminaries and dirtbags alike can mingle thanks to affordability-conscience apres pricing. Take the walk of shame back to the commoner side of town clutching your snowboard six hours after the mountain closes.

SB: No. 8, Public House

Solid rookie investment because I can't select Zane's Aspen (two players from the same team is really risky, especially with such a short rotation, but it's absolutely ridiculous it's going undrafted in lieu of more pizza). Replacing Justice Snow's proved to be pretty easy with a staff who actually acknowledges people and fills orders in a timely fashion. Bonus points for having in-house beer on tap from Capitol Creek Brewery, an associated business located in Willits.

Whose squad do you think will imbibe their way to victory? Which bar should we sign off the waiver wire? Was Leonardo DiCaprio dreaming when the top was wobbling at the end of "Inception"? Tweet us your thoughts @TheAspenTimes or draft us to your beer pong team: bwelch@aspentimes.com; sbeckwith@aspentimes.com.

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