Who needs an après ski scene when there's one happening right on the slope?
Shredding down a run at Aspen Mountain, the sound took me by surprise: the popping of a champagne cork followed by chatter. I rounded the bend and then saw the yellow umbrellas and Veuve Clicquot flags waving from a pop-up champagne and caviar bar, right at the bottom of the hill. Appropriately, it’s called The Oasis. What the hell, I thought—I’d just finished a morning of snowboarding down the most advanced runs of my life. Why not champers to celebrate?
Aprés-ski is no new trend. Nor are pop-ups, for that matter. However, bars popping up directly on the slopes? That’s pretty new. As longtime Aspen skier and instructor Ted Mahon put it, “Happening upon a bar mid-run, like The Oasis, is surreal.” Agreed. From crazy ice sculptures that house bars to snowcats that serve beer, here’s where you can find the best outdoor ski bars this winter.
The Pop-Up Bars
The Oasis at The Little Nell (Aspen, Colorado)
Where: Different locations around Aspen Mountain with clues dropped on The Little Nell Twitter account.
Dates: Starting in February and running through the season.
Hours: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday while the lifts are running.
The Oasis is operated by Aspen’s only five-star, five-diamond property, The Little Nell. It debuted last year and is the first-ever champagne bar found on a ski slope. Veuve Clicquot flows (sorry Moet fans) as does the caviar, like hackleback sturgeon. Not only is it a pop-up, but it’s also roving, so you'll never find it in the same place twice.
Little Mill (Mammoth Mountain, California)
Where: Different spots on Mammoth Mountain, with locations shared via the Mammoth Mountain mobile app or the #BBQCat hashtag on Twitter. Warning: You may have to filter through many photos of house cats holding grilling spatulas.
Dates: December through the end of the season.
Hours: Daily for breakfast and lunch.
Now in its third year, Mammoth Mountain’s converted snowcat, Little Mill, is a barbecue and beer shack on wheels—or rather tracks. It’s their own California Mountain take on a food truck, with items like a carne asada brisket burrito and local craft beer from Mammoth Brewing Company.
Ice Bar (Olympic Valley, California)
Where: The base of the Sherwood Chair at Alpine Meadows.
Dates: February through the end of the season.
Hours: Daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. when weather permits.
Just north of Mammoth Mountain on the north shore of Lake Tahoe is Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. It’s had a pop-up ice bar for several years, appropriately named the Ice Bar, and it’s the most casual bar on the list. The most popular item is a PBR tall boy can, but you can also find their own take on cocktails, dubbed “Chuters and Brews”, a shot-and-beer combo and even grilled bratwursts to snack on.
Near Park City? Try an Ice Bar
Powder Ice Lounge
Where: Waldorf Astoria, adjacent to the Powder restaurant.
Dates: January 15 through the end of the season.
In the same vein as the roving ski bars, stationary ice bars are also picking up steam at ski resorts. Especially in Park City. Take Powder Ice Lounge at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, for example. Located on the outside of the hotel facing the pool, Powder Ice Lounge is outfitted with a 14-foot bar made fully of carved ice and other pieces of sculpted ice furniture, serving champagne by the bottle, glass and flights, and cocktails like the Cedar Smoked Manhattan, finished off with a blast from a cedar-infused smoke gun.
Where: Terrace of the St. Regis Bar.
Dates: December though the end of the season.
The aptly named Après at the St. Regis Deer Valley, which is part castle-like sculpture and part Ruinart Champagne bar, is made completely out of ice. Thousans of icicles have been cultivated to make the palace resemble something directly out of nature. Go there and you’ll find Blanc de Blancs collection among other varietals of bubbly, including the Ruinart Rosé and Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2004.