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TravelTravel Advice

How to Set Up the Ultimate Portable Après Bar

This season we may not be able to have a post-ski beer at the lodge, but these decked-out tailgate setups will keep things festive

Here’s everything you need for the ultimate portable setup. (Photo: PatitucciPhoto/Cavan)
Friends relaxing while car camping

Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.

With ski resorts implementing strict social-distancing protocol, limiting lodges to takeout, and either closing or capping capacity on indoor spaces, après isn’t going to be the same this year. But fear not, because we have some advice on how to bring the bar with you—or, rather, to your car at the ski resort’s parking lot. Here’s everything you need for the ultimate portable setup.

Legacy Bar Backpack ($157)

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(Photo: Courtesy Legacy)

If you want to create a portable bar, you’ve got to move beyond just throwing some beers in the cooler. That starts with a portable cocktail set. The Legacy Bar backpack is a 16-piece collection that has everything a roving bartender could need to serve up some fancy camp cocktails. It all packs into a waxed canvas carrying case, and there’s even an insulated main pocket designed to hold three bottles of booze. Inside you’ll find six cocktail picks, a two-piece strainer, bar tongs, a muddler, a double-sided jigger, a paring knife, a bottle and can opener, a small cutting board, a cocktail spoon, and a Hawthorne strainer. If you don’t know what half of those things are, just know this: you’ll have no excuse to serve up a bad drink. If you’re looking for something a little smaller and more affordable, check out this Travel Bartender Kit bag ($125), which comes with similar equipment but doesn’t include an area for liquor bottles.

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Front Runner Stainless Steel Prep Table with Basin ($275)

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(Photo: Courtesy Front Runner)

You’ll need a place to set up shop once you unpack your kit. I love Front Runner’s tables, because they fold down quickly, don’t have any extra shelves or add-ons that could break, and feature a stainless-steel top that wipes down easily. The washbasin makes post-drink cleanup even simpler. As a bonus, if you have a Front Runner Slimline II roof rack on your rig like I do, you can stow the table securely beneath your rack with its Under-Rack table slides ($105). 

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Stanley Adventure Stacking Vacuum Pint Cup ($18)

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(Photo: Courtesy Stanley)

There are a ton of insulated pint glasses out there, but I prefer Stanley’s Adventure Stacking Vacuum cup, because it’s reasonably priced and offers a secure grip. The vessel is dishwasher safe, and Stanley claims that the double-wall insulation will keep your drink cold for up to four hours. I’ve never had a drink last for four hours, so I can’t confirm that.

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GrowlerWerks uKeg Go ($99)

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(Photo: Courtesy GrowlerWerks)

Although you may not be able to go to your favorite local bar or brewery at the moment, it’s important to continue supporting them, and picking up a growler of your favorite brew is a great way to do so. If they allow you to bring your own container, the uKeg Go is an ideal option. Typical glass growlers don’t keep beer fresh very long, which the uKeg Go remedies by using a food-grade CO2 cartridge, so your beer stays carbonated for up to several weeks. And its double-wall insulation means it stays cold—and you don’t need to worry about someone dropping and breaking your growler.

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High Camp Firelight 750 Flask ($125)

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(Photo: Courtesy High Camp)

It’s time to get rid of that old hip flask you got as a gift years ago (you know, the one that leaks and has a tiny opening you struggle to pour booze into). The High Camp Firelight fits an entire fifth of your beverage of choice and comes with two tumblers that attach via a magnetic lock system.

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GSI Stemless Red Wine Glass ($7)

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(Photo: Courtesy GSI)

GSI makes some of my favorite camp cookware, including these BPA-free copolyester stemless wine glasses. My wife and I have had a set of these for many years, and they’ve stood up to plenty of abuse bouncing around in the back of my truck and getting knocked over by our dogs at our sites. The real beauty is that they’re nearly spillproof, thanks to the low center of gravity.

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Cuisinart PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle ($80)

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(Photo: Courtesy Cuisinart)

The alfresco nature of a ski tailgate means you’ll want the option for a hot toddy or cider. This cordless kettle boils up to 1.7 liters at a time, heats up faster than comparable models, and has a function that allows you to keep the water at a certain temperature for up to 30 minutes.

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Otterbox Venture 45 Cooler ($245)

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(Photo: Courtesy Otterbox)

Otterbox is known for its tough-as-nails phone cases, and its coolers are no different. The Venture comes in three sizes, but the 45-liter cooler has the perfect amount of space for everything from a long weekend of camping to a day on the slopes. The cool thing about it is you can get accessories for it, like a cutting board and drink holders, that attach to the side, giving your portable bar more versatility.

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Filed To: CampingAccessoriesCoolersSkiingFood and Drink
Lead Photo: PatitucciPhoto/Cavan

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