What Is Apres Ski? Origins, What To Eat, Plus 4 Apres Ski Hot Spots
As winter enthusiasts eagerly hit the slopes, there’s an essential aspect of the skiing and snowboarding experience that goes beyond the thrill of the runs—the cherished tradition of après ski. What is apres ski?
Derived from the French term meaning “after skiing,” après ski has evolved into a cultural phenomenon. It combines socializing, relaxation, and, of course, indulging in delicious food and beverages.
In this post we’ll delve into the origins of après ski, the etiquette that surrounds it, and the delightful culinary offerings you can expect.
What is Après Ski: The Origins
The roots of après ski can be traced back to the European Alps, where skiers in the early 20th century would gather in mountain lodges after a day on the slopes. The tradition quickly spread to other snow-covered regions, becoming a beloved custom around the world.
What began as a simple way to unwind and share stories of the day’s adventures has evolved into a vibrant celebration of winter sports culture.
Etiquette of Après Ski
While après ski is a laid-back and convivial affair, there are a few unwritten rules to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s essential to be respectful of the atmosphere. Whether you find yourself in a rustic mountain hut or a trendy lounge.
Remember that après ski is about camaraderie. Strike up conversations with fellow skiers, share stories. Revel in the collective enjoyment of a day spent on the slopes.
Additionally, it’s customary to dress appropriately for the occasion. Many ski resorts have establishments with outdoor terraces, so packing a warm and stylish après ski outfit is a must. Think cozy sweaters, waterproof boots, and, of course, your favorite beanie to complete the look.
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Culinary Delights of Après Ski
No après ski experience is complete without indulging in the delectable food and beverages that complement the cold mountain air. Here’s a glimpse into the traditional foods you can expect, whether you’re skiing in North America or Europe.
A classic Alpine dish, cheese fondue is a communal experience that brings people together. Melted cheese, often infused with garlic and white wine, is served with bite-sized pieces of bread for dipping.
Another cheese-centric treat. Raclette involves melting a wheel of cheese and scraping the gooey goodness onto potatoes, pickles, and fresh crusty bread. It’s a hearty and satisfying post-ski meal.
Charcuterie and Cheese Boards:
In many alpine regions, you’ll find an array of locally made cheeses, sausages and/or cured meats. They are most often served with crusty bread, nuts, honey etc. This protein-packed option provides a hearty and convenient snack for skiers looking to refuel.
A steaming bowl of soup is a comforting choice after a chilly day. Classic options include hearty vegetable soups, lentil soups, or the iconic French onion soup, providing warmth and nourishment. One of the most memorable apres ski soup for us was a bowl of steaming hot spicy vegan three bean soup in Northern California. Still dreaming of it!
Soft pretzels, sometimes served with mustard or cheese dip, are a popular après ski snack. They’re easy to share and offer a satisfying mix of chewiness and saltiness.
Goulash or Stroganoff:
Hailing from Central Europe, goulash is a hearty stew typically made with tender chunks of meat, vegetables, and spices. It’s a substantial dish that provides warmth and sustenance to skiers seeking comfort. You will often see stroganoff on the menu instead, which falls in the same category. Many places provide a vegetarian or vegan options, commonly made with mushrooms.
Potatoes in various forms are prevalent in alpine cuisine. Whether it’s crispy potato pancakes, potato dumplings, or simply baked potatoes with toppings, these dishes offer a satisfying carbs-packed option. In the US expect good old french fries in all shapes and sizes. If you’re in Aspen do not miss the garlic truffle fries at Ajax Tavern (see below).
Warm drinks are essential to the après ski experience. Mulled wine (that’s heated wine with spices and fruit) and hot toddy are kings. Hot cocoa and a simple cup of hot tea are popular alcohol-free choices. They sure provide a soothing, warming and festive way to relax after a day on the slopes. Tip: Expect a slice of lemon in your tea when in Europe!
Indulging in high-quality Swiss chocolate is a sweet way to conclude an après ski session. Chocolate bars, truffles, and other confections offer a delightful treat for those with a sweet tooth.
Depending on the region, après ski offerings may include local specialties. From Canadian poutine to French onion soup, exploring the culinary landscape adds an extra layer of cultural richness to the experience. Hidden gem: if you happen to go skiing in the mountains of Central Europe, such as Slovakian Tatras, look out for two things: garlic soup and knedliki. You will thank us later!
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Apres Ski in The US
In the United States, the après ski scene is as diverse as the landscapes that host it. These handpicked restaurants across the USA offer not only delectable cuisine but also a chance to immerse yourself in the unique culture of each ski destination.
From upscale dining with panoramic mountain views to lively eateries with live entertainment, these après ski restaurants promise to elevate your winter getaway to new heights – pun intended.
So, after a day on the slopes, gather your friends, share stories, and savor the flavors of these 5 exceptional US apres ski institutions. (There are so many more, this is merely a sample!)
4 Apres Ski Hot Spots
1. The Little Nell – Ajax Tavern (Aspen, Colorado)
Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, Ajax Tavern at The Little Nell offers a sophisticated après ski experience. With a stunning mountain backdrop, patrons can enjoy truffle fries, gourmet burgers including plant based options, and a wide selection of craft beers and cocktails. If you’re craving a warming glass of red, their wine list is excellent too!
The vibrant atmosphere and exceptional cuisine make Ajax a must-visit spot for those seeking a touch of luxury after a day on the slopes. Pro tip: their world-famous truffle fries are enormous and best enjoyed shared.
2. Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro (Aspen, Colorado)
For a unique and unforgettable experience, head to Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, situated on the Highlands Mountain. Accessible by ski or snowcat, this mountaintop restaurant serves up European-inspired cuisine.
Expect Swiss raclette, gruyere fondue, truffle gnocchi, and a selection of fine wines. All while taking in breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. Oh, and did we mention champagne showers…? Say no more.
3. Alpino Vino (Telluride, Colorado)
Tucked away at over 11,000 feet in Telluride, Alpino Vino is the highest-elevation fine-dining restaurant in North America. Originally a private retreat designed by a famed local architect on an historic mining claim, Alpino Vino is the cornerstone of Telluride Ski Resort’s unique and award winning culinary offerings.
Accessible by a guided snowcat, this intimate spot serves up a blend of Northern Italian and American cuisine. The menu features delectable options such as handcrafted pastas and comforting grilled cheese with tomato soup. All paired with an extensive list of little-known wines.
4. The Mangy Moose (Teton Village, Wyoming)
Located near the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, The Mangy Moose is a legendary après ski spot. With a rustic Western vibe, this establishment offers a diverse menu, including signature dishes like bison chili and elk bratwurst.
But it’s not all about the carnivores at this historic hang out. The Idaho rainbow trout is an excellent option, and they even have a home made vegan meatloaf! Live music and a lively atmosphere make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
What is Apres Ski
Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a snow-loving novice, the après ski experience is an essential part of winter adventures. Après ski is more than just a post-skiing ritual. It’s a celebration of winter, camaraderie, and the joy of being in the mountains.
As you plan your next ski adventure, remember to embrace the après ski culture. Engage in friendly conversations, and savor the delightful culinary creations that make this tradition truly unforgettable.
Have you tried any of the above dishes or visited the restaurants? Tag @eightyflavors in your apres ski food adventures on social media!