Après is hands down every ski town’s favorite French word. In Sun Valley it is taken quite seriously and the options to properly revel in the glory of a day in the mountains can be an overwhelming bounty. After you’ve skied or snowboarded yourself into a crumple of sore legs and blissfully glowing cheeks, your inner Frenchman/woman comes out and you find the magnetism of the bar calling your name, ski boots and all. While one may see après skiing a merely an afternoon bronzing booze-fest, it is in fact time honored tradition as culturally significant as sitting for an espresso after visiting a museum digesting in conversation that which one has witnessed. Just like in art, as skier’s and snowboarders, “it” basically didn’t happen if you didn’t sit around afterwords and recount it over cocktails, beers, or a glass of vino. So we struck out on a perfect morning to ride some great snow with the promise of a top notch après guide as our goal. Join us on a quick tour of après done properly….
Step 1: Get properly stoked on the mountain. Après is just afternoon boozing if you didn’t spend at least a better part of a day in your boots in the clouds.
Ok, well played, you’ve assembled the gang, held a high level meeting deciding it is now time to kick back and slap yourselves on the back with a pitcher of tall cold ones with a view. Proceed to the next step.
The next step is to slash your way to the on-mountain respite of choice. Today we decided a pre-après stop at Seattle Ridge was in order.
Baldy’s super-fast lifts, 3,400ft of elevation change, and nonexistent crowds allow you to rack up some serious stats in a mighty short period of time. This means not only can you ski more vert in a matter of hours than anywhere else, you can earn your après faster than anywhere else.
Our first stop is a recommended world class lodge with spectacular views: Seattle Ridge.
…sip!!! A great pre-après spot is the Seattle Ridge Lodge with top of the world views and a patio designed for those looking to still incorporate a little bronzing to their scene. Now if you find yourself at Seattle Ridge, remember that you will have to get yourself down the mountain. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
After having safely and responsibly departed Seattle Ridge Lodge there is a conundrum which the avid après aficionado will encounter…River Run or Warm Springs??? For the savvy après animal it is possible to do both. You just need to take a few glasses of water in between stops as a precaution. So we head down to River Run where there is nearly always a band playing in the afternoon.
River Run Lodge is a perfect stop and you will regularly find a live band rocking out to a warm and cozy crowd.
The crowd at River Run is always a mix of young and old, local and tourist but no matter your persuasion, everyone shares one common bond: a great day on the mountain.
Insider secret: River Run has what might just be the best Bloody Mary on the planet. Spicy, tangy, and filled with nutrition… if you aren’t careful you might end up healthier than when you started it.
Partying in your ski boots is an après pre-requisite and fully acceptable. Interestingly, when your boots start feel like coming off, your bio-rhythms typically cause you to close out your tab and head home.
With our Bloody Mary’s reduced to a melted ice slurpy we were immediately beckoned back out of doors to ski another run over to the Warm Springs side of the mountain.
A little fresh air and and some icy cold snow to the face is a great reason to keep your pace and continue on the journey to après nirvana. So we braved the elements and headed back out making our way over to Warm Springs Lodge where yet another live band was keeping the scene lively.
Next stop Warm Springs. Ask for their “racily-named” bartender’s cocktail which is another local secret. Keep your eyes peeled for the Sunday specials later in the season. They tend to offer $5 wings, burgers and select pitchers of beer!!
The savvy après goer often packs an ironic coozy in their pocket for preserving the cold freshness of select beverage.
Once Warm Springs Lodge has been taken in, it is just a short jaunt down the street to the local’s favorite, Apples Bar and Grill. A veritable refuge of ski culture and lifestyle, this is the kind of place where everyone knows your name.
There’s pork chop in every glass at Apple’s which also has a solid menu of everything from a greasy burger to another local insider tip: a somewhat unexpected ahi tuna salad which will blow you away.
At Apple’s you’ll likely run into your friends whom you somehow missed all day on the mountain. It’s a big mountain.
Warm Springs is the “sunny side” of the mountain in the late afternoon and Apple’s deck is a favorite place to get in the sun and out of the wind to share some laughs and good times with your gang.
No matter who you are, eventually you will need to take off your boots and find yourself some dinner. Lefty’s Bar and Grill is the perfect place located in town and far enough away from the mountain that you may consider yourself officially off of après and on to dinner. It’s just a a short, free bus ride from either side of the mountain and drops you off a block away. Inside you will find a great vibe and rowdy raucous crowd watching the game, shooting pool, and talking more story.
The line up for the “Order Here” at Lefty’s is usually place where you will end up seeing just about everyone you know and while you might wait a few minutes, the food is well worth it.
Another local secret: When at Lefty’s, go for the “monkey fries”. They’re delicious, spicy, fried potato bites.
Every après must come to an end but we just heard there is live music down at Whiskey’s…. so time to rally!
This is just one way to take in the Sun Valley après culture. With so many options and offerings in the valley it’s hard to say where to begin and end. For more ideas on where to find a lively après scene you can also check out: Other notable après spots:
- Grumpy’s – burgers & brews
- Sawtooth Brewery – locally crafted brews
- Limelight Hotel – live music 5 nights a week, tasty cocktails and satiating pizzas
- Warfield – great happy hour and a kick-ass patio once the snow melts
Now that you have a list of options, there’s no excuse for us not to see you out there. Make plans to get out on the hill and savor the recharging nature of the après ski scene.