No version of this story would be complete without addressing the following question: what the bleep is “après”? I can barely get that French thingy to type over my “e”, so I’m sure as heck not qualified to tell you what après is. Therefore, in my expert opinion, I’m convinced that après ski culture has been evolved by ski bums who stumble down mountains after attempting that one quadruple black diamond chute and then drink themselves senseless to forget the moment they attempted it.
However, according to snowpak.com, it turns out that the tradition of the French-titled après “after” ski party began with our Nordic ancestors, who would end a long, cold winter day with a spiked cider or mulled wine to mellow out before heading home to complete household responsibilities. Apparently Tahoe didn’t get that message. PBR and a well shot as some kind of cheap drink special? Yep, that’s our après. Hot tub skinny dipping with people you just met on the lift? Probably après too. But, it doesn’t have to get that crazy. Here’s a tailored list of some great hot spots to stoke the après in each of you.
YOU WANT FOOD AND DRINKS FOR THE FAM
River Grill, Tahoe City: If you’re done skiing Squaw Alpine with the family and don’t want to keep hanging with the crazier après crowds at the resort, take a quick drive down Highway 89. River Grill is family owned, and located at the edge of Tahoe City, on the beautiful Truckee River. A 5 to 6 p.m. happy hour offers discounted food and drinks that are family friendly, in a classy environment. Seating is limited, so it’s best to arrive at 5.
YOU JUST SKIED IN PURPLE VELVET AND PEARLS
Uncorked at Squaw: If you like to keep it classy, wine bar style, Uncorked is for you. Sample wines by the glass or buy a whole bottle to share, and pair it with offerings of fancy cheeses and crackers. This is a casual yet upscale venue with a gorgeous wood interior built locally by Roundwood Designs. It’s great for a quick evening date even if you haven’t just rolled off the slopes.
BEERS AND BEARDS ARE YOUR THANG
Alibi Ale Works, Truckee /Incline: There’s an Alibi in Truckee and Incline Village, so whether you’re rolling back from Mount Rose or shivering your way home from Sugar bowl, these two locations are for you. This local brewery has dozens of beer options to keep you feeling hoppy through the night, and specializes in nachos that satiate any hunger. A causal environment makes it perfectly fine for you to stroll in wearing ski pants, or arrive with a group of friends.
A BAR CRAWL IS WHERE YOU’RE HEADED
Cantina, Chamois, Slot Bar at Squaw: If you’ve skied at Squaw Valley and haven’t made it to one of these spots — unless you’re pregnant — you’re doing it wrong. The Cantina, Le Chamois, and the Slot Bar are this resort’s three most iconic imbibing locations, and regular stops on seasoned riders’ après ski beer crawl list. We’re not talking about the best drinks around; we’re talking about zany locals sharing post-slope stories in these long-time bars, with history dating back, well, a long, long time.
YOU’RE READY FOR AN UPSCALE MEAL
Manzanita Lake Tahoe, Ritz-Carlton/Lone Eagle Grille, Hyatt Regency: If you spent the day at Northstar or Mount Rose and upscale is your steeze, there are two tantalizing options for you. The Lone Eagle Grille at the Hyatt in Incline (perfect for Aprés mount Rose) is known for its classy vibe, and you can order smaller bites and drinks from the lounge menu. If you’re at Northstar, have already changed into cashmere, and feel like going all the way, try Manzanita, about which blogger Spencer Spellman says, “You’ll be hard pressed to find a better cocktail in North Lake Tahoe.” It’s a tall order, but you never know until you try.
YOU’RE DOWN THE WEST SHORE
West Shore Market: If you’ve had a wonderful day at the intimate slopes of Homewood Mountain Resort, where you almost never have to beat the crowds, then you probably already had a great day. To top off this day, head to West Shore Market & Deli for nightly happy hour 5 to 8 p.m. This little market and deli turns into a flatbread pizza dreamland starting at 5 p.m., when you can save a dollar on craft beer on tap ($6) or a glass of wine ($7). It’s ultra casual, delicious, and super easy to pop in and out of this spot, whether the baby is crying, or commitment to dinner just isn’t your thang.
THAT TAHOE DONNER STEEZE DID YOU GOOD
The Lodge Restaurant & Pub: Tahoe Donner has a quaint ski hill that’s great for all ages and a whole bunch of amenities to soothe your bumps and bruises afterwards. But if sitting in the sauna and resting isn’t enough for you, head to the Lodge Restaurant & Pub’s happy hour, which takes place in the pub from 5 to 6 p.m. Enjoy drink specials and 25 percent off food. If you decide to stay for dinner, you’re in for a menu full of truly upscale yet comforting favorites (homemade ravioli, grilled skirt steak, anyone?).