Photo by Michelle Bainbridge Constantia South Africa
Photo by Michelle Bainbridge Constantia South Africa
Where's the Wine Blog
Where's the Wine Blog  

Where to Après Ski in Vail, Colorado

Sharing my favorites over the years – updated for 2022

I have been visiting the ski resort in Vail since 1990 (in fact, it is where I first skied in my lifetime). It has remained my favorite mountain destination for all of these years. So much so, that we purchased a home in 2012 and now live there most of the time. There are so many places on this list that have stood the test of time and remain the top choices. Of course, there are closures and openings each year.


The most important tip to increase your enjoyment of this beautiful town is- to respect the elevation. If you fly to Denver or Eagle and arrive in Vail the same day, take it easy. This includes minimum consumption of alcohol, drink more water than you think you need and get a good night’s rest. Continue to drink lots of water throughout your stay.


It’s Après, not happy hour

Après ski is the traditional afternoon celebration at ski resorts around the world. You might call it “happy hour” and it is a happy time, but we call it “Après”. This is the time at the end of your ski day that your group meets for drinks and brag about your amazing exploits on the mountain. I am compelled to give a special shout out to my favorite spot for entertainment- The Chop House in Lionshead, at the base of the Eagle Bahn gondola. Phil Long provides the expert singing, laughing and instrumental entertainment. He has been entertaining visitors to Vail for decades. Many of the regulars were regulars at the Red Lion in their younger days. I, for one, am happy that he is now based at a slightly more grown up venue. His act is great fun for all ages. The kids really get a kick out of it, and Phil caters to them. The food and service are quite good as well.


Please note that employee retention is a challenge for all sectors in the resort communities. Business hours have been reduced and seasonal closures are more common than ever. Even outlets owned by Vail Resorts have remained closed since the beginning of the pandemeic. Reservations are highly recommended at all venues. 


In Vail Village (accessed from the transportation center, centered on Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive)


  • The George – This underground (literally) bar is the closest to the Vail transportation center. If you are catching a bus (a good idea if you are drinking), but find yourself with a little extra time; this is the place to grab a quick, cheap shot. Hard liquor is the thing to order here, not a place for nice wine.
  • 10th Mountain Whiskey Tasting Room - Located just across the covered bridge as you enter the Village from the transportation center, is the excellent tasting room of locally-porduced whiskeys and spirits. You will definately want to take some home to impress your friends while making them jealous of your trip to Vail. There are some nibbles but no food. 
  • The Red Lion- This is one of the original taverns and the “meat market” in the Village. Great live entertainment with a rowdy crowd. Many a hook up has occurred here. I even have friends who have met here and gone on to be married.
  • Almresi- An abbreviated Après time ends promptly at 4:30, in order to preserve the dignity of the dining room for their evening diners. People adore the German atmosphere which is authentically curated by the Thoma family. Really good fondue and German beers. They also offer hearty European fare. (Temporarily closed).
  • Vendetta’s- Frequented by ski patrol and locals. Known for cheap beer and pizza slices.
  • Los Amigos- This is prime real estate for watching the experts ski down Pepi’s Face (a double-black-diamond run) into the Village, at the base of Gondola One. The sun deck is always packed. Good Mexican specialties, pitchers of beer and of course, margheritas.
  • Pepi’s – Sheika and Pepi Gramshammer (Pepi is no longer alive, but his children are carrying on) have run this Inn, restaurant and bar since the 60’s. The bar area was updated recently and allows more interaction with the activity on Bridge Street. The sunny patio is always busy, it is the epicenter of the Village. There is a rotating selectin of live entertainment. In spite of being the only place I have ever participated in a group ski shot, this is a classy place. You can get a decent glass of wine, in addition to special cocktails
  • La Bottega - As with most places on this list, La Bottega is locally owned. You will find very authentic Italian fair here. I think it is the best pizza in town due to the large, wide-fired oven. Pastas, fish and meat are all done well here and there is the seasonal addition of white truffles should you like to indulge. The wine list features a range of varieties and price-points. 
  • La Tour - Chef Ferzacca and his wife, Lourdes run this lovely retaurtant. Don't just think of French food becouse of the name. I consider the cuisine to be more creative-American, which I am partial to. The menu changes seasonally but some of the items that always seem to be available are the hibachi rost oysters and the brussels sprouts side dish (we order it as an appetizer). Their fish entrees are always my favorites. 
  • Root and Flower – Finally, Vail has a wonderful wine bar. Opened a few years ago by alumni of Kelly Liken’s restaurant. The mind-bending selection of international wines (dozens offered by-the-glass) is sure to offer you something you have never tried before. They also offer exotic aperitifs from around the world. Try to get into one of their wine tasting classes for a more personal engagement (you may also schedule one of their sommeliers to conduct a wine tasting for your private group). The space is clearly too small for the amount of demand. It is busy from opening to closing. There are some really creative small plates offered to taste along with your wines.
  • The Remedy at the Four Seasons – Offers a different Après special each day. This is a great place to watch important sporting events, as there are plenty of large-screen TV’s. If you are into craft cocktails and fine wine, this is your choice. It is a bit pricey, but you are getting the Four Seasons ambiance and service. 

In Lionshead (accessed by the Lionshead parking structure, centered on Lionshead Circle and Meadows Drive)

  • Bart and Yeti’s- Named after two local dogs (and still dog-friendly). A good selection of tap beers and typical bar food. Lots of locals here. A cute log cabin atmosphere and live music.
  • Garfinkles – A lively sports bar with a tremendous sun deck at the base of Eagle Bahn gondola.
  • The Chop House Please refer to my earlier, enthusiastic endorsement as my most highly recommended destination for Après. It is the perfect combination of classy-casual with stellar entertainment, well-made cocktails, decent wine and beer selections. The location at the base of the gondola in Lionshead with a large patio, can’t be beat.


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