I know what you're thinking: how can there possibly be 15 can't-miss bars in Utah? You might not even believe there are 15 bars in the entire state. I hear you.
I've spent the better part of the past 15 years of my life extensively researching myriad bars, lounges, restaurants, and ski resort parking lots in Utah, in search of the ultimate après-ski scene. My conclusion: How can you pick one? I couldn't, but I narrowed it down to my top 15... and a few honorable mentions.
Below you will find the Top 15 Après-ski Spots in Utah, organized by the following regions: Northern Utah, Park City, The Cottonwoods, and Southern Wasatch/Southern Utah. Some make their rankings simply because it's the only option in a dry town. While others regions of Utah have so many options they could have their own Top 15 list.
Dispelling some myths about Utah laws and customs:
Myth #1: It is illegal to drink in Utah. It's not hard to find a drink in 90% of the state, even Utah County – the most Mormon county in the state – has a bar on this list.
Myth #2: Utah has weird liquor laws. We prefer the terms "quirky" and "conservative."
Myth #2: Memberships are required to enter a bar. Thankfully, these quirky things went away in the early-2000s.
Myth #3: All Utah beer is weak. Grocery store and gas station beer is 3.2% alcohol-by-weight, which is roughly equivalent to the 4.0% alcohol-by-volume found in light beers. Full-strength beers, wine and spirits can be purchased from the state owned liquor store and bars.
Myth #4: Our DUI laws are the strictest in the country. Not until the law goes into effect on December 30, 2018.
Myth #5: You can't order a strong cocktail in Utah. While doubles and free poured cocktails are not allowed, there are other "flavoring" liquors that can be generously added to any cocktail to increase the potency. I'm not sure what flavor 151 proof rum adds to a drink (other than burning), but it's legal.
Myth #6: You can't buy alcohol on a Sunday. Utah bars and restaurants serve alcohol seven days a week. You can also buy beer and malt beverages from grocery stores and gas stations on every day ending in "y". Some businesses even have special production permits—High West Distillery in Park City and Epic Brewery in Salt Lake come to mind—that permits the sale of hard alcohol and full-strength beer on Sundays.
Myth #7: Ubers and Lyfts are hard to find. OK, this isn't really a commonly held belief, but it doesn't hurt to remind people not to drink and drive.
The Northern Utah section has a wide variety of après-ski options ranging from a coconut and agave martini at Snowbasin's Cinnabar Lounge
, to BYOB tailgate PBRs at Beaver and Cherry Peak. Downtown Ogden has a strong bar and dining scene that rivals anywhere else in the state. Even the Ogden Valley – home to Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley – knows how to get a little loose after a fun day on the hill.
The longest-running bar in Utah is located in the small, predominantly LDS town of Huntsville. Ski all day and show up hungry and order a Shooting Star Burger – featuring two beef patties, grilled onions, melted cheddar, all topped with a spicy knockwurst. Not that hungry? Order a Mini-Star Burger and they'll skip one of the patties. Pick out some tunes on the jukebox, shoot some pool, write your name on a dollar bill and pin it to the ceiling, and take a selfie with Buck, the 298-pound Saint Bernard. Don’t worry, he’s been dead, taxidermied, and hung on the wall for years. *Cash only
Pro Tip: Order a pitcher of Heidi's Special. A black-and-tan of sorts made with a blend of oatmeal stout and Coors Banquet.
In the lower level of the Timberline Lodge is one of the best après-ski joints in Utah. Featuring rocking live music, pitchers of beer, tasty sandwiches, and surprisingly good ramen menu, the Powder Keg is the perfect place to take an extended lunch or an early après. Warning: this place can get rowdy. Dancing on tables is not an uncommon spectacle.Pro Tip: The Powder Keg's Live Music Calendar brings some of the best local acts to Powder Mountain every week. Also, free popcorn for my fellow dirtbags.
After a long day ripping groomers on the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic ski runs or skiing pow under the shadow of Mount Ogden, don’t miss live music and cocktails in Earl's Lodge.
Pro Tip: Order the Main Street Indy or the Cinnabar Bloody Mary made with local Five Wives Vodka. Oh, and no Snowbasin mention would be complete without a shout-out to the nicest ski lodge bathrooms in the state... maybe the world.
The Parking Lots at Beaver and Cherry Peak
Both Beaver Mountain and Cherry Peak are dry ski areas. Your best bet for a good après is to pick up a six-pack and stash it in the snowbank until the end of the day. Sometimes there's nothing better than an après-ski tailgate to bring back memories of your ski bum days... even if those days were from earlier in the week. Be smart about this one and make sure your little brother or sister are your DD .
Honorable Mentions for Northern Utah: Roosters Brewing Company and Hangout, Brewskis, Social Axe Throwing
"Park City - A Drinking Town with a Skiing Problem,"
is a cheesy shirt you can buy at a t-shirt shop on Main Street, but a real veteran of Park City's après-ski scene would be better served picking up some swag from any one of the spots listed below. While I could probably put together an entire list of the Top 15 Après-ski Spots in Park City (read: future blog post idea), I did my best to narrow the list of Park City's après-ski spots to my personal favorites. It took a lot of hard work and "research", but, like they say, nothing worth doing is easy.
The Viking Yurt is one of the most unique places grab a drink at Park City Mountain. This Nordic-themed yurt is located at 8,700 feet, near the top of Crescent Lift. Stop in, check out the Scandinavian decor order a fresh baked cookie or a homemade sandwich, then step outside and enjoy a midday après from the Adirondack chairs. It also happens to sit next to to one of the busiest areas on the hill, so relax, have a drink, and watch the mayhem unfold in front of you.
Pro Tip: The Mulled Wine is out-of-this-world good. If you have the chance, don't miss the four-hour, six-course, Sleigh Ride Dinner.
The only ski-in-ski-out whiskey distillery in the country is located in Old Town Park City, Utah. The High West Distillery and Saloon
is located steps from the Town Run and across the street from the base of Town Lift. The Fondue and the Deviled Egg appetizers are absolutely phenomenal. The lunch and dinner menus are incredible. And the cocktails are some of the best in the state. This is a truly unique experience that should be on everyone's après-ski bucket list.
Pro Tip: Order a Dead Man’s Boots, or my personal favorite, an Old Fashioned made with Campfire Whiskey. If you're in a bind, High West sells bottles of whiskey and vodka seven days a week, even holidays.
The J&G Grill is located in the St. Regis Deer Valley. A short funicular ride from the Snow Park base area of Deer Valley takes you to an incredible restaurant and bar. The outdoor fire pits are the perfect place to look out over Park City, Deer Valley and the Jordanelle Reservoir. Be there at 5:30 pm each day for the celebratory champagne sabering.
Pro Tip: The 7452 Bloody Mary, featuring the local High West 7000 Vodka, is legendary!
Looking for a place to work on the goggle tan while sipping on a PBR and dancing in ski boots to live music? Look no further than the Corner Store at the base of Park City Mountain. The outdoor patio at this locally-owned ski bum hangout is the place to be in the spring or even just a sunny day in winter. As far as food goes, the traditional burgers and chicken tenders do the trick. The waffle fries are a personal favorite!
Pro Tip: The $3 PBR tallboys and $3 tequila shots can help keep you warm on cold days and cold on warm days.
Honorable Mentions in Park City: Umbrella Bar, The Farm, Red Tail Grill, Drafts, Silver Star Cafe, Old Town Cellars, Silver Star, No Name Saloon, The Spur, The Cabin, Legends, Pig Pen Saloon, Stein Eriksen Lodge, The Apres Yurt at the Montage, Powder at the Waldorf Astoria, and so many more.
Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are home to some of the best best skiing in the world. Consistently included in the top tier of national ski resort rankings, a perceived lack of dining and nightlife options are all that keep Snowbird, Alta, Brighton and Solitude from gaining further recognition. The good news is the average ski magazine reader simply doesn't know where to look. The four-pack of bars in Little Cottonwood Canyon is unrivaled anywhere else in the country. And Big Cottonwood Canyon is home to it's own unique après-ski scene ranging from quintessential a-frame cabins to repurposed mining structures to modern ski resort village bars. Not the mention a strong dining and live music scene located down-canyon in Cottonwood Heights.
Hidden below the Tram Deck in the Snowbird Center, this sports bar, featuring 30+ televisions playing with sports and ski and snowboard films, is the go-to spot for locals and out-of-towners alike. Order some spicy cheese fries and wash them down with a draft beer. Add any shot to the beer for only $1. Warning: the lack of sunlight can have a Vegas-like effect, where patrons have been known to confuse night and day upon leaving.
Pro Tip: The best après-ski deal in Utah: A shot-and-a-beer for only $5.
The world famous P Dog is a must. Located directly between Alta and Snowbird in the Alta Peruvian Lodge
, this bar is the place to be in Little Cottonwood Canyon from November through April. Featuring and extensive beer and cocktail menu, free popcorn, and the occasional free appetizer, this is the only place in the world you can share a shot-ski with skiers, snowboarders, local legends, and out of town hotel guests under the judging eye of a stuffed bison.
Pro Tip: On Sunday nights, the tables and chairs are removed and the place is packed with skiers, snowboarders, mountain employees, and hotel guests, partying and dancing to live music. P Dog Rule #1: Popcorn is NOT dinner.
Located somewhere in a series of staircases inside the Alta Lodge
, the Sitzmark is your classic European après-ski bar. With fireplaces, incredible views of Alta and Mount Superior, cozy quarters and traditional après-ski menu, this place is a perfect alternative to the rowdier scenes in the Canyon.
Pro Tip: Order a Boomerang — a hot toddy made with Twisky (tequila and whiskey), originally invented by local pro skier/trail runner/entrepreneur/social activist Julian Carr.
The GMD Saloon is one of the most obvious, yet underrated, spots to start your après. Order a bite and a beer and take in the views from the giant glass windows overlooking Alta and Mount Superior. Enjoy a pitcher of PBR or Epic's Sour IPA, order some pizza, and watch Jerry and his friends attempt to navigate the Collins and Wildcat lift lines.
Pro Tip: Upstairs: $10 pitchers of PBR upstairs. Downstairs: Alta Bombs (a double shot of espresso dropped into a PBR and chugged) are a great way to find your second or third wind in order to make it to après.
This quintessential après-ski spot In Big Cottonwood Canyon is located in an a-frame at the base Brighton Resort. With a cozy fireplace, incredible views, and some rad decor, this is the perfect après-ski spot and a great place to warm up in-between night skiing laps. Molly's is one of the classic après-ski bars in all of Utah.
Honorable Mentions in The Cottonwoods: The Thirsty Squirrel, Argenta Pub, Silver Fork Lodge, Porcupine, Hog Wallow, Spitz, or The Sev.
Pro Tip: Get the nachos and a Happy Meal – a shot of whiskey and a 16-ounce Rainier Beer.
One wouldn't normally think to look to south of Salt Lake City in search of après-ski. The predominantly LDS counties spanning from Utah County to the Utah-Arizona border have historically frowned upon the consumption of alcohol. But that hasn't stopped the resorts of Sundance, Eagle Point, and Brian Head from getting into the après-ski game.
The Owl Bar
is about as Old Western as it gets. Featuring the actual Rosewood Bar that Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and the Hole in the Wall Gang used to frequent in Thermopolis, Wyoming, 125 years ago. The food and cocktails are outstanding.
Pro Tip: Live music every weekend, food from the foundry grill and a whiskey cocktail, of course.
The Last Chair Saloon is located in the third floor of the Giant Steps Lodge. With live music every Saturday, BBQ, and the “Biggest Beer Selection in Southern Utah,” this is the place to après-ski in Southern Utah.
Pro Tip: The signature No. 9 Pale Ale named in honor of Brian Head.
Honorable Mentions in Southern Wasatch/Southern Utah: Las Vegas is only 200 freeway miles south of Brian Head... just saying.
So, there you have it. My Top 15 Après-ski Spots in Utah. For a state with an overwhelming majority of teetotalers, we still manage to have a pretty good time. For those new to Utah or visiting from out of state, this list should keep you plenty busy for the remainder of the season. For locals and fellow aspiring professional après-skiers, check out my Après Adam Century Club Challenge
, a checklist of the Top 100 Après-tunities in the state.