Après-ski at Utah's Vintage Bars and Modern Classics

12 Après-Ski Spots From Slopeside to Downtown Salt Lake (Ski City)

An act of celebration and relaxation, one simply must make time for après-ski with your carving compadres after the lifts have closed. A tradition rooted and refined in many a European resort chateaux, this is the “after ski” enjoyment of good food and drink. Most après-ski establishments offer small plates for sharing or entrees for heartier appetites, in addition to warming winter drinks and tasty libations you can share with friends and family.

A day spent sliding and floating on The Greatest Snow on Earth warrants such an afternoon of eating, drinking and revelry, refueling and toasting to the ski gods for more powder days to come. Take your last turns, stow away your skis or snowboard, then come with us to several world-class vintage bars at mountain resorts and to modern classics in the city within walking distance of several hotels. It’s the ideal way to end your snow day. These are some of the best apres ski bars in Utah.

1. Sitzmark Club (Alta Ski Area)
A cozy space lined with knotty-pine panels and windows that open up to Alta Ski Resorts’ rugged terrain, Sitzmark Club is for the schussers of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s skiers-only resort. Located upstairs at the Alta Lodge, the Sitzmark is a classic and historic ski-hotel bar that’s seen little change since opening in 1939. Alta Lodge, 10230 UT-210, Alta, 801-742-3500, AltaLodge.com

2. The Hog Wallow Pub (Ski City)
The Hog Wallow is a locals’ favorite spot for listening to live music four nights a week — Wednesday through Saturday — and devouring Tornado Tom’s barbecue. Established at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon in 1947, an oaky interior and wooden sculptures help give Cottonwood Heights’ most notorious après-ski bar a rustic charm. 3200 E Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, Cottonwood Heights, 801-733-5567, TheHogWallow.com

3. Cotton Bottom Inn (Ski City)
Many a canyon local will argue that Cotton Bottom Inn has Utah’s best garlic burger. Dig in, because there are scant other food options here aside from the award-winning explosion of garlicky goodness. After eating, don’t miss knocking around a few games of pool and putting some quarters in the jukebox at this dark no-frills tavern. 2820 E. 6200 South, Holladay, 801-273-9830, CottonBottomInn.com

Vintage: Shooting Star Saloon, Ogden Photo: Jay Dash
Vintage: Shooting Star Saloon, Ogden Photo: Jay Dash

4. Shooting Star Saloon (Ogden Valley)
The oldest continually-running bar in Utah (since 1879), Shooting Star Saloon is known for its eccentricities — namely, taxidermy and burgers. Hung over the “Buck Booth” is the stuffed head of the once-largest (298 pounds) St. Bernard, named Buck; other large game adorn the walls here, too. Comprised of two ground-beef patties, two cheese slices, and a grilled knackwurst Polish sausage in the middle, the Star Burger must be ordered as-is (You don’t want ketchup? You can scrape it off when the burger is served). 7350 E. 200 South, Huntsville, 801-745-2002, ShootingStarSaloon.com

5. Umbrella Bar (Park City Mountain)
After some corduroy laps around Park City Mountain Resort, watch the sunset from inside the Umbrella Bar. This unique yurt-like structure has full glass walls for 360-degree panoramic views. Conveniently located at the Resort Village. Umbrella Bar serves grub like housemade chili and buffalo hot dogs, as well as an extensive selection of brews. Resort Village, Park City Mountain Resort, 4000 Canyons Resort Dr., Park City, 435-615-4828, ParkCityMountain.com 

Vintage: The Owl Bar, Sundance Photo: Marc Piscotty
Vintage: The Owl Bar, Sundance Photo: Marc Piscotty

6. The Owl Bar (Sundance Resort)
Sit at The Owl Bar’s restored 1890s rosewood bar and muse that Butch Cassidy once drank at this plank. Back then, though, the bar was located in Thermopolis, Wyo., but has since been brought to this watering hole at Robert Redford’s Sundance. Explore an excellent Scotch selection by the fireplace and order food prepared at the Foundry Grill next door. Sundance Resort, 8841 N. Alpine Loop Rd., 801-225-4107, SundanceResort.com

7. Handle (Park City)
One of Park City’s newest culinary attractions, Handle has turned heads with its refined, yet casual, comfort cuisine made with local and regional ingredients. Prepared by former Talisker on Main Executive Chef Briar Handly and served in industrial-modern-decorated digs, the food ranges from imaginative small plates to quintessential high-elevation entrees and is backed by a well-crafted wine list and pre-Prohibition-era cocktails. 136 Heber Ave, Park City, 435-602-1155, HandleParkCity.com

8. High West Distillery

“Sunday brunch is one of the most popular times to visit the Wanship distillery,” High West Distillery Brand Manager Jenny Goolsby says. “People come mid-morning for a relaxing meal. Then they find out they can stay for a distillery tour and will come back into the bar for a tasting flight after. It makes for a great day.” Since construction finished in 2015, the Wanship site snuggled in the Wasatch Mountains off of I-80 has become the flagship destination distillery for tours and tastings in Utah. Originally started in Park City by Dave and Jane Perkins in 2006, High West Distillery’s brand paved the way for distillers all over the state to apply for licensing. Visitors can still see the original distilling operation at the historic Saloon in Old Town Park City. The Saloon is still a ski-in hot spot from Park City Mountain while the distillery is a destination drive about 30 minutes away. — Darby Doyle.

9. Sugar House Pub (Ski City)
Sugar House Pub attracts a diverse blend of patrons: college students from nearby Westminster College, skiers en route back to downtown Salt Lake City, and everyone in between. Friendly bartenders serve cheap sips in this dimly-lit enclave, and the vibe is chill as you sit in comfy chairs or play a game of pool after your ski day. Best of all, the rising Sugar House area is home to several new restaurants and old valley favorites within walking distance for a bite to eat before calling it a night, and a streetcar line connects to TRAX light rail for public transit back downtown. 1992 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-413-2857​

Modern: Thirsty Squirrel, Solitude Photo: Marc Piscotty
Modern: Thirsty Squirrel, Solitude Photo: Marc Piscotty

10. Thirsty Squirrel (Solitude Mountain Resort)
By day, Solitude Mountain Resort lives up to its name, providing ample room to score pow stashes well after a storm. But for the après-ski hour, there’s a place where people come together: the Thirsty Squirrel, located at The Village. Relax as you eat life-affirming nachos and sip soul-warming hot wintery beverages. This is the classic mountain pub to tell tales of the glorious runs you’ve taken all day. Located at Solitude Ski Resort, 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd. Solitude, SkiSolitude.com

11. Beer Bar (Downtown Ski City)
The libation emporium complex owned co-owned by Modern Family’s Ty Burrell is made up of the craft-cocktail-minded Bar-X and the brew-centric Beer Bar. “A love letter to the beer of the world,” Beer Bar pours nearly 30 beers on tap, with another 140-plus in bottles. What’s more, there’s always plenty of sports projected on the walls. And a menu — created, in part, by local celebrity chef Viet Pham — gives the hungry apres-ski crowd a choice selection of the best brats in the city, served till 2 a.m. 161 E. 200 South, 801-355-3618, BeerBarSLC.com

Modern: Beer Bar, Downtown SLC
Modern: Beer Bar, Downtown SLC

12. Copper Common (Downtown Ski City)

Celebrity restaurateurs in their own right, Ryan and Colleen Lowder have elevated the dining scene of Utah’s capital city with big city skill and hospitality and a passion for locally sourced food. Though fine dining is their background, the Copper Onion is a relaxed atmosphere focused on community, craft and sustainability. They quickly built a loyal local and traveler following and have since expanded their portfolio to next door’s sophisticated and urban Copper Common (pictured) and the mid-valley Copper Kitchen. Kick things off with the market cocktail at Copper Common to taste the best of the season and whatever plate you order, be sure to precede it with the tots. (The signature Copper Onion burger is always a good choice.) Copper Common: (801) 355-0543. Open 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. (Copper Onion opens for lunch). 111 Broadway #190, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Don’t just take our word for it—make sure you hit up the best apres ski bars from our list or discover your own. Whatever you do, you’ve got to experience The Greatest Snow on Earth.

Austen Diamond

Austen Diamond is the former music editor of the City Weekly and a freelance writer for national and regional magazines covering arts, entertainment, food, and news. He has won numerous awards for his reporting skills from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists. Also an acclaimed photographer and photojournalist, he shoots creative portraiture and documentary-style work and produces 13% SALT, an online photo journal highlighting Utah's modern pioneers, subcultures and communities.

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