Seven iconic Utah resort bars for post-powder day sipping
While Europeans can claim they invented (and yes, probably perfected) après ski culture, Utahns celebrate a successful day on the slopes with equal enthusiasm and style. In our book, a great powder day is made even better when followed by a hearty snack and festive libations, especially when we’re staying on-mountain, putting off cramming ourselves onto the ski bus or biding our time before our designated driver joins the dreaded snake of traffic heading down the canyon. From ski-bum shots n’ brews specials to posh bespoke cocktails, this handful of favorite Utah resort bars welcome patrons fresh off the slopes, no need to even change your boots. (Note: most are 21-and-over establishments.)
The Owl Bar
No trip to Sundance Resort (celebrating 50 years this season) is complete without a detour to the Owl Bar. The 1890s-era structure was moved from its original location in Thermopolis, Wyo., and was apocryphally a favorite watering hole of Butch Cassidy and Co. It’s certainly come a long way since those gunslinger days: The original rosewood bar shines with a high gloss and comfy seating makes the space one of the state’s best examples of Old West charm married with modern resort luxury. Bar snacks are kicked up a notch here; loaded nachos or crispy fried pickles with chipotle aioli are a perfect complement to the Owl’s signature Old West Manhattan. Or, you can order a full dinner from a selected menu of Foundry Grill items. Owl Bar manager Laurie Falk Cornia says Sundays at Sundance are a local favorite, with après ski live music from 3 to 6 p.m., and they always have a lively St. Patrick’s Day party.
Sundance Resort, 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, 800-892-1600, SundanceResort.com
The Sitzmark Club
Called “The Sitz” by locals, it doesn’t get much more iconic Mountain West ski lodge than this spot that opened in 1940. The knotty-pine furnishings, wood-paneled walls and sunken bar of Alta Lodge’s Sitzmark Club are right out of a mid-century travel poster. And getting there is half the adventure: either grab onto the Alta Lodge rope tow to be pulled up to the base of the lodge, or, from the roadway entrance, descend several flights of stairs into the lodge lobby. From there, follow the tantalizing scent of simmering hot apple cider around a corner and up another stairway to the cozy Sitzmark Club. Leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind to find your way back is optional.
In addition to the stellar mountain views, the flickering fireplace and comfy couches are pretty hard to leave after a hard day of hitting the slopes. The bar’s rotating tap handles feature lots of local brews with prices easy on the wallet.
Just don’t expect a raging late-night party scene at this Alta standard. “We’ve got a pretty serious skier’s crowd here at The Sitz,” bartender Mike Campanelli says. “Most people want be ready to go for first chair the next day.”
10230 E. State Highway 210, Alta 801-742-3500
The Tram Club
With its ski-bum-haunt-meets-sports-bar vibe, you’re just as likely to find a famous pro snowboarder enjoying a brew after a day of filming promos as you are to run into the liftie who loaded you on Gadzoom that morning. Tram Club owner/manager Jackie Tripp says camaraderie has been the bar’s signature going on 25 years; “Customers refer to the Tram Club as the Cheers Ski Bar, where everyone knows your name.” In addition to a lively patio, pool tables and more than a dozen TVs showing live sports feeds and powderhound videos, the bar legendarily has the best après ski deals in Utah, with $5 drink specials and addictive spicy cheese fries. “We’re a sports bar and more,” Tripp says, which also has live après ski music Wednesday-Sunday with the exception of days when there’s a major sporting event or the resident snow volleyball team, the Spicy Cheese Fries, are playing.
Snowbird Level 1, 9385 Snowbird Center Drive, Snowbird, 801-933-2222, Snowbird.com
A Big Cottonwood Canyon staple for decades, it seems like everyone ends up at Molly’s. From moms taking a bloody mary lunch break while their kids are in ski school to a bustling wall-to-wall après ski scene, this quintessential A-frame ski bar checks off all the feel-good boxes: a roaring fireplace, spectacular mountain views, lots of local brews and great bar food. “We make everything from scratch in our small kitchen,” manager Curtis Sigoda says, including pizzas, generous sandwiches and the bar’s famously huge nacho platters. Count on live music Thursday nights at 7 p.m. (coinciding with the Uinta Brewing ski bus night skiing partnership) and Saturday afternoons for après ski entertainment. Looking to warm up on a particularly blustery day? Get the Molly’s Milk: Kahlua, brandy and coffee topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
Brighton Resort, 8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Brighton, 801-532-4731, BrightonResort.com
“Ski Beach” at Silver Lake
It’s a spring skiing ritual not to be missed: Slather on the sunscreen and head up to Deer Valley for a dreamy day of carving the groomers in style. Inevitably, we’ll take an afternoon break to stretch our legs, and it doesn’t get much better than relaxing on Deer Valley’s iconic Ski Beach facing the Birdseye run. Snag a beer inside adjacent Silver Lake Lodge, plop into a comfy white lounge chair, shake tangles out of your helmet-headed hair and soak up the Vitamin D to get that much-coveted goggle tan. And if you get a case of the hangries, there’s no better cure than a burger or brat fresh from The Grill at Silver Lake. Now, this is the life.
Silver Lake Lodge, Deer Valley Resort, 7600 Royal St., Park City, 435-649-1000, DeerValley.com
The Corner Store
In 1974, members of the Doilney family opened The Corner Store, leaving behind hectic East Coast lives to pursue the ski-bum lifestyle in what was then the sleepy mining town of Park City. Although ownership changed over the years (the Doilney’s came back as co-owners in 2004), The Corner Store at the base of Park City Mountain keeps the groovy feel of Park City’s pre-Olympic years alive and well, with the party flowing onto the plaza all day long. “As Park City grew into an international ski destination, The Corner Store remained a place where locals and tourists felt comfortable relaxing and telling stories of their exploits on the mountain,” James Doilney says. He points to paraphernalia on the restaurant’s walls telling the story of Park City’s changes over the years. The vibe of this locals’ favorite hangout, he says, is “peace and love.” The Corner Store and all those who help make it what it is, he says, keep the soul of the no-longer-sleepy ski town alive.
Park City Mountain base area plaza, 1325 Lowell Ave.,
Park City, 435-645-8666, ParkCityMountain.com
Finished just weeks before hosting the 2002 Olympic alpine downhill events, Snowbasin’s posh base lodge has some of the tastiest menus (yes, even in the cafeteria!) in the Intermountain West thanks to 15-year veteran executive chef Scott Sniggs and the early influence of resort founder Earl Holding of Grand America Hotels and Resorts. Originally referred to as “The Lounge” in Earl’s Lodge, the resort recently made major updates to the room and it has been renamed Cinnabar as a nod to the cinnamon and red décor accents and original Murano glass chandelier. But even with all of this glam (and perhaps the swankiest bathrooms in the industry), a visit to Snowbasin in general and the Cinnabar in particular is never stuffy. Resort regulars and staff are some of the friendliest in the biz, and the après scene on Snowbasin’s plaza and in the Cinnabar can’t be beat. Communications coordinator Megan Collins notes that there’s now more seating in the Cinnabar since the re-vamp, a boon during the resort’s many live music events. “Our après music features a lot of great local artists as well as Snowbasin favorites like Kris Lager Band and Jelly Bread,” Collins says. “We always have great new cocktails to try each season as well as the crowd favorites,” like the sky-high boozy hot cocoa and a big selection of local brews and spirits.
Earl’s Lodge, Snowbasin, 3925 E. Snowbasin Road., Huntsville