Yes, Aspen is ritzy. It’s shi-shi, and frou-frou, and whatever else you want to call it. It’s also a damn good place to ski and probably one of the best après spots in the West. Here’s how to do it right in five easy steps.
1. Start at a house party. It seems many are going on, especially when events like the World Cup Finals or the X Games are in town. Don’t worry about an invite, the key is to walk in like you own the place (or least like you know the person who does), shake a few hands, enthusiastically hug a stranger.
This will make them think they should remember your name, feel guilty they don’t, and probably offer you a beer to quell their guilt. Otherwise, ask around if anyone has seen your friend “Steve.” Enjoy a few brews, and you’re off to the next stop.
2. Justice Snow’s is a chic spot smack downtown in an 1889 building with an unmatched view of Aspen mountain. Plus, there’s a secret happy hour—just ask—that includes $5 margaritas made from scratch by the best-dressed bartenders you’ll see in town. Need a snack with that tequila buzz? Mushroom flatbread is enough to share.
3. Next stop: Victoria’s. It’s half coffee shop, half whiskey bar, and if Johnny Love is behind the bar, you’re in for a good time.
A Rhode Island native, Love is a 20-year bartending veteran who’s lived in Aspen for 25 years “because it’s sunshine and powder, baby.” He’s on snow seven days a week, drinks Dale’s Pale Ale, and is usually tending bar in his orange ski pants.
4. You cannot come to Aspen and skip The Red Onion. It’s the local’s spot for locals who hate the term “local” and Aspen’s oldest bar—open since 1892. There’s often live music, including an open mic night on Mondays. (If it’s not good, it’s at least entertaining). Drinks are cheap ($3 Coors on tap, what more do you need?) shot skis are flying around, and this guy is behind the bar.
The Onion is also home to server Mikey Weschler, who hasn’t missed an Aspen ski day since 2010 (when he only missed four days). “I’m lucky enough to live in town, work in town, and ski in town,” he says. “And I’m up there on the hill more than down here.”
5. By now, you should have a good buzz going, and the vibes will be high at Campo, a hip Italian spot that serves Kokanee in a bottle, plus an incredible wine list if you’re feeling classy. Bar manager Chris Carmichael has been running this spot for the past 18 years.
He landed in Aspen after a friend sent him a postcard from the place where the beer flows like wine 26 years ago. “I feel bad for all those one-mountain ski towns like Jackson,” he says. “We’ve got four.”