Après-Ski Cocktails to Channel Winter Delight
One of the great pleasures of a ski resort is the party that comes after you leave the slopes: the après-ski. Loosely translated from French as “after skiing,” there’s no one way to punctuate the day. Some skiers go for something as mellow as a soak in the hot tub or a cozy seat by the fireplace, while others opt for a dance-party rager. But warming cocktails are almost always part of the equation.
Après-ski drinks vary, depending on local tastes and customs. But the cocktails tend to have a few characteristics in common. They often resemble a dessert-like libation that channels the childhood delights of a post-sledding cocoa. Brown spirits like whiskey or brandy are often the base, sassed up by sweet liqueurs or spice. And hot drinks, whether toddies or spiced mulled wines, tend to round out every solid après-ski cocktail menu.
We sourced four drinks from some of the world’s top regions for you to try at home. Take a cue from the resorts and crank up the fireplace, or you can light plenty of candles to create your ideal après-ski vibe.
The Art of the Shot
In addition to cocktails, straight shots of local liqueurs are also part of the après-ski drinking culture. Popular shots include genepi (in Italian) or genepy (in French), an herbaceous Alpine liqueur that bears a passing resemblance to the herbal notes in Chartreuse or even absinthe. Germany’s spiced Jägermeister and Austria’s Stroh are also popular, or any of a wide range of amari, eaux de vie or schnapps.
In more raucous spots, it’s not unusual to see shots lined up on the deck of a ski for multiple people to drink at once, a ritual known as the “shotski.”
Courtesy The Tschuggen Grand Hotel, Arosa, Switzerland.
For fans of classic Alpine mountain backdrops, look to the resort towns of St. Moritz and Arosa, where the Tschuggen Grand Hotel is located.
In Tschuggen’s rec room-like basement lounge (hence the drink name), this fortifying nightcap evokes the feeling of a sweetened glass of milk with an adult twist. It’s even served in a small glass-milk bottle, enlivened by a red-and-white striped straw.
- 1½ ounces aged rum
- 1½ ounces Frangelico liqueur
- ¾ ounce Calvados (apple brandy)
- ¾ ounce lime juice
- ¾ ounce vanilla extract
- 1½ ounces cream
- 3 ounces apple juice
In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake well, then strain into glass milk bottle or Collins glass. Serve with colorful straw.
Courtesy The Lodge Bar at Hotel Lodge Park, Megève, France
Located in the southeast of France, near the Italian and Swiss borders, this area enjoys views of famed Mont Blanc (“White Mountain”), the highest mountain in the Alps. Yet, it has a quieter, more rustic feel when compared to big, splashy resort towns. The cobbled streets of the town center drew the chic ski set starting in the 1920s. Its proximity to Geneva (about an hour away) helps bring in affluent vacationers who look to ski, snowboard or scale the peaks.
Vin chaud (“hot wine”) is a traditional offering that keeps with the restrained feel of the town. Yet, while most mulled wines are made with red wine, this one combines white wine and Port, plus a dose of brandy. Jacquère, a dry white wine from France’s Savoy region, is recommended, though Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc also work well.
- 3½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup white wine
- ½ cup Port
- 1 apple, quartered
- 1 orange, quartered
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4 cardamom seeds
- 1 pinch dried hibiscus flower
- ½ cup brandy
- Dried orange peel, for garnish
- Additional whole baking spices,
- for garnish
In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine brown sugar and 1 teaspoon water over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to simmer. Simmer without stirring for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to darken.
Add white wine, Port, fruit, spices and hibiscus. Stir together, and heat slowly for 10 minutes. Add brandy, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour into bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. Strain mixture. At this point, the mulled wine can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
To serve, heat wine (stovetop or microwave), and divide among four tea cups or glass mugs. Garnish each mug with dried orange peel and whole spices. Serves 4.
Courtesy The Little Nell, Aspen, CO
Equal parts sporty and luxe, this town attracts moneyed A-listers as well as low-key ski bums, some of whom are attracted by mellow vibes of nearby Woody Creek, where famed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once lived. This not-too-fancy riff on the classic toddy can appeal to both sets.
Compared to a regular toddy that’s topped up with hot water, this version uses chamomile tea to add nuanced flavor to whiskey made by Colorado producer Leopold Bros. Ricky Leyvas, bar manager at Aspen resort The Little Nell, created this cocktail. He says that hot drinks are all about the spices: “They can add so much flavor and balance to the drink.”
- 1½ ounces Leopold Bros Whiskey
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ¾ ounce honey
- 4–6 ounces brewed chamomile tea
- Half lemon wheel, for garnish
Stir all ingredients except garnish in latte glass or mug. Garnish with half-wheel of lemon floated on top of drink.
Courtesy Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Whistler, BC.
Just north of Vancouver, Whistler is noted for its European-style charm and sweeping mountain vistas. The area acquired additional cachet when it hosted events during the Winter Olympics held in 2010. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Olympic Park also offers snowshoeing, tobogganing and ski jumping.
Afterward, head to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler to warm up with drinks like The Overlord, created by the beverage manager, Guillaume Noel. The cocktail bears a passing resemblance to the classic Old Fashioned, but it’s brightened by a squeeze of fresh orange.
While most cocktails that involve juice are shaken, this drink is stirred to preserve the delicate aromatics of oils from the orange peel. Another popular drink at the resort is the Canadian Coffee, an Irish Coffee-style hot sipper sweetened with Canada’s famed maple syrup.
- 1½ ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
- ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
- ¼ ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 orange wedge
- Orange peel, for garnish
In mixing glass, combine first four ingredients. Squeeze orange wedge into glass, then drop into glass. Scoop in ice and stir. Strain into Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with orange peel.
- 1The Basement Milk Cocktail
- 2A Vin Chaud Recipe With a White Wine Surprise
- 3The Little Nell Hot Toddy Cocktail
- 4The Overlord Cocktail