Nothing beats the exhilarating high of carving through a wide-open field of freshly fallen snow. The way the powder explodes into the air like Champagne foam and the world suddenly takes on the sound of a quiet whisper. And nothing compliments that high of spending an entire day skiing than a well-earned drink at the end of the day—to say nothing of the curative effects if you took a few tumbles while trying to perfect your turns. But when it comes to drinking while skiing or riding, there’s a wrong way (filling an insulated hydration pack with your favorite tequila and hopping on the lift) and a right way. Follow these rules to drink like a pro on the slopes.
Make no mistake. Altitude IS a factor. If you’re coming from sea level, expect the booze to hit you harder, and faster, than you’re used to, an effect that can linger for several days. It’s best to think about drinking at elevation as wading into the shallows, not diving to the deep end, or you’re liable to belly flop. And no one likes a sloppy drunk staggering around in a pair of ski boots.
Skiing and riding works parts of the body that you didn’t even realize you had, and the first few days on the slopes your legs will probably be Jello by midday. So feel free to retreat to that mid-mountain pub and rekindle your confidence and stamina with a bloody Mary or a pint. But stick to just one (especially before lunch). A little liquid courage goes a long way. However, a lot can lead to a loss of motivation, or an unintended detour into a grove of pine trees.
Post-ski beverages are as storied a tradition as the sport itself. Locations vary, from open-air patios replete with lawn chairs and PBR in cans to famed ski bum bars like Sun Valley’s Apples, and the Mangy Moose in Jackson Hole. Everyone here is riding the same buzz—especially after a day where the conditions shined. You can practically get high on the atmosphere alone.
On warmer days, follow the age-old ski bum tradition: Stash a six pack in a snow bank when you first arrive at the resort. Nothing beats skiing right up to your car at the end of the day and sipping from a snow-dusted can as you wait for your loser friends to catch up. And even if your friends are nowhere to be found, chances are you won’t be alone; resort parking lots often evolve into open-air parties.
On colder days, head for the pub/bar/lounge/lodge and consider a hot beverage like mulled wine, a hot toddy, or an Irish coffee, the latter of which also includes the added benefit of caffeine. Also remember: Even though you may not have sweated much while skiing, you’re still dehydrated. Water is your friend.
Okay…if you haven’t participated in this rite of passage, you should. Once. Otherwise, the shot ski—an old ski with shot glasses attached across its length in set intervals so that a group of people all tilt the ski and down a shot at the same time—should be avoided at all costs. Same for the ice luge.
Today’s mega ski resorts are pretty much adult amusement parks. Expect live music, full-on dance clubs (sometimes only accessible via gondola ride), and—in Nevada—gambling. You may want to go all in. But we suggest you tread lightly. Most lifts close in the late afternoon, so you’ll probably get an early start. From there, it’s easy to get sucked into the quicksand, only to return to reality as the winter sun finally peaks over the ridgeline. You’re there to ski—and then to have a few drinks. Not to drown away the regret of missing a powder day.
Unless it’s your last night. Then go for it.