Over the years, I've learned that the après-ski scene is more than chugging a pint at the local microbrew pub and calling it a night. It's a progression of jumping from one joint to the next, often ending with live music and dancing. You'd be amazed at how much exercise your legs can take in a day (and pleased to know that most hot tubs at hotels and condos are available until the wee hours). So, instead of giving you one bar in each of the better-known skiing locales across New England, let's look at the big picture.
Unless Patrick Lyons opens his next club in Stowe, Killington will always reign supreme for Eastern partygoers. The scene rages from Friday night, when Bostonians and New Yorkers arrive late, to Sunday afternoon, when they crawl into their cars for the trek home. To unwind after your day on the mountain, start at the lounge at Killington's base lodge. Then head to Pickle Barrel's (1741 Killington Road, Killington, Vt.; picklebarrelnightclub.com) happy hour and, later, practice your Texas two-step on the shoulder-to-shoulder dance floor at the Wobbly Barn (2229 Killington Road; wobblybarn.com). Want more? There are always late-hour private parties at ski houses.
Stowe's Front Four (Goat, Starr, National, and Liftline) will teach the meaning of respect to the most intrepid skiers. After doing battle with these nasty black-diamond runs, you deserve the Mountain Ale at the Shed (1859 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vt.). Besides the free popcorn, sustenance includes pub food like nachos and burgers. More intriguing fare can be had at The Rusty Nail (1190 Mountain Road; rustynailbar.com), which recently renovated with leather chairs and large tables. Grab a plate of semolina fried oysters and an entree of ahi tuna, play some air hockey, and listen to live rock or reggae.
Sugarbush/Mad River Glen
Jen Butson at the Vermont Ski Areas Association jumps around like a pinball when she's in and around Waitsfield, Vt. "We start at the sunny deck of Mad River (Mad River Glen, Waitsfield; madriver glen.com), then grab some fondue at the Purple Moon Pub (Route 100, Waitsfield; purplemoon pub.com). Afterward, it's on to the Hyde Away Inn (Route 17, Waitsfield; hydeawayinn.com) for the local flavor" and the late night bands and pool tables at the Phoenix Bar & Grill (Brook Road, in nearby Warren). "If I'm still hungry the next day, I'll head on over to Flatbread (American Flatbread, 46 Lareau Road, Waitsfield; amer icanflatbread.com) for their wood-fired masterpieces."
After hitting the Mount Washington Valley slopes, head to the Red Parka Steak House & Pub (Route 302, Glen, N.H.; redparka pub.com). Opened in 1972, the Red Parka is a local institution known for great burgers, steak tips, and live music. The food is also good at Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co. (3378 Route 16, North Conway, N.H.; moatmountain.com), but it's the homemade beer that keeps the bar hopping. If you've had one too many, book a room at the Moat, starting at $49 a night.
You can usually find $2 beers or half-price appetizers at the Woodstock Inn, Station & Brewery (135 Main St., North Woodstock, N.H.; woodstockinnnh .com) happy hour. The large, family-friendly restaurant has root beer and seasonal malts on tap, like the hearty wassail during the winter months. The après-ski menu is just as extensive at Gordi's Fish & Steak House (260 Main St., Lincoln, N.H.; gordisfishandsteak .com), owned by former Olympic skier and coach Gordi Eaton. Pot stickers and wings are some of the quick eats. Save room for dinners of prime rib or lobster, homemade bread, and an all-you-can-eat salad bar.
When not galloping the globe promoting the state of Maine, public relations guru Nancy Marshall calls the Loaf home. Marshall says the current hot spot is The Rack (Sugarloaf Access Road, Carrabassett Valley, Maine), which is owned by Seth Wescott, 2006 gold medal winner in snowboard cross, and several of his buddies. Marshall also recommends The Bag and Kettle (9004 Main St., Carrabassett Valley) for its "great bartenders, locally brewed ales, and amazing burgers with curly fries." Never one to call it a night, Marshall said she usually ends up at the Widowmaker Lounge (top floor of the Base Lodge at Sugarloaf; sugarloaf.com/widowmaker .html). "This is the place to go for dancing after 9 p.m.," Marshall says.
Head to the house that Les built. A former owner of Sunday River, Les Otten has converted his ski house into the Phoenix House and Well (9 Timberline Drive, Newry, Maine; phoenixhouseand well.com). The swanky restaurant has an excellent wine list and first-rate appetizers like mussels steamed with garlic and peel-and-eat shrimp. For a more rustic feel, head to the Matterhorn (292 Sunday River Road, Newry; matter hornskibar.com) for its large selection of beer on tap, wood-fired pizzas, and rockin' good music.
Stephen Jermanok, a Newton- based freelance writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.