The Art of Après in Jackson Hole

By Jenna Mahaffie 

It’s an accepted, albeit a little funny, fact that outdoor feats are almost always followed by consumption. These accomplishments don’t even have to be incredibly arduous. Just the completion of an activity — any activity — elicits a maddening desire for caloric consumption. Whether it’s burgers and beers at the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson after an afternoon bike ride or pizza at Dornan’s after summiting the Grand, what’s the reason behind it all?

The obvious answer here is, of course, hunger. Skiing makes us hungry. Biking makes us hungry. Being cold makes us hungry. At the end of the day, we’re burning calories doing all of those things, and scientifically speaking, that’s truly the reason our stomachs grumble after a long day in the mountains sustained only by Clif bars and bananas.

But perhaps the real reason we tend to indulge is not just hunger — it’s celebration. After all, the origin of après stems from our European brethren who honed and sculpted the term, and then the adventurers who brought the tradition to the slopes and summits of America. Back then, après was actually a much more refined practice of ending long, cold days with warm spiked cider or mulled wine to unwind and warm up.

Not long after, après made its way to the hard-partying scene in the Alps, where it was molded into the institution of big parties, fancy clubs, and expensive alcohol. Sometimes after a big powder day on a weekend, the Mangy Moose in Teton Village resembles these parties of yore – or if you’re looking for something a little more mellow, the happy hour at Calico is right on the bus line back to town. And don’t forget the spicy margs at Spur, which will have you feeling like our hard-charging, hard-partying friends across the pond.

But just as the definition of “feat” in the Tetons spans a wide spectrum, so does the modern-day practice of après. For some, it means a beer after a long day, and for others, it means, well — many beers. But whether you’ve had a long day, short day, summited the Grand, or just skied off the tram for the first time, isn’t having fun all that really matters?

If our experiences are defined by people and moments, then the celebration that follows recreation in the mountains doesn’t need to be qualified by intensity of the activity or quantified by the amount of booze consumed. It is exactly what the Nordic men and women of the past meant it to be — a good drink with friends to rehash the day, and to refuel for all the adventures (big and small) to come.

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