Reporting Jay Lloyd
From the Poconos to the Rockies and beyond, when it’s time to rack up the skis and snowboards, it’s also time to thump into the nearest ski bar, snatch the knit hat off your head and dispatch a tangle of hair. And you don’t care. The ski bar is the only sippery where glamour doesn’t matter – where you can sit back, mellow out, brag, boast and just feel on top of the world. After all, you just tamed a mountain! Of course, ski bars have personalities that fit the mood. Let’s find yours as we go pub crawling though some of Pennsylvania’s most popular. – Jay Lloyd
Jack Frost Mountain
Yarns of glade skiing and spectacular wipeouts launch the conversations at E-2000. From its perch 2,000 feet above sea level overlooking the Jack Frost lifts, E-2000 is a lively bar and lounge that throbs with entertainment on weekends and offers a chill-out atmosphere midweek. Often, the dance floor stays busy, as skiers and riders ditch the boots and move around the boards on their stocking feet. Bartenders here are as quick with the quips as they are with the taps, and everyone is welcome to join the chatter. Overall, E-2000 is a good place to make new friends.
THE THIRSTY CAMEL
The Thirsty Camel is the big, brassy bar tucked into the Camelback Mountain base lodge. The crowd here is young and vibrant. A New York/Philadelphia entourage gathers here on Friday nights and the bar serves as a “mingle place” for the entire weekend. For many at The Thirsty Camel, the bar scene is the attraction – skiing and riding is the bonus. Top local bands perform day and night from Friday through Sunday weaving sounds that span the gamut from pop to rock to country. With skiing under the lights, the Thirsty Camel stays open until well after the lifts stop running.
Want a quiet pub-like atmosphere to spark an après ski romance? Camelback’s Glen Lodge is the spot, and it offers great smoked meats, too. Ski over from the “Raceway” run-out.
Bear Creek Mountain Resort
The Grille — with its long, rich mahogany bar, warming fireplace lounge and well placed flat screen TV’s — is the perfect ski bar for sports enthusiasts who want to catch the “Big Game” between runs or after the skis and boards are racked. Skiing at Bear Creek goes into the night and so does the Grille. This spot is a comfortable setting for an intimate drink, a group celebration or just for meeting other skiers and riders at a friendly pub where you can also fuel up on some of the best mountain burgers and crispy fries. Weekend entertainment channels the transition between slope life and nightlife.
Cathedral ceilings and picture windows offering a slopeside vista give the Winter Garden restaurant bar at Elk Mountain an open, airy feeling that’s as big as the hill. In late afternoon, Winter Garden becomes a magnet for close knit groups of skiers coming off the Elk Mountain trails. If you’re an occasional visitor, you won’t be a stranger for long, and there’s a good chance you’ll spot someone you’ve met before — it’s that popular. Weekend entertainment keeps many of the regulars around for dinner, whether at the restaurant or for bar munchies that arrive from an ambitious kitchen.
LAST RUN LOUNGE
At Blue Mountain, you have more quaffing choices than a Brooklyn block, but I usually head to the Last Run Lounge, which is set on the upper deck in the summit lodge. If you go for a lounge table, there’s a crackling fireplace nearby. At the bar, the TV screens often project ski flicks to keep the mountain mood going. The chatter can range from today’s great runs to politics. The conversation is wide open and braced by a variety of both familiar and craft beers. The bar goes well into the night, as skiers cruise and ride under the lights. Race nights bring out some of the most lively crowds.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort
When a mellow mood settles in and you’ve got romance on your mind (along with a day on the slopes, of course!), the spot to wind down and let cocktail hour flow into a leisurely candlelit dinner is Helen’s. This is the premier restaurant and lounge at Pennsylvania’s most complete winter resort, Seven Springs in Somerset County. It’s a long way to go just to linger over some wine, but this top tier eatery and piano bar is worth the trip. Set in the heart of the Alleghany Mountains at the base of the Seven Springs ski area, Helen’s offers a view of the mountain, a rustic and intimate setting and music that channels that mood. Expert mixology and an impressive wine list smooth the transition from drinks to white tablecloth dining.