Après-ski: What (and where) to drink in North Lake Tahoe

Is there anything better than ripping down the mountain on a powder day in Lake Tahoe? Actually, yes, I would argue there is something better: Après-skiing after a day ripping down the mountain on a powder day. Am I right or am I right?

But while an Irish Coffee or PBR is often the perfect après-ski choice, North Lake Tahoe has some great drinks that go beyond your token post-ski libation. Your Lake Tahoe après-ski sesh gets an upgrade with drinks like barrel-aged beers, the Dirty Snowman, Wet Woody, and Chupacabra. Below, discover 10 of the best North Lake Tahoe drinks (and where to drink them in North Lake Tahoe).

2013 Chalk Hill Malbec, Truckee River Winery. Yes, a winery. Located just off of downtown Truckee, Truckee River Winery features a wide-range of varietals, including the full-bodied 2013 Chalk Hill Malbec (Double Gold in 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition), using grapes from Sonoma’s Chalk Hill AVA. Truckee River Winery sources quality grapes from some of the best wine regions at what they call the “highest and coldest winery.” Furthermore, few experiences are better on a nice day than a glass of red and partaking in a game of bocce outside on one of the winery’s bocce courts.

Provisions Farmhouse Ale, Tahoe Mountain Brewing. While there are a number of breweries around Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Mountain Brewing is certainly one of the most unique, specializing in barrel-aged ales that have won multiple awards. Among my favorites is the Provisions Farmhouse Ale, one of their regulars, which is an easy drinking, grainy, saison. Among some of their other interesting beers is the apricot saison and Viejo Rojo lambic-style beer, both of which have won awards at the Great American Beer Festival. Tahoe Mountain Brewing’s tasting room and brewery is in Truckee, while they have a brewpub in Tahoe City.

The Dirty Snowman, the Village at Northstar. The Dirty Snowman is the drink of Northstar California. Served at the Cabana Bars at Northstar, this is an adult hot chocolate on steroids, featuring vanilla vodka, hazelnut liqueur, and topped with hot cocoa and finished with whipped cream. Yes, it’s that good, albeit dangerous. Best hot chocolate ever?

6330' Bloody Mary, Tavern 6330’. Narrowing down all of the great Bloody Mary cocktails around North Lake Tahoe to just one is easier said than done. But the 6330' Bloody Mary, located at Tavern 6330' in the Village at Northstar, is no ordinary Bloody Mary, but more like brunch in a glass. It uses local Lake Tahoe vodka, Tahoe Blue Vodka, and Northstar’s own secret dark Bloody Mary mix, and is then garnished with a snow crab leg (subject to availability), pepperoncini, stuffed olives, onions, celery stalk, and spicy pickled green beans.

S’moretini, The Living Room of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. A s’mores martini? Yes, please. The S’moretini is The Ritz-Carlton’s signature winter cocktail, inspired by their Marshmology experience (yes, that's totally a thing), where guests learn the art of s'mores around the resort's fire pit with their in-house Marshmologist (also a thing). This decadent après-ski treat features marshmallow vodka, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, and cream with a chocolate and graham cracker rim. Treat yourself! (Photo from The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe)

Apple Cinnamon Old Fashioned, Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Since the Old Fashioned is my favorite cocktail, it only seemed appropriate to include this take on a seasonal Old Fashioned from The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Served at The Ritz-Carlton’s restaurant, Manzanita, this Apple Cinnamon Old Fashioned takes the traditional Old Fashioned recipe and upgrades it with a brûléed apple and grated cinnamon. (Photo from The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe)

Apple Cinnamon Old Fashioned.jpg

Wet Woody, Gar Woods Grill & Pier. The Wet Woody is arguably the drink of Lake Tahoe. And this is evident as soon as you walk into Gar Woods Grill & Pier and are presented with a Wet Woody menu, listing more than 15 different variations of the extremely boozy drink. Most of the versions include a combination of different rums and liqueur, but the traditional version includes Peach Schnapps, light rum, and a float of Bacardi Black and Bacardi 151. In other words, you don't shoot a few of these back like PBRs. By and large, it’s a frozen drink that’s best enjoyed overlooking the lake on a warmer day. (Photo from Gar Woods)

Chupacabra, Caliente. The Chupacabra is to Caliente what the Wet Woody is to Gar Woods Grill & Pier. A cantina and tequila bar in Kings Beach, Caliente is famous for what is largely a tequila version of the Wet Woody, featuring a couple different types of tequila, rum, peach schnapps, and a combination of fruits. These are one-and-done après-ski cocktails. (Photo from Caliente)

Imperial Eclipse Stout, FiftyFifty Brewing. Beer connoisseurs unite! FiftyFifty Brewing, located in Truckee, has a long list of beers, but perhaps none as interesting, complex, and beloved as their award-winning Imperial Eclipse Stout. Aged in oak bourbon barrels, this smooth stout is like a fine whiskey that you sip on post-dinner or as a nightcap. Even if you don’t drink stout beers, you’ll probably find something you like at FiftyFifty, since any given time will typically have 10-15 beers on tap. (Photo from FiftyFifty Brewing Company)

Pale Ale, Alibi Ale Works. If you like the standard American craft beer styles, then look no further than Alibi Ale Works, where you’ll regularly find American craft beer staples like a pale ale, porter, and IPA, among many other beer styles. My favorite is the pale ale, an easy drinking pale ale that has some hop to it, but not like you’d find in many IPAs, for example. Weekdays are among the best nights at Alibi if you want a little nightlife with your après-ski, thanks to events like happy hour all night on Mondays, trivia on Tuesdays, and pop-up sushi on Wednesdays.

Southern born and bred, Spencer was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by himself for the first time at seven. While he continues to travel around the world in search for the best whiskey, Spencer now calls Reno home, where his search is for the best cocktail (and first tracks, naturally). He has written about travel, food, and drinks for a number of publications that have included the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Travel + Leisure, just to name a few. See a more candid version of Spencer on his website, whiskeytangoglobetrot.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.