Why is it that booze goes down so much smoother after a day on the hill?
And why does all that smooth booze go down even smoother when you're at the right mountain bar? Sometimes the right atmosphere makes it go down so silky smooth that getting up the next morning -- or even afternoon -- is sandpaper rough.
So if last call is more your style than first lift, after the fold is yours truly's favorite ski-town bars in the West...
10. Canyon Inn, Salt Lake City, Utah
Not that there's a grand variety of apres-ski/'board places on Salt Lake City's east side, but the Canyon Inn fits the bill nicely. The longstanding bar has a little something for everybody: cheap beer, good pizza, college nights ("Muscles 'n' Mascara"), cougar nights, pool tables, a big dance floor, and solid happy hour specials. 3200 E. 7200 S., Salt Lake City, UT; 801-942-9801.
9. Gold Pan Saloon, Breckenridge, Colorado
Said to be the longest continuously operating tavern west of the Mississippi -- they apparently ignored Prohibition in Breck, setting a nice precedent for today's legal weed -- the Gold Pan is hard to beat to get started on your post-slope carousing in the Kingdom. The place opened in 1979 as the Herman Strauss Saloon and has served the masses under several different monikers in the time since, but other than the name, not much has changed at this whiskey-drenched locals' watering hole, old school in every regard. 103 N. Main St., Breckenridge, CO; 970-453-5499.8. Tourist Club, Truckee, California
There are both animal heads and pictures of naked people on the walls at the venerable Tourist Club, which compels me to drink in ways the wine bars and casinos ringing Lake Tahoe simply can't fathom. (Namely, on Tuesday nights PBR drafts start at 50 cents at 9 p.m. and edge up 50 cents every hal-hour thereafter.) The T Club is now a diamond in the rough, featuring a rough but friendly vibe, pool tables, live music and of course animal heads and naked people on the wall. 10010 Donner Pass Rd., Truckee, CA; 530-587-7775.
7. Silver Moon Brewing, Bend, Oregon
This is former Bend mayor Bob Woodward's favorite bar (no, not that Bob Woodward), and as usual Bob is right on the mark. One of only two brewpubs on my list, the Silver Moon offers good beer, tasty grub, live music, pool, and a cozy, friendly atmosphere that is somewhere near the opposite pole of chichi. 24 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend, OR; 541-388-8331; www.silvermoonbrewing.com.
6. The Goat Soup & Whiskey Tavern, Keystone, Colorado
Mentioning both soup and whiskey in its name is an awesome start, sure, but the Goat is a near-perfect ski-town bar for several other reasons. Chief among them: the $1 PBR pints and a stage known for jammy and bluesy musical entertainment as well as open-mic nights. Then there's the $4 PBR pitchers if you're exceptionally thirsty, or else with a group of similarly thirsty individuals. What's not to like? While the menu does not have goat's head soup, the jukebox probably does, and a location near the lifts doesn't hurt one bit either. 22954 U.S. 6, Keystone, CO; 970-513-9344; www.thegoattavern.com. 5. Mangy Moose Saloon, Teton Village, Wyoming
Not unlike the Goat, the Mangy Moose is another legendary ski-village bar with all of the fixings: booze, grub, live music, and a name based on a local horned animal. But the Moose, a Jackson Hole tradition since 1969, gets the next spot up the list for going further, with a sit-down restaurant and a cafe to temper its rowdier barroom. Plus, it's got all manner of junk stuck on the walls -- including a moose head or three. 1395 Teton Village Dr., Teton Village, WY; 307-733-4913; www.mangymoose.net.
4. The Eldo, Crested Butte, CO
"A sunny place for shady people," the venerable Eldo brews its own beer and has its own in-house BBQ joint, so you won't go home sober or hungry. Happy hour is 3 to 8 p.m. daily, with $3.50 pints of such tasty libations as Snowblind Maibock or Abominable Strong Ale, and he stage features DJs and live music Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Best of all are Tuesday "Bad Beer Nights" when cheap swill is even cheaper. 215 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, CO; 970-349-6125; www.eldobrewpub.com.
3. Minturn Saloon, Minturn, Colorado
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.