The thrill of flying downhill, utterly in the moment. The bracing air. The warmth of the sun. The magnificent vistas.
Of all the rewards offered by a day on the slopes, one of the best comes at the end in the form of après ski. What could be better than gathering with fellow skiers in front of a roaring fire, reliving the day’s activities while enjoying an adult beverage and contemplating a hearty meal?
But what if you haven’t been able to get away to the slopes? What if (shudder) you don’t actually like to ski? Should you be deprived of all of that? We think not.
Here are some tips on how to throw an après ski party that will make you and your friends feel like you’re on top of the world.
First, the table itself. If you have a rustic wood table, or even a picnic table, this is a great time to put it to use. If not, cover the table in a rustic checked cloth. For a more casual ambience, use the table as a buffet and let people gather where they will. Set pillar candles on the table.
If you have a fireplace, by all means use it. To mimic that ski lodge feel, prop sports equipment around the room. A set of ski poles here, a pair of skis there. Posters of your favorite mountains or a monitor running ski footage from YouTube add to the theme. Place additional candles around the room to create a cozy glow. Ask your guests to dress for the slopes. And if you’re worried that everyone could be a little warm in their ski clothes, you could always turn off the heat.
Beer and wine, while appropriate for any gathering, create a special beverage for the evening. Hot mulled wine will take the chill off any evening and can easily be kept warm in a crockpot. Irish coffee is also a good choice because you can keep the coffee hot in a thermal carafe.
The best of après ski food is hearty and rooted in tradition. Although chili is a perennial favorite, we favor fondue with its Swiss heritage. Yes, you will need a fondue pot and skewers or fondue forks, but don’t worry. The new versions are stylish and available from a wide range of retailers at a variety of price points.
Here’s a recipe for cheese fondue that’s deceptively simple, but so delicious.
Cheese Fondue Recipe
12 ounces shredded Emmentaler cheese (about 5 cups)
12 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 5 cups)
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 medium garlic clove, halved
1½ cups white wine
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
Chunks of bread, asparagus spears, broccoli florets, sliced peppers, green beans, salami chunks
Toss the cheese with the flour. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic. Pour the wine into the pot and heat until it simmers. Add the cheese a handful at a time, being sure to stir until it’s melted and smooth after each addition. Add the kirsch and stir. Keep warm over low heat.