Rais­ing the Bar


SKI - - TRAVEL - By Su­san Reifer Ryan

A Blonde Ne­groni is no run-of-the-mill apr•s-ski drink, par­tic­u­larly not when it’s per­fectly crafted and costs only $6. Ditto a Mex­i­can Fir­ing Squad—also just six bucks—built from small-batch a–ejo, freshly squeezed lime, craft bit­ters, and house-made grena­dine. The food is a step above yet good value, too. A burger of pas­ture-raised wagyu topped with wine-caramelized onions and duck fat aioli comes in at $10, in­clud­ing a side of hand-cut fries.

Granted, Cop­per Com­mon is no run-of-the-mill apr•s-ski spot. It’s not at the foot of Alta’s lifts, where I spent the day zoom­ing and glid­ing with a pack of friends, but steps from my down­town Salt Lake City ho­tel. Fans come for its art­ful mixol­ogy, good food, and funky soul sound­track whether they’ve been ski­ing or not.

The fare at Cop­per Com­mon, though, isn’t usu­ally this

restau­rants serv­ing “top-of-the-line food” in ski towns and be­yond have em­braced the happy-hour model, mar­ry­ing the con­cepts of tast­ing menus and early-bird din­ing. “They’re show­cas­ing their food, look­ing to draw a crowd in times that are tra­di­tion­ally soft.” Many pair it with pours from the new wave of craft brew­ers, vint­ners, dis­tillers, and mixol­o­gists, also at value prices.

The most ap­pe­tiz­ing of these deals are rarely found at the loud­est, beeri­est, après-ski spots at the very foot of slopes, though. Look past the moun­tains of na­chos to the lit­tle char­cu­terie place around the cor­ner, per­haps, or the roomy fine din­ing restau­rant that doesn’t fill un­til 7 p.m., or a nice ho­tel’s cushy lounge. Or, take your pick from the list above. cheap. The stan­dard charge for its spe­cialty cock­tails is $9 to $14, and for the burger is $13. If I were in Santa Mon­ica with my best friend Gina, nab­bing such pre­mium eats and drinks at value prices would be a “happy hour” deal. But this is Utah, one of 12 states where happy hour is il­le­gal. So don’t call this happy hour, OK? Call it Tues­day at Cop­per Com­mon.

For many, happy hour con­jures images of sug­ary, two-forone well drinks and plat­ters of greasy wings. My pal Gina, how­ever, in­tro­duced me to to­day’s new­est wave of qual­ity happy hours, where bet­ter bars and restau­rants of­fer clever and de­li­cious food and drink at a frac­tion of the nor­mal price for a lim­ited win­dow of time on a reg­u­larly sched­uled ba­sis. “In ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, high-end happy hours are very com­mon,” says the Avant-Guide In­sti­tute’s Daniel Levine, a trends ex­pert. It’s a value propo­si­tion with epi­curean ap­peal.

But is it a thing in the ski world? You bet. From Aspen to Whistler, power-hour pric­ing in­cludes eats rang­ing from truf­fle fries and hand-tossed piz­zas to fresh oys­ters, ar­ti­sanal cheese boards, prime rib slid­ers, blis­tered shishito pep­pers and even smoked trout with olive tape­nade on wal­nut-raisin toast.

As foodie cul­ture has mush­roomed, Levine ex­plains, more

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