Raising the Bar
WELCOME TO “POWER HOUR,” THE HOLY GRAIL AT SKITOWN BARS WHERE YOU CAN EAT LIKE A KING AND PAY LIKE A PAUPER.
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