The Best Bars in Aspen, Colorado

The Woody Creek Tavern is a lively, unpretentious place to grab a drink in the Aspen area
The Woody Creek Tavern is a lively, unpretentious place to grab a drink in the Aspen area | © Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Aspen, Colorado, may be famous for its world-class pistes, but this popular ski town certainly has a thriving après-ski scene, too. Celebrate an exhilarating day on the slopes with a toast or two at a local watering hole. From incredible happy hours to local beer and a hopping nightlife, these are the best bars in Aspen.

1. Eric’s Bar

Bar, Cocktails

Eric’s Bar attracts some of the hippest people in town. While the vibe is relaxed, with billiards and shuffleboard, the decor is modern, stylish and swanky. However, it’s the great selection of whiskey, scotch and bourbon that draws the crowds. There are also cocktails and more than a dozen beers on tap. Happy hour is extra happy – you might be lucky enough to find deals on pitchers of beer and liters of margaritas.

2. J-Bar

Bar, American

USA, Colorado, Aspen, interior of the J-Bar at the Jerome Hotel on Main Street
© Marc Bruxelle RF / Alamy Stock Photo

Inside the Hotel Jerome, J-Bar is an Aspen institution dating back to 1889. Today, it’s a high-end saloon-style lounge dishing up fancy pub fare (think short-rib tacos) and unique drinks, such as the bourbon-laced milkshakes. But like that milkshake, invented during Prohibition, this historic bar retains lots of original charm. Dark wood, tin ceilings and cozy, leather chairs make you feel like you’re in another world.

3. Aspen Tap

Brewery

Colorado is for beer lovers, and Aspen is no exception. Head to the laid-back gastropub Aspen Tap to try a variety of award-winning craft beers from the Aspen Brewing Company. A must-try is the Independence Pass Ale, named after the scenic pass that leads to Aspen. Order a flight, then pick your favorite to accompany a house-made sourdough pizza. Request a seat on the patio for the best table in the house.

4. Woody Creek Tavern

Bar, Cocktails

Inside this rustic, funky restaurant, you can find some of the best margaritas and local beer in Aspen, as well as some of the best Mexican food (try the enchiladas). Over the years, Woody Creek Tavern has been a celebrity hotspot. It was a hangout for actor Johnny Depp and gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson – see memorabilia and photos displayed throughout the restaurant. Join the legacy and get your picture taken with a Polaroid camera to hang on the wall. As such, the decor here is as eclectic as it gets.

5. Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails

For the perfect cocktail, visit Hooch. It’s a relaxed yet sultry location for a date night, with brick walls, glistening chandeliers and dim lighting. It feels like a speakeasy, built in the basement beneath the Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop, but it’s far from gimmicky. The drinks are made with high-quality ingredients, and the small bites don’t disappoint, with cheese boards, house-made sourdough with seasonal butter and even curry dishes. The details, both in flavors and decor, are what make Hooch stand out – that, and the balance between a chic atmosphere and welcoming service.

6. Ajax Tavern

Restaurant, Contemporary

You can’t beat the Ajax Tavern for après-ski, thanks to its indoor-outdoor mountainside location inside the Little Nell hotel resort. Watch skiers glide down the slopes from the sunny patio, or squeeze in some quality people-watching inside the tavern. The kitchen serves incredible yet unpretentious American and French food, such as a wagyu cheeseburger with truffle fries; lamb bolognese; and fresh oysters, shrimp and crab. It’s one of the most popular destinations in town for an end-of-day beer or cocktail, so be prepared to wait for a table.

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