Editor’s Note: Originally written by Feet Banks in 2017, we’ve updated this post adding new places, tips and photos – cheers!

It’s been a long time coming but the sunny days of spring seem to have finally arrived (not that we will ever complain about the endless, bottomless winter we’ve had). And to celebrate the arrival of Whistler’s most festive season The Insider is taking another good hard look at one of this town’s most storied, honoured and favourite traditions: après.

An aerial view of Whistler Village in the spring.
A village built with après in mind. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Après is that special block of time in between the day’s activities and the night’s festivities. It’s both a celebration of accomplishments and a preparation for success. How you après, where you après, and with whom you après can say a lot about a person and make or break any ski vacation.

With that in mind, here is the Insider’s Guide to Whistler Après.

The Cool Kids

HandleBar is a small spot at the base of Blackcomb in the Upper Village that flies a bit under the radar but has a loyal, local following. There are no bottles in this joint, just beer (and wine) on tap and management has decided to do away with the ubiquitous flatscreen TVs that plague almost every other public drinking space in North America. At the HandleBar, it’s all about human interaction – celebrating friendships, making connections and enjoying a frosty beverage or slice of pizza. They also have a pretty skookum patio space that has been underutilized…until now.

Handlebar Cafe in Whistler
A fresh look, and a juicy craft beer list. HandleBar Cafe and Après in Whistler’s Upper Village.

Also nestled in the Upper Village, RMU Blackcomb is part cafe, part bar, part store. With an array of locally crafted beers, local musicians playing, walls of cool ski and adventure gear and a good patio, this is another solid, après option.

The Veteran – Dusty’s Bar & Grill, Creekside

Dusty’s has been hosting epic Whistler après since the first skis slid down the slopes and it always feels good to tap into that history with a group session at this historic Creekside spot. The Dusty’s Caesar (garnished with beef Jerky) is legendary. Bonus points if you hit Dusty’s when Whistler legends The Hairfarmers are playing but every day is a party.

(Lesser-known fact: Dusty was also the name of a stuffed horse that “lived” in the bar throughout most of the 1980s. You can still see Dusty on the bar’s logo.)

If you love Caesar’s, check out our blog post dedicated to this legendary drink, A Whister Tour-de-Caesar: The Geat Canadian Cocktail.

The Big Guns – GLC and The Longhorn

Hear music as you ski down to the Village? That’s the Garibaldi Lift Company and/or the Longhorn Saloon & Grill. These two places, located on the snow at the base of the Whistler and Blackcomb Gondolas, are the gold standard for North American après, no one does it better.

These two patios make après dreams come true day after day after day after day. The drinks flow, the food nourishes, the music bumps, the staff are top-notch and we literally know over 15 people who have met their husband / wife après-ing at one of these two spots. They each have their own flavour though, so try both and see which suits you best.

Friends enjoy apres at the Longhorn Saloon in Whistler.
Less than 30 seconds from the slopes. PHOTO ABBY COOPER

The Underdog – Merlin’s Bar & Grill

Technically only an underdog because it sits at the bottom of only one giant ski hill (Blackcomb, in the Upper Village), Merlin’s is off the beaten path enough that it might party harder than anyone. The Hairfarmers have a residency here, the DJ plays in a hanging gondola cabin, the whole joint is named after a Wizard…. and the patio is enormous.

Special accolades to Merlin’s (and all Whistler Blackcomb bars) for doing away with plastic straws in every drink they serve. Plastic is a huge toxic pollution problem globally and by doing away with straws Merlin’s is hoping to keep 98,000 straws (or 20km/12 miles) worth of plastic out of our landfills and waterways each season. Kudos! (and if you really need a straw, staff will provide a compostable one on request).

Hairfarmers playing at Merlins Apres
Merlin’s, with the Hairfarmers entertaining the crowd. MIKE CRANE PHOTO

The Out of the Way-ers

Après is arguably the best part of the day so the popular spots can get busy. Luckily, anyone seeking a mellower, quieter après experience need only walk a few steps further and explore Whistler Village. The Amsterdam hosts a fun après (not exactly quiet but it’s easier to find a seat), so does the Beacon Pub & EateryEarls Kitchen + Bar, Stonesedge, Brickworks and down in Creekside, Southside Diner, Cure Lounge and Roland’s Pub. These joints offer a fully functional and enjoyable après, but it will be easier to get a table.

Read about some of these and more in Hidden Gems of Whistler’s Apres Scene.

A bartender makes a Caesar cocktail at the Stonesedge Kitchen in Whistler.
Caesars at Stonesedge. PHOTO KARINA ERHARD

The Boutique Options

Après is universal in Whistler so you can customize the experience any way you like. The Dubh Linn Gate offers live music with an Irish twist, the Bearfoot Bistro serves oysters and cheese fondue in the Champagne Lounge, Araxi cocktail bar is an upscale, central spot for civilized après (they also have some of the best espressos in town).

A woman is amazed by a smokey cocktail on the patio of Araxi in Whistler.
Incredible cocktail reveals for an après experience. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Bar Oso by Araxi offers a pleasant après with windows facing the stroll so you can check out the latest mountain fashions. For more tips on board-based eating, read The Art of Charcuterie in Whistler. There are no rules with Whistler après, so choose your own adventure.

The Hotels

There’s a certain charm to a hotel lounge, a sense of style and class. At the base of Blackcomb, The Mallard Lounge (in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler) is well known for its sophisticated après featuring a big fireplace and some of the best-mixed drinks in town. Down the street, Braidwood Tavern at the Four Seasons has a great lineup of craft beers, cool cocktails and a funky, cabin vibe.

Three colourful margaritas sit in a line, part of the Margarita Flight at the Four Seasons Whistler.
A flight of margaritas at the Braidwood Tavern. PHOTO FOUR SEASONS RESORT & RESIDENCES

Hidden inside the Pan Pacific Village Centre, The Raven Room is an uber cool place to go for an incredible craft cocktail and is owned by two, young, local couples. And out at Nita Lake Lodge, Cure Lounge offers the only après in Whistler with lakeside views.

On-Mountain Après

Who says you have to be in the valley to après? The après hangout spot on-mountain is the Umbrella Bar, located outside the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain which means it’s accessible to skiers and sightseeing visitors alike. Take some laps or upload, enjoy the views and grab a seat in the bar which boasts some of the best views at Whistler Blackcomb.

patio with mountain views behind it
The Umbrella Bar, Whistler Mountain. Remember to always ski or sightsee responsibly. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

There are pretty incredible sundecks on at both the Whistler Roundhouse, Blackcomb’s Rendezvous and the Glacier Creek Lodge on Blackcomb (which will also often feature real DJs spinning 45rpm vinyl). Seppo’s, in the Roundhouse is a Whistler institution and the perfect place for “First Après” and the aforementioned Umbrella Bar on the other side of the Roundhouse has top-notch views. (Just remember, never ski or ride impaired, the gondolas are always there for a safe download!)

INSIDER TIP: Make sure to check the dining and restaurant guide for opening days, hours and seasonal closures.

Self-Guided Whistler Craft Beer Tour

If you like your brews then take a look at the Craft Beer tour on the free Go Whistler Tour app. It features nine suggestions of where to get locally-made, craft beer.

Got you stoked for spring? It’s going to be a blast – come and join the fun. For more information on après check out the interactive map, or visit Whistler.com for more après venues.

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Author

Feet Banks moved to Whistler at age 12 so his parents could live the dream and ski as much as possible. He ended up living it too. After leaving home Feet did a few good stints in warmer climates and 4 years of writing school before returning to the mountains to make ski movies, hammer out a journalism career and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle as long as possible. He’s been a hay farmer, a hole digger, a magazine editor and has a jump named after him on Blackcomb Mountain, Feet’s Air. It’s tiny.