Happy Hours and the Economic Side of Aspen Bars
It’s kind of crazy that straight out of college I came to Aspen, a town with a standard of luxury so esteemed that it has almost become a joke. Dumb and Dumber. Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, snow bunnies, celebrities, etc.
When I graduated from school, my parents scratched their heads. Well first because they were like “why the fuck are you going to print lift tickets for almost minimum wage when we just spent 60 k a year for you to get an education?” Then they were like, “you’re gonna have no money and live in Aspen?”
Well I had some friends out here when I first arrived and I think before they even said welcome they were showing me all of the happy hour deals around town. First of all I’d like to say that back home in Massachusetts we are not legally allowed to have happy hour. I guess something about the Irish, angry sports fans, and encouraged binge drinking at cheaper costs doesn’t quite flow smoothly.
Anyway on my first day here, my friend Emily led me down the streets of Aspen past Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores and pointed out where I was going to have to eat to get by out here. The place that I became attached to immediately was Zane’s Tavern. From 4-6 PM, Zane’s Tavern features 50 cent wings. Now I’m a big eater. A fifteen dollar burger with no fries ain’t gonna cut it when you’re working with my budget. Here you can get a dozen wings for 6 bucks. All you have to do is buy beer. Split a pitcher of PBR if you’re pressed for cash, and eat as many wings as you want. Zane’s over in Snowmass has a similar wing deal, but they also sell corn dogs, which is big.
Snowmass Village is often overlooked for food options. Slow Groovin’ BBQ has great BBQ nachos, sandwiches, and cheap draft beer (read our review of Slow Groovin’ in Marble). Venga Venga can be pricy, but during happy hour they have great nachos, tacos, and prickly pear margaritas. Side note about prickly pear cacti: allegedly they can cure hangovers if you drink the juice a few hours before you start consuming alcohol. A few years ago, I called up a cactus ranch in Arizona and had them ship some prickly pear juice to me in Colorado Springs. It was only enough for one night, but I didn’t get a hangover the next day, so consider buying some. Anyway, the last place I have to mention in Snowmass Village is the New Belgium Ranger Station. During happy hour 3-6 pm they have $5 New Belgium IPA’s and $9 chili nachos that can definitely be split between two people. Also Trivia on Tuesday nights is an awesome time.
Back in Aspen there’s Hops Culture, a spot with an almost overwhelming selection of beer. Can be kind of pricy for the millennial; however, when happy hour rolls around from 3-6 pm, it’s a whole new ballgame. Beer and a shot for 7 bucks is a great way to start the night after a day of skiing or hiking. If you’re hungry and pressed for cash, I recommend picking up some loaded fries, which are simply fries loaded with bison chili, for only 6 dollars. These things could feed a family of four normal people or like two male teenagers. It’s a lot of food and it’s delicious.
Want to get drunk early? Let’s go to Justice Snow’s for a tall boy PBR and a shot for 5 dollars. That’s north of four drinks for ten dollars. On top of that, they have some delicious burgers complemented with sweet potato fries if you need to get some food in you between drinks.
Looking for a little more class? Head to Hooch, as classy as a basement bar can be. 5-7 PM they sell 3 dollar beers and, most importantly, 5 dollar delicious ‘pick your poison’ mules. I go with mescal mules.
Mi Chola features some of the higher class Mexican food in town, providing chips and salsa with meals and some good deals on margaritas and tacos during happy hour.
Almost every bar and restaurant in town has some sort of happy hour offering, just be aware they may end a little earlier than you may want so be sure to get there early. These are just some of my favorite spots, but I can be closed-minded, so please try some other ones and let me know how great they are.
If you’re looking for some cheap-ish fun at night, then head over to the Red Onion. Some of the cheapest draft beer options around, and it’s an extremely popular local spot. If you’re lucky, and it’s Monday night, you may catch me hunched over a guitar butchering some Jerry Garcia lyrics [but rocking out] in the corner of the bar. This is a typical starting point for many younger locals.
Monday nights head over to Rhino’s for some Karaoke. They also have shuffleboard and video games. I like to play “Big Game Hunter’s”. Also has a solid happy hour with $5 food and drink specials.
Another popular late night spot is Eric’s. They have $3 PBR’s if you pay cash, so bring cash. Also there are pool tables and a cool cigar bar with couches. 50 cent cigarettes at the bar. Cigarettes are bad for you, but if I’ve had a few drinks it’s pretty nice.
After Eric’s, head over to Bootsy Bellows or Escobar’s for some club-style dancing. The drinks are pricier, but you can always run back to Eric’s for some cheaper drinks.
At first glance, this town will drain your wallet dry. Yet, if you have some degree of discipline about your eating and drinking, you can eat great food and have plenty to drink within budget.
Stay tuned for more, including First Fridays in Carbondale”, “Best Bar Menus” and “Best Restaurant Specials”.