Sweet Basil hosts après event with Town of Vail: bell ringing, truffle fries and champagne

Sweet Basil will be serving the truffle fries at the event, and they also pass out complimentary cups on the street to passersby by each day.
Casey Russell |

While the bell ringing at 3 p.m. in Vail Village is a new tradition, some businesses are jumping right on board.

Sweet Basil, one of Vail’s oldest restaurants, is hosting a bell ringing après event with the Town of Vail at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Festivities start at 2:45 p.m., followed by the ceremonial bell ringing at 3 p.m. Sweet Basil will be serving up their truffle fries and champagne for anyone who’d like to toast another great day on the hill.

Vail Town Council members and Vail Mountain Senior Director of Resort Operations Jeff Babb will accompany Matt Morgan and the Sweet Basil crew for the bell ringing. The montly après events with the Town of Vail will continue on the 15th of each month – doesn’t matter what day of the week it is – and will alternate between spots in Vail Village and Lionshead.

Beth Howard, the current vice president and chief operating officer at Vail, came up with the idea to bring daily bell ringing, a tradition at European ski towns, back to Colorado.

“The sound of the bells signifies the start of something special, après ski: a time to celebrate the day on the mountain and in our villages. It creates the sense that we are all in this together, from Vail’s mountain to its villages,” Howard said in an email.

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Howard was also one of the people who first worked Beaver Creek cookie time, the beloved tradition at 3 p.m. each day. When she was the food and beverage director, she was approached by management to help mitigate long lift lines when a chair was down one morning in the 1990s. They decided to plate up some pre-packaged cookies and hand them out to skiers: now of course, the tradition has stuck and the cookies are homemade.

The Town of Vail hopped on board with Howard’s idea. While businesses can offer specials for the bell ringing tradition – Mountain Standard, also run by Morgan, offers shot-sized daquiris called “snaquiris” during après hours – the focus is definitely on community building.

“It’s more of a celebration and the creativity. It’s unique and it’s fun – just the word “snaquiris” is fun,” said Mia Vlaar, the Town of Vail’s economic development director. “It’s about the celebratory European tradition of taking people from the slopes, bringing them inside, you feel the warmth of the environment, there are people. And that’s what it’s really supposed to be about.”

Morgan is excited to be participating in the bell ringing, which made its debut on Vail Opening Day, Nov. 15, 2019.

“We started the bell ringing straight away,” Morgan said. “We do little complimentary cups of truffle fries to anybody walking by on the street. That’s kind of a community thing. It’s been great.”

Sweet Basil began the mystery wine game on Dec. 10 and started bell ringing on the first day, Nov. 15.
Casey Russell |

Sweet Basil also offers 50% off non-vintage bottles of Champagne during après hours, which are 3-4:30 p.m.. They also started a new après game on Dec. 10 where guests can guess a mystery wine. Each team playing receives a black wine glass and their server will pour the wine from a covered bottle. The glass is opaque, so guests can’t even tell if it’s a white or a red without using their sense of taste and smell.

So far, no one has correctly submitted the right answer, but Morgan and the bartender on duty Monday, Nick, said that they’d seen guests write the right answer on the provided card and erase it before turning it in. When someone does get it right, they get the bottle to enjoy with their meal at the restaurant. Once someone guesses it, Morgan said they’ll pick a new bottle to serve.

At Mountain Standard, in addition to the “snaquiris,” they also serve complimentary lactose-free hot chocolate outside at 3 p.m.

If you go …

What: Sweet Basil Bell Ringing Après Event

When: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2:45 p.m.

Where: Sweet Basil, Vail Village

Cost: Free truffle fries and champagne, with additional food and drink for purchase

More information: The Town of Vail will be hosting après events on the 15th of every month. Visit

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