A real Ski Bar
VAIL – Every night at midnight it snows at the Ski Bar in Vail Village.Powdery white soap flakes swirl and glisten in the black light before gently landing on the dance floor in the soundproof disco room – one of four party chambers at Vail’s newest bar. The winter aesthetic isn’t lost on any of the Ski Bar’s patrons, all who faithfully love the mountain lifestyle.Owners Sterling Bradbrook, Sid Towle and Greg Gunn, who took over the lease Oct. 1, wanted to build a real ski bar, an atmosphere they felt was missing since the Sundance Saloon in Lionshead closed down last March. It was easy for the three to express their passion for skiing. Bradbrook was a ski instructor for five years, Towle patrolled the mountain for four years and Gunn is currently in his seventh year as a ski patroller.”We wanted to turn it into a place where we feel comfortable,” said Bradbrook, who previously owned The Platzl in Vail Village. “It’s a ski bar. We cater to the people who work on the mountain.”Like the Sundance, Ski Bar offers a free keg every Thursday, and ski instructors receive “The Tip” – a free beer – every day. With four different connecting rooms, Bradbrook hopes to offer a little something for everyone.”The 30- to 55-year-old crowd is comfortable coming here to enjoy apres, as well as the young people,” Bradbrook said. “We have good champagne and high-end scotch and beers on tap. Since the Sanctuary closed, we’re the only bar with a dance floor.”
The main gameEntering on Bridge Street, an old wooden advertisement reading “Step Into A Winter Wonderland” greets patrons before descending down the stairs and into the Ski Bar. Next to it, a new-school flat screen TV airs big mountain ski footage, for those who just didn’t catch enough air on the slopes. A Foosball table and a second flat screen adds entertainment in the main room downstairs, along with ski artifacts – like maps, signs and photos – from antique stores and the owners’ personal collections. It’s perfect eye candy for the skiing obsessed.”We have an original Lionsway sign,” said Towle, pointing to the old wooden board.Everyone’s a VIP at the Ski BarThe main room leads into the “VIP” room (although anyone can come and go), which is the most homey spot in the bar. Wood floors, leather couches and a fireplace invite tired skiers to relax. A one-way mirror adds privacy, but allows people in the den to watch the party unfold in the main room.
Even Bradbrook’s mom is hanging loose in the VIP room. Above the fireplace is an old framed Life Magazine cover featuring Bradbrook’s mom skiing with some of her fellow Olympic teammates.Country on the rocksThe third room hosts a Belvedere vodka bar and a small stage for apres musicians Dave Perring (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Padgett (banjo) of The Laughing Bones to work their “insurgent country” magic. They play Wednesday-Saturday at 4 p.m. If they’re not playing, other musicians will be filling the room with tunes.”My dad was in a Johnny Cash cover band, so I grew up listening to him, The Everly Brothers, Willie Nelson,” Perring said. “Musically, we’re pretty much all over the place. We play bluegrass, Johnny Cash, old country, Wilco, Bryan Adams.”Disco nights
The fourth room is a soundproof dance room housing a third bar, disco ball, glow in the dark painted walls and resident DJ Rock City. (During apres, there’s also a ping pong table). The Ski Bar owners researched and brought out DJ Rock City (aka Brandon Joseph) from Detroit. Bradbrook said they wanted to find “a real DJ.”Joseph said it was a strange opportunity to be invited to come out and be a ski bum, but he loves snowboarding all day and deejaying at night. He spins everything from Top 40 to old school hip-hop to his own house remixes. He’ll be releasing his own album, “DJ Rock City On the Rocks,” soon at the Ski Bar. “I’m never the same,” Joseph said. “I’m the good-time supervisor. It’s about reading your crowd, playing what they want to hear. DJs make the mistake of playing what they want to hear. I play for the people.”DJ Rock City also owns a promotion company and specializes in light and sound. He’s the one that helps the snow fall at midnight – you can’t ask a ski-town DJ for a better effect than that.The Ski Bar beaconsLocated on Bridge Street in Vail Village in the old FuBar location next to
the Red Lion.Open seven days a week from 4 p.m.-close.Free keg on Thursdays, and live apres musicians Wednesday-Saturday.For more information, call 476-0360Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14640, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado