Toddies and tabletops

From a quiet drink to late-night dancing, there's apres action to go around, writes Rachael Oakes-Ash.

Apres means "after" in French so it's no surprise the ski world adopted this five-letter word to describe what happens off the slopes. In Australia and New Zealand, "apres ski" covers everything from dancing with your ski boots on to hot toddies by an open fire to degustation dining with a snow-laden view.

Still in your ski gear

NSW Many a skier's season has ended at Kareela Hutte in Thredbo. With a sun deck overlooking the Supertrail piste and the best food on Thredbo Mountain, it is possible to imbibe from lunchtime until last lift – the only trouble is you have to ski down when you're done. See

VICTORIA Ski in and stumble out of Mo's at Feathertop Lodge at Falls Creek, with their daily Beck's, Bubbles and Oysters from 4.30-5.30pm. For $29 you'll get a dozen oysters fresh from South Australia and a Beck's or bubbles. See

NEW ZEALAND Those in the know at Cardrona on the South Island head to the Cardrona Hotel, in the nearby village at the bottom of the access road, for mulled wine in the courtyard around an outside fire. See

A little more conversation

NSW The Piano Bar at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel is pure old-school apres with a roaring fire and the tinkling of ivories. Makes for cosy people watching as the local "seasonaire clique" settle in for apres-work drinks. See

VIC Herbie's cocktail bar at Pension Grimus has a reputation. Correction, owner Hans Grimus has a reputation. Prop up a stool at the hotel bar from 4pm and expect to be serenaded with tales of hilarity of seasons gone by from Mount Buller's most famous Austrian resident. Stick around for dinner and Hans will ensure you are well lubricated with random schnapps. See


NZ If you time it right at Forest Lodge in Methven, the access village to Mount Hutt, you could be clinking beer glasses with the Austrian ski team, who train on the mountain every August. The Kiwi bar owner, Ian McLean, is a former coach of the team and they ply him with potent schnapps brought from home. In turn he plies his customers, so make sure you line your stomach with some good schnitzel from the menu. See

Dance on tables

NSW Bernti's tapas bar has been known to put on quite a show as the shots go down in Thredbo but the Schuss Bar is hands down, or up, known for its caution-to-the-wind-style partying. Both are blown out of the water at the Station, near Jindabyne, when Ministry of Sound, the Herd and Jimmy Barnes come to town. See

VIC Make a note, we'll only say this once. If you think tables are made for dancing, not dining, then Oishii-Go! at Silverski in Falls Creek and the General at Mount Hotham have your name on them. We would say the Kooroora Hotel at Mount Buller but it's hard to remove one's feet from the sticky floor. See, and

NZ When the muzak starts pumping at Bardeaux in Queenstown, it's hard not to stand on the bar – if they would let you (they don't). The same goes for the Projection Room in Ohakune at Mount Ruapehu on the North Island, where turntables are a regular feature. See and

Eating is not cheating

NSW Do not pass Credo in Thredbo, a dining institution only rivalled by the Terrace Restaurant at the Denman Hotel. Both have extensive wine lists, top-notch chefs and local produce. Credo has a view to dine for but the Denman has a chef with serious Level 41-style credentials. See and

VIC Summit Ridge at Falls Creek wins awards for a reason; Tsubo at Dinner Plain is a slice of pure Japan; and Drakes Restaurant at Mount Buller should be kept a secret, so we can get a booking. See and

NZ Few restaurants in New Zealand's snowfields come close to matching Amisfield. Yes, it's part of a winery, which gets our vote, and yes, it's kid-friendly without losing style and ambience. Open 11.30am-8pm only, it's possible to ski all day then pop in for a leisurely "drunch" – dinner and lunch (or is that drunken lunch?). See

One-stop apres shop

In a word? Queenstown. If you spend more time in the bar than on the slopes, then this is the place for you. With 130-odd licensed establishments in one square kilometre, it takes a good week to complete a bar crawl that will no doubt see your liver in hospital. Most places are found within picturesque pedestrian-only laneways and alleyways that reveal underground bars, terrace restaurants, rooftop dancing and more. See

Cocktail heaven

NSW The Denman Hotel Apres Bar in Thredbo is appropriately named. This intimate bar in the basement of the stylish Denman Hotel serves up apres high tea and urban cocktails from 4-6pm, when the resident mixologist shows off his wares. Think hot liquored teas with sides of coconut milk or a Denman Collins, a blend of Bombay Sapphire, Paraiso and Sheibel liquor with lychees and lemon. See

VIC Astra Lodge in Falls Creek is known for its vodkas, all 70 of them, with some absinthe remedies on the side. Enough said. See

NZ The best lychee martinis in town are found upstairs at the Bunker in Queenstown. In a destination dedicated to after-dark cocktails and seasonal workers, it is good to know that one bar is consistent when it comes to delivering quality cocktails every time. See

Happy hour

NSW The Schuss Bar in Thredbo has a 4-5pm happy hour daily, with live music nightly. We'd tell you more but we don't remember. See

VIC It's best to draw a map to your hotel on your hand before entering the Happy Harvey Hour at the Falls Creek Hotel on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because you are unlikely to remember much by the time you leave. Harvey Wallbangers are on tap from 3.30pm, serving up a lethal mix of vodka, Galliano and orange juice, with a side order of live music. See

NZ The Buffalo Club in Queenstown has not one but two happy hours – 5-6pm then again at 10-11pm. Start with one and stay for the other. Phone +64 3 442 4144.

You know it's late when ...

If you find yourself at any of these establishments past closing time then you have stayed out too long. Try the Keller at Thredbo, Happy Jacks Tavern in Jindabyne, the General in Hotham, the Man in Falls, the Kooroora in Mount Buller, Surreal or Tardis in Queenstown, Shooters in Wanaka, the Keg in Ohakune and Steelworx in Methven.

Mocktails, anyone?

NSW Perisher Blue has an apres program just for kids, so while the parents are enjoying a tipple at happy hour, junior is enjoying a movie and popcorn night at the Snow Discovery Centre on Thursdays. See

VIC Hmm, six flavours of hot chocolate. The Loft Bar at the Breathtaker All Suite Hotel and Alpine Spa Retreat has a kids' movie zone so the kids can kick back while Ma and Pa take in a hot chocolate, liqueur optional. See

NZ Take an apres ski soak with the kids in the outdoor heated rock pools at the Grand Mercure Oakridge Resort in Wanaka, safe in the knowledge a New Zealand wine is but a hand-wave away at the Poolhouse Restaurant and Bar. See