We admit it. When it comes to sports and sporting events most of us who live here in the valley are participants rather than spectators. We don’t spend stormy Sundays slurping down cheap beers and fried food while watching the NFL’s full slate of games because we’re too busy making powder laps on Chair Five.
However, given that the Vail Valley is a melting pot of all sorts of different people from all sorts of different places, there’s little doubt that plenty of us will root for our home team from time to time, especially if it hasn’t snowed for a while or if the stakes are high, like during the playoffs.
Because the NBA and NHL seasons are in full swing,March Madness is nearing its end and baseball season is on the horizon, we felt that it was only appropriate that we gave a nod to six local sports bars that you need to check out. These are the places to catch some action, cheer on your team of choice and be a spectator, even if only for an hour or two.
The Remedy, Vail Village
The TV in The Remedy at the Four Seasons is big. How big? It’s a 165-inch high-definition behemoth that brings the action right into your face. But we won’t blame you if you overlook the TV for the views. With floor-to-ceiling windows framing uninterrupted mountain vistas as well as an expansive patio illuminated by fire pits, The Remedy is not your father’s sports bar. The cocktail menu is as distracting as the views, featuring creative twists on classics as well as inventive concoctions like Hey Boo Boo ($14), which pairs Banks Rum with Velvet Falernum, blueberries, cardamom and egg whites. Game day deals include a $10 Remedy Burger special for Monday night NFL games and half price Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas on Sundays.
Altitude Bar and Grill, Vail Village
Located a bit off the beaten path in the Evergreen Lodge, the Altitude comes alive for NHL hockey, where it fills up with Avalanche and Red Wings fans. Of course, you can also catch basketball and football here, too, with a variety of games showcased on an array of over 19 TVs in a spacious, open setting with good sight lines and plenty of seating. The usual appetizer suspects (wings, chicken tenders and chips and salsa) are eclipsed by an excellent sandwich and burger menu. Try the Cuban ($13), a satisfying mix of slow cooked pork accompanied by ham, Swiss and pickles on an Amoroso roll, or build your own pizza (starting at $12) from an assortment of toppings. Best of all, the bar usually features deals for big games, especially for Broncos fans, including a recent promotion featuring a free shot and $8 pitchers of Coors for everyone wearing a Broncos jersey.
Vail Ale House, West Vail
This West Vail pub caters to locals and in-the-know tourists who seek out this slightly hidden watering hole on game days. With ample TVs and plenty of bar and table seating, there’s always a game on at the Vail Ale House and the menu, while slightly predictable pub fare (potato skins, anyone?). is complimented by an excellent selection of beers both draft and bottled and competent if not inventive mixologists. Trivia and open mic nights can compete with the on-screen sporting action: be prepared to cheer on your team with the sounds of local musicians jamming in the background.
The Gore Range Brewery, Edwards
One of the area’s oldest brewpubs, the Gore Range Brewery serves up a selection of seasonal and specialty beers. If you’re confused by the offerings or don’t have a favorite yet, try the Brewery Flight ($7), a sampling of any four beers from their selection. While the focus is on their own creations, including Pascal’s Porter, a rich and complex beer that pairs well with the kitchen's red meat offerings, the Gore Range always offers a few “guest taps” to choose from as well. Don’t like beer? That’s OK because – surprisingly for a brewery – the drink menu also includes a variety of craft cocktails, including the mouth-watering Kentucky Citrus Mule featuring vanilla orange infused whiskey paired with ginger beer and served in a copper mug. NFL game days feature $10 burgers and pizzas, ample fuel for every kickoff.
The Saloon, Minturn
The Saloon isn’t full of TVs like some of the other bars in the valley. But they do have a couple and they’ll most likely be tuned into ESPN or another sports channel when you show up. But what makes this Minturn staple one of the most venerable sports bars in the valley isn't a massive TV or a plethora of screens, it's the fact that more professional athletes have bellied up at the well worn bar here than probably all the other sports bars in the valley combined. The proof of this is liberally spread across the walls, with autographed photographs, posters and other priceless sports memorabilia creating a thick patina of authentic sports cred that few bars anywhere in high country can match. There are photos from all disciplines, from car racing to football to skiing and golf. In fact, this impressive collection keeps expanding, as some of the best athletes in the world continue to be drawn to The Saloon's authentic old west feel and hospitality, the free chips and salsa and some of the cheapest – and coldest – beer around.
BC Backcounty Wings, Minturn
Wings. OK, they’re maybe not exactly what you should eat every single night for dinner, but they sure are good as finger food for a game of football, baseball, hockey or whatever sport you’re watching. So, if you’re in the mood for sports and wings there’s probably no other place in the valley more accommodating than BC Backcountry Wings. This new Minturn restaurant/watering hole (home of Gourmet Cowboy catering) revolves around the art of wings, with four different heat levels spread across ten different flavors including mango Sriracha, bourbon honey mustard, Buffalo garlic, and raspberry habanero. Don’t care for wings? Don’t worry, the menu is rounded out by classics and soon-to-be classics that you just don’t see that often including Wisconsin cheese curds ($9) and bison jalapeno poppers ($12). But admit it, you’re here for the wings and the sports, which is why their “Every Game, Every Week” specials for Sunday and Monday NFL clashes (10 wings for $9 or 50 for $45 and $3 16-ounce Coors beers) will make you happy and leave you full.