There are pros and cons to situating a ski resort on National Forest land, but one of the biggest cons for Mt. Bachelor - that last call for food and alcohol coincides with the last chair at around 4 p.m. - can also be a huge pro. Since après ski up top lasts only a few minutes, local businesses all the way down the mountain and into town roll out some excellent happy hour options to lure in passers-by looking for post-play refreshments. Whether you're a vacationer or a local, a hungry winter sportsman or simply a bargain hunting day-drinker looking for a deal, there's après ski merriment to be found around every corner. Set yourself up with an appetite and a designated driver and embark on your very own après pub-crawl down the hill - a must for any winter in Bend. Here's one possible route, in geographical order:
at the Seventh
Your first après ski opportunity mid-decent on Century Drive is the Seventh Mountain Resort. The Rimrock Bar's roaring fire, comfy chairs and view of the ice skating rink outside create a classic après picture in every way. Though traditionally attracting more of a visiting crowd, locals should take note. The happy hour from 3-5:30 p.m. offers screaming deals. Dishes range from mac and cheese, beef spring rolls or a heaping pile of onion rings for $3 to a trio of tasty sliders for $4 to larger plates like buttermilk fried chicken and tempura shrimp and vegetables for $5. Portions are very generous. Throw in a $3 draft or glass of house wine and you can get a complete meal from one of Bend's respected kitchens for less that $10. 18575 SW Century Dr., 877-765-1501.
Cascade Lakes Lodge
A noted supporter of winter sports, host of the annual picture parties for Bachelor's season pass holders and conveniently located directly en route from the mountain, Cascade Lakes is easily the most logical spot to head after a long day on the slopes. From 4 to 6 p.m. during the week, appetizers including buffalo wings, crab and spinach dip and cheddar-ale fondue, are half price. The downstairs bar area with a selection of Cascade Lakes brews as well as a full bar, lively upstairs games room with pool tables and dart boards, heated outdoor patio and fireside dining room where families are welcome provide a spirited post-play environment for all outdoor enthusiasts. 1441 SW Chandler Ave., 388-4998.
You may not think of Baldy's - known to most every local for its outstanding, award-winning barbecue - when you're thinking après ski, but you should. From 2 to 5 p.m. you can get a selection of Baldy's signature dishes for pennies. Okay, a few hundred pennies, but for what you're getting, it feels like a steal. Smokehouse burger and fries for $4? Mini pulled pork sandwiches for $2? A dozen wings for $5? And there's much more, including a line-up of drink specials that bottoms out at $1.50 for a Miller High Life tall boy. A happy hour indeed. 235 SW Century Dr., 385-7427.
900 Wall's excellent happy hour may not be technically après ski, as it is offered year-round, but if you find yourself there from 3 to 6 p.m. in the winter it certainly feels that way. Festive and crowded with locals and visitors alike, it's one of my favorite places to warm up after a day out in the elements. Daily specialty cocktails and house wines are well selected, and everything I've sampled on the happy hour menu has earned high marks in both flavor and value. You can go upscale with a beautiful plate of beef carpaccio for $8 or grilled pork shoulder with tomato and arugula for $5 or keep it simple with a $5 pepperoni pizza or an $8 burger. Whichever way you go, it offers that feel of resort indulgence in the heart of downtown. 900 NW Wall St., 323-6295.