Mountain Spirits

It is many people’s opinion that whilst snowsports are the principal reason for going on a skiing holiday, the après-ski activities come a close second. For a lot people, après-ski is anything from loud, riotous live bands in dark bars, to sophisticated meals on or off the mountain. However, there is a common theme to these activities: the booze. From 80 proof digestifs to mulled wine, there is an huge lot of choice when choosing your tipple; this blog is going to take a shot at exploring these options.

We will start with the after dinner favorite; Génépi. This liqueur made by steeping a variety off wormwood called Artemisia in pure grain alcohol, it is these flowers which gives it its distinct flavor and colour, and the addition of alpine flowers (that only blossom at high altitude) called  musk milfoil – the flower you will often see floating in a bottle of the dusty bottle of Génépi to be found somewhere in a cupboard at home, that a relative brought back for you as a souvenir. This liqueur is the perfect end to a traditional Savoyarde raclette or cheese fondu!


Mulled Wine, Vin Chaud or Glüwein, call it what you want but most agree that an orange garnished glass of spiced, warming goodness is the perfect on the slopes tipple after a few runs, then again a few runs later. Cinnamon, orange and just right amount of sweetness turns a perfectly acceptable glass of wine into a spine tingling, belly warming glass of perfection.

When I think of Savoyard products, I think about Raclette, Saussison, Tomme. I don’t think of wine. However the Savoy region of France has a surprising degree of quality white and red wines to offer. Savoy vineyards cling to the steep alpine slopes and grow a limited number of grape varieties; jacquère, Altesse, and Roussanne in the most part. This local wine can be excellent, but importantly, is always excellent value.

Savoyarde raclette

So there you have it, some but certainly not all of the beverage choices available to you when out in the mountains.  A word of warning though, whilst a couple of drinks at altitude may be the cherry on top of a perfect day, the effects of “altitude training” can be pretty telling on your skiing ability on the way back to resort.

Words – Hector Smethhurst

Courchevel Senior Resort Representative