High up in the mountains above Aspen, Colo. — 10,900 feet up to be exact — a ski bar and restaurant called Cloud Nine sells $125 bottle of Veuve Clicquot. They serve lunch at 12 and 2 and go through bottles and bottles of Champagne every day (their record is 140 bottles in one lunch). It’s not all for drinking, though. In fact, most of the bottles are actually used for Champagne showers.
Oh, yeah, one other small detail: Cloud Nine is the largest buyer of Veuve Clicquot in the United States, and it’s only open four months of the year.
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro is a modern marvel of excess. It’s inside an old ski patrol shack in the middle of the Highlands Mountain run, and you can only get to it if you make a reservation ahead of time (they suggest 30 days in advance) and then ski or snowboard in. Lance Armstrong, Will Ferrell, and Seal have all been spotted at the bar.
It’s legendary for “channeling authentic European Alpine culture in a warm, welcoming environment,” Cloud Nine writes on its website. “It also happens to have the most boisterous après ski scene on any mountain in North America.” There are ski-boot dance parties that “just happen,” a “bevy of cocktails,” and record numbers of Veuve Clicquot.
The legend that is now the Cloud Nine lunch party started back in 1998. Back then, it was just a recently abandoned, humble ski shack owned by the Aspen Skiing Company. A year later, a chef for the the company, Austrian-born Andreas Fischbacher, looked at the empty shack and saw potential. He flipped it and turned it into a European fine- dining establishment where all of the food and water and beverages had to be transported up by snowmobile.
Cloud Nine’s popularity quickly took off. By the time Tommy Tollesson took it over in 2013, it was already a party destination. Tollesson spent $1.2 million on a renovation that included a proper sound system, a fire pit, space heaters, and a Champagne ice bar. Then came the kicker.
“I had an ex-girlfriend who always drank Champagne up there, and it made sense to me,” Tollerson told Vogue in 2016. “It’s light and crisp. It’s lunch. It’s celebratory. I’ve never heard of anyone who drank alcohol and didn’t like Champagne. So I contacted Veuve Clicquot, and we made it the obvious choice.”
Now it’s hard to think of the world’s most extravagant daily ski parties — one at 12, one at 2 — happening any other way. If you’re a fan of winter sports or fine Champagne, go ahead and book your tickets now. The hottest party in the mountains only happens for four months of the year.