Imagine traveling back in time to the 1980s. Your hair is three times as big as it should be, neon is the latest fashion trend and Motley Crue is blasting from the boombox in a basement filled with fuzzy pillows and lime green carpet. Now, you throw on your outrageous ski apparel and skinny skis and hit the slopes for a rad day on the mountain. After an epic morning of shredding, you decide you deserve a cocktail and a hearty meal. You make your way down to the base where the rock music is blasting, friends are gathering, and drinks are flowing. Sounds like a perfect winter day in Colorado. Now, what if you could stop imagining and actually experience this scene? Amazingly, you can. At Switch Pop-Ups’ current concept — Apraske — you can experience the ’80s apres ski culture in all its glory here in 2021.
Switch Pop Ups was founded by husband and wife duo Patrick and Azadeh Walsh, who also own Bittersweet Cafe and Por Wine House in Louisville. They previously used the space for outdoor events at Por and created Switch Pop Ups because of the pandemic. During the holiday season the alley hosted Miracle on Main St. — a holiday-themed pop up with kitschy decor and themed cocktails — and decided to continue with more themed pop-ups throughout the year.
“People loved it and thought it was safe with the private greenhouses dedicated to a small group,” said Patrick, “We didn’t want it to end, so we decided to do an apres ski theme that would allow people to dress for the weather.” Come late spring, the space will transform into a tiki bar and then a Halloween-themed bar before Miracle returns for the holidays.
Apraske is tucked into a quaint alleyway in downtown Louisville but the pop-up’s modesty ends there. Old skis line the pathways, neon lights provide bright pops of color and the staff is dressed to impress in metallic onesies, neon color-block jackets and retro moon boots. You can reserve a private greenhouse, sit by the fire pit or enjoy the exclusive VIP lounge complete with a faux fireplace and ’80s memorabilia. “A lot of people have loved dressing up and getting goofy,” Patrick said.
The pop up isn’t just for fun — it’s also for charity. Every $5 reservation fee goes straight to one of Apraske’s two charities: Access Unbound and The Limb Preservation Foundation. Access Unbound works to provide individuals with disabilities or disabling conditions with high quality, professional ski instruction to empower and transform lives. The Limb Preservation Foundation helps to enhance the quality of life for individuals facing limb-threatening conditions due to trauma, tumor or infection through research, patient assistance and educational programs. You’ll also have the option to donate to these charities when you pay your bill.
Apraske adds an ’80s twist to signature cocktails and offers several original drinks crafted by its award-winning mixologists. The Sex on the Snow is similar to a French 75 with added cognac while the Fresh Pow adds a coconut twist to a traditional coin style margarita. Shred the Gnar — an Apraske original — includes oak-aged Nova Fogo cachaca, kaffir leaf infused shochu, yusuf marmalade and Hell-Fire bitters garnished with lime juice candied ginger. Another original — Double Black Diamond — consists of charcoal-infused mezcal, Solera rum, mole bitters, blackberry preserve, barrel-aged demerara syrup and lime sherbet. You’ll also find several hot cocktails that are sure to warm you up including a spiked hot chocolate, a twist on a hot toddy and an Irish coffee.
The food at Apraske is reminiscent of the hearty food at a ski lodge. Shareable plates include southwest style nachos with homemade carnitas and a giant soft pretzel stuffed with charcuterie including four cheeses and meats, spiced walnuts, fresh fruit, house-made giardiniera, roasted garlic grain mustard and whiskey berry compote. Mains consist of a spicy vegetarian chili and German-style beer brats that taste great with a cold beer.
Next time you crave a fun, kitschy, outdoor atmosphere head over to Apraske — or the next pop up to take over the alley — and let the festivities begin.
Apraske is located at 836 ½ Main St., Louisville. Open Tuesday – Thursday 4 – 10 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 2 – 10 p.m.