STRATTON — The Drift officially blew into Stratton Mountain Resort on Thanksgiving weekend, and it's becoming a popular outdoor bar.
"The response has been overwhelming," said Pete Christy, general manager. "Early in the season, it's been our most popular bar during apres [ski]. We knew people would want to be outside, but we were really pleased with the response we got from people."
Christy said different concepts are employed at the establishments that he helps run at the Stratton Mountain Resort Village. Mulligan's is a family-style restaurant, Snowfish Sushi Room is a sushi kitchen, and the Green Door Pub is a bar with live entertainment.
"Last year, because of COVID, we got a New York City hot dog cart and started the Vermont Hot Dog Company in the village," Christy said. "When we had a line down the street, we knew we were onto something with the outside dining, which leads us to The Drift."
A patio used in warmer months wasn't fully weatherproofed until now.
"We really went for it," Christy said. "We put up a Douglas fir structure roof over that patio. It [has a] standing seam roof and radiant heaters. That lets us be a four-season place out there now."
Tables are set up on the patio for dining during summer, spring and fall. But in the winter, the patio will be a bar with lit fire pits on Friday nights and Saturdays during the day and night.
COVID has presented a need to offer outdoor options, Christy said.
"The last few weekends have proved that correct," he said. "We've been busy out there with DJ Nugget and DJ Joe Bell."
Some customers have told Christy they're not quite ready to be inside with crowds, however, being in the open air works for them.
Christy said the bar is heavily stocked with Vermont beer, as well as craft cocktails, house-made Mulligan's Bloody Mary drinks and mulled wine. The Bomb, a European drink mixing eggnog with brandy, is the most popular among patrons.
Winter 2019 was "going to be our best year on record," Christy said, "but we fell a little short in early 2020" when establishments in Vermont were required to shut down because of the virus. Green Door Pub temporarily turned into a takeout operation and is now back in action.
And things are going well so far this season.
"We're off to our best start ever for the restaurant," he said. "And coming into the weekend, we're firing on all cylinders, and The Drift is a big part of it."
Christy pointed out customers waiting to eat at Mulligan's can get a pager to be notified when their table is ready while their children can play the village.