That's the Spirit

That's The Spirit

Hoisting a few after a long day of skiing is a time-honored tradition—especially in Europe, where that hoisting tends to begin at lunch. And it never hurts if your après bar has ski-friendly décor. Not satisfied with tacking antique wooden skis on the walls of his bar, an inventive entrepreneur in the Swiss ski resort of Mürren has taken ski ambience to its logical conclusion: He built a bar inside an old cable car. So as you sip a beer at one of the pine-log tables, you can glimpse one of skidom's most dramatic mountain panoramas, the one for which Mürren is justifiably famous. Not a bad way to knock back a drink.

Mürren is perched on a shelf far above its sister resort of Wengen, opposite views of jagged Alps—among them the fabled Eiger and the 13,642-foot Jungfrau. The scenery is glorious enough to lure thousands of summer guests, and, one long-ago winter, it served as backdrop for the ski-themed James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Mürren's car-free village has plenty of Old World charm, and the skiing isn't too shabby, especially the classic black run down the Schilthorn, a prominent summit.

One thing the resort has never been famous for, however, is nightlife. The village's only après bar used to be housed inside a 30-foot diameter Plexiglas igloo on the rear sun deck of the Hotel Jungfrau. When the hotel found the igloo to be more trouble than it was worth, the town was left with no real après hub. Cue igloo-regular Jens Biedermann, a ski instructor with Skischule Mürren. Biedermann located an old cabin from a 1960s—era cable car—it was being used in a children's playground in the Swiss city of Langenthal—and had it transported back to Mürren at his own expense, finally settling it into place on the Jungfrau's deck using a Russian cargo helicopter.

The cabin, 18 feet long and 10 feet wide, is outfitted with a wooden bar and log tables, and can hold about 35 patrons. Biedermann patched a few holes in the roof, piped in rock music and opened the bar to the public in the spring of 2005. And though this cable car will never again leave the ground, views out its windows still make you dizzy. Especially after a few pints of Appenzeller.