You treated your mother right on Mother's Day, so this week it's time to treat yourself. You can check out a culinary tribute to a legendary pop star, a pair of anniversaries (one boasts beer, one whiskey), a guacamole throwdown and more. Here are the nine best food and drink events in Denver May 15 through May 19.
Chef Paul C. Reilly and George Michael invite you to dinner.
Monday, May 15
Beast + Bottle, 719 East 17th Avenue, is bringing you another Musical Chairs Dinner (previous honorees include the Beatles and Pink Floyd); this time, the late, great George Michael will be the inspiration for the four-course tasting menu that includes dishes inspired by "Careless Whisper" (beef, strawberries and rhubarb — very seasonal) and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (orange mocha cappuccino panna cotta). They May 15 dinner will run you $55 and the optional wine pairing another $25; the full list of musical masterpieces and their resulting bites are up on the eatery's Facebook page. Call 303-623-3223 to reserve your seats.
Tuesday, May 16
This month, Strange Craft Beer, at 1330 Zuni Street, is celebrating its seventh anniversary as one of the leaders of the craft-beer movement in Denver. Among the festivities is a screening of the feature-length documentary Blood, Sweat and Beer on May 16, which follows the journeys of two startup breweries and examines the beer industry nationwide. Get your tickets at eventbrite.com for $5, or pay $7 at the door. There will be two seatings, at 6 and 8 p.m. Sip local suds while learning about the ups and downs of small-business ownership in a fast-growing industry. Cheers to more beers!
Native Coloradan Jesse Katz – who's made custom wines for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel and Von Miller – has created a custom wine for Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar locations throughout Colorado. The 2016 Jax-Aperture “Unlikely Native” Chenin Blanc White Blend will be introduced at a five-course winemaker’s dinner with Katz at 6 p.m. May 16 at the Jax Glendale location, with food from chefs Sheila Lucero and Ricky Myers; find out more on the Jax website. Katz will also host a winemaker's dinner at Frasca on May 15 and Parker Garage on May 17.
Coohills will host a Dinner Under the Stars on the terrace of the LoDo restaurant with Bill Spence of Matua at 6:30 p.m. May 16. Matua founding brothers Bill and Ross Spence played a major role in establishing New Zealand’s reputation as a major winemaking region. Not only were they the first vintners in New Zealand to really match microclimate and terroir to specific varietal growing requirements, but they were also the first to commercially plant and produce sauvignon blanc — now the signature wine of New Zealand — in their homeland. Chef/owner Tom Coohill will be pairing dishes with spring ingredients to the wines. Cost for the five courses and five wine pairings, plus an initial glass of wine during the reception, is $85 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Make your reservation at 303-623-5700; find out more at coohills.com.
There'll be a whole lotta shakin' going on when the Make it Exotico Cocktail Competition comes to the Tavern Wash Park, 1066 South Gaylord Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 16. Mixologists from across the country have been submitting cocktail recipes using Exotico tequilas; at this semi-final event, each of the ten contestants will have seven minutes to make their cocktails and wow the four judges. The judges will pick six bartenders to move on to the final round; they'll get an all-expenses paid trip to New Orleans, site of the final contest. The semi-finals are free to watch, and audience members get to vote on a crowd-favorite cocktail that will be named at the event. Find out more at Exotico's Facebook page.
Guac: condiment of the gods.
Wednesday, May 17
Who doesn't love guacamole? Communists, that's who (word has it they add peas to their guac in an effort to break our spirits). Celebrate hump day like a red-blooded American and head over to Driscoll Green at the University of Denver, 2055 East Evans Avenue, for a competition of epic proportions: the guac-off. Sadly, it's too late to enter your own recipe in the competition, but it's not too late to judge — and really, wouldn't you rather be eating the delicious green goop than making it? Just drop in between 1 and 3 p.m. on May 17 and get scooping (and pray there aren't any peas in the recipes).
Indulge in 125th Anniversary whiskey at the Brown Palace (rodeo attire not required).
Thursday, May 18
Fear not, Colorado gardeners: It's not too late to sow your seed this season. The Urban Farm at Stapleton, 10200 Smith Road, has your back this week with its annual plant sale. Snap up tiny tomato, basil, eggplant and pepper plants from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m on May 18 and 19, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 20. And while admission to the nonprofit farm usually costs $5, you'll get in free to shop — so make a list and get your Large Barred Boars, Zapotec Pleateds, Purple Princes, Biker Billy Jalapeños and Fatalii hot peppers before they're all sold out. Tomato-planting demos will take place throughout the day to help you ensure the newest additions to your gardens don't perish from benign neglect. The Urban Farm's website has details, including a complete list of heirloom varieties for sale.
The Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th Street, may be even more of a Denver institution than many natives realize: The venerable hotel is turning 125 years old this month, and it's pairing up with another classic that got its start in Denver — Stranahan's Whiskey. For $75 (plus tax and tip, but thankfully including valet parking), you'll be the first to sample the 125th Anniversary whiskey created especially for the Brown Palace, along with appetizers from the Palace Arms. Stranahan's master distiller will be on hand, and live music and prizes will round out the festivities. The event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 18, and you can always pop over to the Ship Tavern (or Churchill's, if you're feeling fancy AF) to keep on drinking in style. Check out the Brown's website for details, and call 303-312-5924 for reservations.
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Get free beer — you heard us — at Guerilla Gravity's Mega Cookout.
Courtesy of Alpine Dog Brewing
Friday, May 19
Love biking? Love beer? Love biking while drinking beer? While that may not be advisable on most occasions, bike manufacturer Guerilla Gravity, 2031 Bryant Street, is teaming up with Alpine Dog Brewing Company for the fourth Mega Cookout to benefit the nonprofit Colorado Mountain Bike Association, and bike and beer games (foot down, beer-in-hand bike assembly and a wheelie contest) are definitely on the agenda. From 5 to 9 p.m. on May 19, expect free (yes, we said free) beer, burgers to purchase from OG Burgers, and giveaways. Check out the Facebook event page for details, and get over there on your fixie, mountain bike or, hell, even your tricycle, before that beer runs out.