We suspect a few of you still have a ratty old novelty T-shirt somewhere in the bowels of your closet that opines, "Rock out with your cock out." As trashy as the sentiment is, it's actually an apt one for dining in Denver this week: There's fowl in two forms (naked and fried) and plenty of partying on the packed culinary calendar. Here are the six best food and drink events leading up to Memorial Day weekend, as well as a few beyond.
Monday, May 21
Get naked at Bar Fausto — but don't show up without your pants. At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 21, bartenders from around town will converge on the space at 3126 Larimer Street to mix drinks with Naked Grouse, a new whiskey from the makers of Famous Grouse. While the image of a de-feathered fowl isn't the most appetizing, rest assured that the drinks prepared for this cocktail competition will be delicious, even if you do pair them with overcooked game bird. Register for this free event at Eventbrite.
Tuesday, May 22
July will bring chefs from across the globe to Denver for Slow Food Nations, and the U.S.'s southern neighbor is already planning its trip. This week, Mexican chef Benedicta Vargas will team up with chefs at both Centro Mexican Kitchen and Lola Coastal Mexican to raise funds for the Slow Food Mexico team to travel to the Mile High City. Centro, 950 Pearl Street in Boulder, will serve a five-course meal on Tuesday, May 22, with dishes like charales (a type of dried fish) and cheese mole; "dirty bird" mole with chicken, morels and yellow mole; and a venison tamal with green mole on the menu. Then, Lola, 1575 Boulder Street, hosts a Wednesday, May 23, dinner. Lola's menu is similar, but instead of venison, diners will be treated to Colorado bass with rhubarb aguachile. Dinners start at 6:30 p.m. and cost $60; reserve your spot by calling Centro at 303-442-7771 or Lola at 720-570-8686. Buen provecho!
Chef Brandon Becker's international food truck, Cirque Kitchen, is setting down roots — at least for one night. On Tuesday, May 22, the kitchen at The Corner Beet, 1401 Ogden, will be the setting for Cirque Kitchen's Garden Pop-Up. From 7 to 10 p.m., guests will dine on five vegetarian courses crafted from creative ingredients: carrot sorbet, black garlic mustard, morels, ramps and strawberries with black pepper will all make an appearance (though, thankfully, not in the same dish). Find the whole menu and get your very affordable ticket — just $35 — at Eventbrite.
Wednesday, May 23
Tivoli Brewing Co. has a long history in Colorado, including a nearly half-century-long absence from the state. Luckily, it's been brewing in the Mile High City again since 2012, and on Wednesday, May 23, the brewery and Broomfield restaurant Hickory & Ash, 8001 Arista Place, are joining forces to explore Colorado food and drink history in A Tasting Through Time. Starting at 6 p.m., six Tivoli beers with recipes dating from 1859 through 1965 will accompany dishes inspired by the eras. Think 1965's Jet Malt Liquor paired with buffalo wings and celeriac-blue cheese mousse; a pilsner recipe from 1891 with hearty picnic ham and spaetzle; and the Helles Lager from 1859 alongside mid-nineteenth-century bites like fish and chips and the Denver sandwich. Call the restaurant, 720-390-4400, to reserve your seat, just $75 including tax and tip.
Thursday, May 24
The fight is on! No, it's not a cockfight (though there will certainly be some of that, especially after all the whiskey is consumed), it's Chicken Fight!, Denver's celebration of fried yardbird. From 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, the pecking order will be established as Birdcall, Injoi Korean Kitchen, the Post, Au Feu and more go head to head. River North Festival Grounds, 3715 Chestnut Place, hosts the unlimited food and drink fest (so plan ahead, as the second-most hotly contested death match will be for parking); tickets will run you $69 to $125 at the Chicken Fight! website.
Friday, May 25
If you're a dedicated drinker who makes it a point to never hit the same spot twice, you need the Denver Passport. Much easier to obtain (and more enjoyable) than the government's version, the summer edition of this document is valid from Friday, May 25, through Labor Day and will get you two-for-one deals at almost 70 establishments around town, from the brand-spanking-new (American Bonded, Alternation Brewing) to old favorites (El Chapultepec, Lowry Beer Garden). If you already have yours, what are you waiting for? Get drinking! If not, snap one up for just $25 at the Passport Program website.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, May 26
There are plenty of great restaurant patios in town, but one of our favorites doesn't show up on many lists; that's because it's at MCA Denver, which isn't known as a dining destination. But on Saturday, May 26, the warm, wooden rooftop patio decorated with succulents at 1485 Delgany Street will host Block & Larder and Colorado Cider Company for MCA Dinner Society. For $125, guests will receive a behind-the-scenes tour of Cleon Peterson's Shadow of Men exhibit, as well as a four-course menu with cider pairings and a snack to take home (or eat in the car on the way there). These events always sell out, so snap up your ticket at eventbrite.com while you still can.
Saturday, June 16
If you're curious about the luxury food festival Cochon555 but the prospect of being packed into a hotel ballroom so tightly your drink spills every time someone next to you takes a deep breath makes you itch, you might fare better at Heritage Fire Snowmass, Cochon's outdoor version of the whole-animal competition. Chefs from all over the country will set up camp at Snowmass Base Village, 120 Carriage Way, to cook more than 3,000 pounds of beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, duck, fish and goat over open fires on Saturday, June 16, from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy the fresh air, smell of woodfire and unlimited food and drink. Snag your tickets ($150 to $200) at cochon555.com before they're gone.
Sunday, June 24
Those who don't mind the crowds and revel in seeing and being seen at the summer's hottest food event won't want to delay buying their ticket for Cochon555, the pork-centric food festival happening on Sunday, June 24. Competitions started in NYC in January and have been popping up in major food cities across the country before wrapping up at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street. Competing chefs Brother Luck (Four by Brother Luck), Adam Brantz (Ultreia), Cindhura Reddy (Spuntino), Kyle Foster (Julep) and Nate Singer (Blackbelly Butcher) will each create the most delectable and luxurious bites using a heritage-breed hog, while winemakers and bartenders keep the booze flowing. Tickets, $130 to $200, are on sale now at Cochon's website.
Tuesday, June 26, and Wednesday, June 27
If ever there was a culinary power duo that could pull off a bash with an all-star lineup and sellout crowds on a Tuesday, it's Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, the chef and owners of Izakaya Den, Ototo and Sushi Den. This year's rooftop party takes place on Tuesday, June 26, and Wednesday, June 27, on the roof of Sushi Den's parking garage at 1501 Pearl Street. From 6 to 10 p.m., visiting Japanese chefs will be cooking up yatai, street food commonly found at festivals, while Denver chefs Alex Seidel, Paul Reilly and Troy Guard will join the fun by making their own interpretation of those dishes. Find out more about the party at sushiden.net and pick up tickets, $90 or $110, at Eventbrite.
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