Every March 17, the population of Denver gets a little green, usually as a result of drinking too much dyed Coors Light — but this year, the powers-that-be are worried about another infectious agent making us green around the gills. With the annual St. Patrick's Day parade canceled because of fears of coronavirus rampaging through the population like a drunken frat boy staggering from the bar to the bathroom and leaving nothing but suffering in his wake, you may think there's nowhere to celebrate on Tuesday, March 17.
In fact, your options that day are limited, but that's mostly because bars are celebrating St. Paddy's Day five days ahead of schedule to coincide with the weekend. What's not limited is your ability to nosh on corned beef and cabbage (though we'll say it ’til we're green in the face: Corned beef and cabbage is not Irish), imbibe beer and whiskey, and generally party in a manner that the saint (or your Irish grandma) would secretly envy. Here are ten St. Patrick's Day parties happening around town from Friday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 17. (Note: Check with a venue before you go, to make sure there are no changes.)
7301 Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 720-588-4107
8905 Westminster Boulevard, Westminster, 303-731-3330
What does the remake of a Hong Kong action flick by way of an Italian-American director have to do with St. Patrick's Day? Set it in Boston, and suddenly everyone's Irish — the mob boss, the dirty cops, the doomed undercover agent, even the rat that symbolizes obviousness. See the lauded 2006 film The Departed on Tuesday, March 17, at both the Littleton and Westminster Alamo outposts (at 7:30 and 7 p.m., respectively) while being treated to a multi-course beer dinner that includes corned beef and cabbage and cannoli for dessert (because if you're not Irish in Beantown, you must be Italian). Tickets, $50, are on sale on the theater's website.
Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th Street
Denver's iconic downtown hotel is rolling out the green carpet with a pair of themed events this St. Patrick's Day: food and drink specials at the Ship Tavern and an Emerald Isle-themed afternoon tea. The nautical Tavern is the perfect place to settle in for corned beef and cabbage, potato stew and soda bread; then indulge in one of the cocktails from a list as long as two leprechauns stacked together. We're betting you can't remember the last time you had a mixed drink for under $13 at the Brown, but here you'll enjoy classics like Irish coffee and a barrel-aged Jameson Old Fashioned, along with garish retro drinks (the Grasshopper) and experiments that have the potential to incite an armed revolution (the Irish Flag, a combo of Baileys, Grand Marnier and crème de menthe) for $12 each. Doors open at 11 a.m., and the craic runs from Saturday, March 14, through Tuesday, March 17. Meanwhile, the hotel's St. Patrick's Day afternoon tea (starts at $40 for adults and $20 for little ones) will include corned beef and pumpernickel finger sandwiches, Baileys Irish Cream cheesecake, and a glass of bubbly to go with your pot of (green, naturally) tea. Visit Facebook for more info, then reserve your spot at the bar or the tea party on OpenTable.
The Brutal Poodle
1967 South Broadway
What's remotely Irish about this dog-themed metal bar's bash? Certainly not the date, since the noise starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 14. And despite the name of the event — Sham-Rocked — we suspect there won't be a tin whistle or accordion within twenty miles of the joint. So why are we recommending it? Six words: free corpse face painting all day. ’Nuff said, but if you insist on a connection to St. Patrick's Day that's more explicit than "Drink beer and do fun shit," we point to the bar's drink specials, which include $3 watery green beer, $4 Irish Maidens and Dublin Moshpits (Guinness black and tans and Irish drop shots, respectively — and props for ditching the latter's better known but problematic moniker) and $5 Guinness and Jameson pours. Details are up on the bar's Facebook page.
Spanky’s Roadhouse, Reivers Bar & Grill and Roadhouse Boulder Depot
These three casual bars operated by Vibe Concepts are getting in the Emerald Isle spirit with green-tinted specials beginning Friday, March 13, and running through actual St. Patrick's Day (because they know you have the stamina for a five-day bash). Longtime University of Denver fave Spanky’s Roadhouse will serve $4 Jameson Pickleback and Green Tea shots (wear a kilt and get one for free), along with corned beef and cabbage for $16 and a green-eggs-and-ham brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Reivers continues the fun on Saturday (though Tuesday) with Irish Car Bombs ($6), Corned Beef and Cabbage ($19), and Shepherd’s Pie ($19). Not to be outdone, Roadhouse Boulder Depot will serve braised Brussels sprouts (like miniature cabbages) with apple-cider mustard vinaigrette, julienned carrots, crispy bacon and green onion ribbons for $5, and shepherd’s pie for $19 Saturday through Tuesday. For the leprechaun with the sweet tooth, the roadhouse offers Pot de Gold Crème ($8): Guinness chocolate mousse topped with Baileys Irish Cream whipped cream served in a sugar glass with a gold leaf. See the Vibe Concepts website for locations and other details.
Burns Family Artisan Ales
2505 West Second Avenue
This Valverde taproom seems instantly homey (both because it's furnished with squoodgy couches and because there aren't many places outside your own living room where you can regularly indulge in high-ABV brews; currently, there are seven 10 percent-plus beers on tap, plus a handful more ranging from 3.9 to 9.9 percent), making it the ideal destination if you want to avoid the chaos of more popular bar districts but aren't quite willing to celebrate on your lonesome at home. Doors open at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, with the release of Mr. Bloom, the brewery's export stout that clocks in at a respectable 7.2 percent; free Irish stew and boxties (traditional potato pancakes) will also be served free to all comers while supplies last. So show up early, settle in and prepare for the beer-iest, boxtiest celebration this side of the Mississippi; details are on the taproom's Facebook page.
The Cherry Cricket
2641 East Second Avenue, 303-322-7666
2220 Blake Street, 303-297-3644
NOTE: Live entertainment at both locations has been canceled as a precaution during the coronavirus state of emergency. The restaurants will remain open and serving food and drink specials. You don't need to show up in Cherry Creek on St. Patrick's Day to enjoy the Dubliner, the Cricket's burger of the month, which comes topped with corned beef, Irish cheddar and potato chips (the special is available all March), but if you do, you'll be treated to a side of extra Blarney, with Irish bands and dancers performing starting at noon on Tuesday, March 17. And because the venerable burger bar has been giving the people what they want since World War II — and it knows people want to show up at work on Wednesday without a hangover the size of County Cork — it's presenting a full day of performances on Saturday, March 14, as well, also starting at noon. Don't want to fight the Romper Room vibe that sometimes pervades the Cherry Creek location? The Ballpark outpost is offering the same great burger with an abbreviated slate of dancers and musicians on Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14. Visit the Cherry Creek and Ballpark Cherry Cricket Facebook pages for details.
Denver Central Market
2669 Larimer Street
This time of year, there are as many bar crawls as there are Irish(ish) men touting their dubious DNA credentials. And while it's fun to sample from the best bars and bites Denver has to offer in one night, you can do better than donning a Day-Glo wristband and staggering the streets in a drunken daze. This weekend, you can get all the good stuff under one roof at Denver Central Market, which is offering elevated food and drink like corned beef sandwiches from SK Provisions; seasonal sweets and cupcakes from Temper Chocolates and Izzio's Bakery; and housemade corned beef to serve at home from Local Butcher. Our favorite offering? Vero's shepherd's pasta, which includes ricotta, hot sausage and sautéed cabbage. ("But wait," you mutter, "pasta isn't Irish!" Take a deep breath and repeat after us: Neither is corned beef.) Meanwhile, Curio Bar will be pouring drink specials (Irish Roses, coffees and Old Fashioned cocktails for $7, Guinness and Tullamore Dew for $5) from Friday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 17, as well as hosting a Tullamore rep who will be giving out free samples on Saturday, March 14. Most restaurant specials will be available from Saturday through Tuesday — though even if your first choice isn't available, you're sure to find something equally delicious. Now, isn't that better than having to duck down an alley between the Ginn Mill and the ViewHouse after you've had one too many acid-green shots?
4460 West 29th Avenue
One of the few taprooms in Colorado turning out cask-conditioned ales of the British Isles (which does include Ireland, if only from a geographic standpoint) is taking a relatively low-key approach to St. Patrick's Day, as befits a people who aren't known for donning shamrock-patterned green suits for a Tuesday night out on the town. At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, the Highland brewery is tapping a nitro version of its Hog's Extra Stout, as well as hosting a beef stew cook-off (a far more authentic meal than the ubiquitous corned beef and cabbage). Entrants in the contest will be able to drink the brew for free all night (if that doesn't entice you, we don't know what will; email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for one of the five spots), while spectators get to sample and sip without the pressure of centuries of Irish culinary history bearing down on them. Visit the brewery's website for details.
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Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens
2555 West 37th Street
It's a strange day when a multi-course Irish whiskey dinner is the most sedate celebration around town, but here we are. This Highland haunt with a checkered past and ghostly reputation has operated as a bed-and-breakfast since the 1990s, and occasionally opens its doors to the public for evening meals, as it's doing on Tuesday, March 17. For St. Patrick's Day, the Lumber Baron will serve four courses — including Guinness stew and soda bread, shepherd's pie with roasted lamb and whiskey cake — along with Jameson Cold Brew (an Irish favorite with a caffeinated twist) as well as Teeling, Redbreast and Green Spot Irish whiskeys. Tickets ($75 on Eventbrite) are well worth the price when you have a chance to see a ghost — and when you're guaranteed not to encounter a speck of corned beef or cabbage.
8171 South Chester Street, Centennial
For Irish cuisine that rises above tired clichés and dated dishes from the (18)50s and ’60s, visit this Centennial cooking school on Tuesday, March 17. Uncorked Kitchen is teaching a class on modern Irish fare from 6 to 9 p.m., and, yes, cabbage is on the menu, but it's not paired with our least-favorite seasonal food; instead, it's made into scalloped cabbage. Caraway-cured salmon atop potato pancakes, sweet-and-sour carrots, shepherd's pie reimagined as a flaky pot pie, and chocolate cake spiked with whiskey also make an appearance. Visit the cooking school's website to sign up for the $95 class, which includes a boozy start to the evening (a welcome drink is included) and concludes with a sophisticated meal and nary a culinary caricature in sight.
Westfax Brewing Co.
6733 West Colfax Avenue, Lakewood
It's a happy day when a holiday (St. Patrick's Day) coincides with an already good deal ($3 beer Tuesdays at this Lakewood brewery). And in this case, the bargains are even better on Tuesday, March 17: Instead of just a single brew on sale for $3, the taproom is offering three. Are there any stouts or red ales in the mix? Nope — you'll have to choose from a cream ale, hazy IPA or porter — but after you've knocked back several pours for less than $10, you won't mind a bit. And if you just can't escape your urge for the quasi-traditional, a food truck will be on hand serving bangers and colcannon (sausages and potatoes mashed with leeks and cabbage), Irish soda bread pudding, and (sigh) corned beef and cabbage. Visit Westfax's website for more details.