The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Masumi sake is rarely seen outside of Japan.EXPAND
Masumi sake is rarely seen outside of Japan.
Courtesy Izakaya Den

Denverites are thirsty — and this weekend, we have the cure. From obscure sake to peaty Scotch and brunch-favorite Bloody Marys to dangerously delicious punch, there's a drink to quench your thirst this weekend. Keep reading for the best of the town's food and drink from Friday, October 18, through Sunday, October 20, plus a pair of events you'll want to mark your calendar for.

The WhiskyX combines whiskey tasting, music and even free haircuts.EXPAND
The WhiskyX combines whiskey tasting, music and even free haircuts.
Courtesy the WhiskyX

Friday, October 18
Sake is big with drinkers this year; fans of Japanese cuisine are become more savvy about finding just the right brew to pair with their okonomiyaki, takoyaki and robatayaki. At Izakaya Den, chef/co-owner Toshi Kizaki is bringing in one of his favorite small-batch sake producers, Masumi, from Suwa, Japan, where the Miyasaka family has been making the rice-based beverage since 1662. The Kizaki brothers and Chris Johnson (the “Sake Ninja”) will pair special dishes with Masumi sakes in the second-floor private dining room at 1487 South Pearl Street. There are only about two dozen seats, so make your reservation by emailing bella@sushiden.net. Tickets are $70 each, and the tasting runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

It seems like harvest dinners are a dime a dozen in Denver this month — but that's because harvest festivals are a global tradition, with communities around the world celebrating as the crops come in. On Friday, October 18, Comal Heritage Food Incubator, 3455 Ringsby Court, is launching a culinary exploration of global cultures with its Sukkot: Come One, Comal dinner. The week-long Jewish harvest fest also commemorates God's protection of the Jews after their exodus from Egypt, and eating under a temporary hut, or sukkah, is an important part of the tradition. Starting at 6:30 p.m., guests will be served challah in the sukkah, followed by a four-course dinner that melds Middle Eastern and Mexican dishes: curried hummus with toasted pepitas and fresh pita; roasted beet salad with labne, za'atar and lemon; mushrooms a la plancha with roasted sweet potatoes and tahini; and a salted chocolate brownie with poached pear and dulce de leche. Tickets are just $50 on Eventbrite.

Winter is coming, and so is whiskey. On Friday, October 18, WhiskyX is landing at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, with over sixty tipples, including locals Tincup and Old Elk; celeb brand Heaven's Door (perhaps the secret to Bob Dylan's gravelly voice); single malts Aberfeldy and Ardbeg; and Irish rarity Writer's Tears. From 7 to 10 p.m., peruse peaty pours among the planes while enjoying the usual amenities like live music and bites from food trucks, along with a truly random assortment of services like free haircuts and beard trims (mmmm, Scotch with a chaser of stubble) and fittings for custom jeans. Admission starts at $85 and includes a membership to Flaviar, a quarterly whiskey club; the VIP package is $120 (with code WHXDEN19) and includes $100 off of those blue jeans you got measured for. Nab yours on the WhiskyX website.

Coperta will teach you how to make a punch that doesn't take like your grandma's.EXPAND
Coperta will teach you how to make a punch that doesn't take like your grandma's.
Flickr/Phil! Gold

Saturday, October 19
The holidays are fast approaching, and let's be honest: The real key to a successful gathering isn't a perfectly roasted turkey, decadent desserts or over-the-top decor. It's the booze. Get your guests tipsy enough and they won't care about the window dressing. And while the final quarter of the calendar merits drinks that go above and beyond a keg of craft beer or a box of wine decanted in hopes of hiding the evidence (we see you!), not every host wants to spend their party mixing an endless stream of cocktails. Enter the original batched cocktail: punch. On Saturday, October 19, Coperta, 400 East 20th Avenue, is offering a punch class that will put you on the right party path in the months to come. For $45, students will get a welcome spritz, bites from the kitchen and glasses of each of the three punches you'll learn to make: cucumber-lemon tequila, violet-herb vodka and spiced rum. Call the restaurant at 720-749-4666 to reserve your spot and get started on the most critical part of your holiday party planning. 

It's still two weeks before Halloween, but who cares about calendrical accuracy when there are pigs to roast and costumes to wear? Not Julep, which is throwing its first Southern Spooktacular on Saturday, October 19. From 6 to 11 p.m., the restaurant at 3258 Larimer Street will go full Southern Gothic with themed food and drink, a costume contest, live music from the Raritans, a haunted side show and an oddities market. We expect plenty of atmospheric Spanish moss, subtly menacing hoop-skirted belles and a crazy cousin or two locked in the attic; get your tickets ($25 for all-you-can-eat or -drink, $40 for all-you-can-everything) on Toast.

Will any of the Bloody Marys (Maries?) on tap at the Bloody Mary Festival be as elaborate as what you can build yourself at Punch Bowl Social? Show up to find out.EXPAND
Will any of the Bloody Marys (Maries?) on tap at the Bloody Mary Festival be as elaborate as what you can build yourself at Punch Bowl Social? Show up to find out.
Amber Boutwell, Punch Bowl Social

Sunday, October 20
Every Sunday brunch is basically a Bloody Mary festival, so why not make it official? On Sunday, October 20, Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, is entering the saturated brunch field, but with a difference — it's eschewing food in favor of the drinks. For $45 to $55, guests will get unlimited Bloody Marys from 3:45 to 6 p.m. (the morning session is already sold out). And while there will be food available for purchase, the focus is definitely on the crimson creations topped with everything from olives to shrimp to chiles (no word on whether there will be skewered burgers topping any drinks). Participating restaurants include Snooze, Hearth & Dram, Sassafras, Ace Eat Serve and Highland Tavern, just to name a few. Nab your tickets before they sell out on Eventbrite or on the event's Facebook page (where, as a bonus, you can take can a deep, salty dive into the comment section to whet your appetite).

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

Falafel from the Veggie Whisperer.EXPAND
Falafel from the Veggie Whisperer.
Danielle Lirette

Thursday, October 24
Feast, Westword's annual celebration of the Denver restaurant scene, will make its delicious return to the McNichols Building on a new day and time: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday evening. As always, though, Feast will be a true feast for the senses, with music, beverage samplings and dishes from more than thirty favorite restaurants. Among those already signed on to sample their food are Uchi, Rose & Thorn, Snooze, CRUSH Pizza & Tap, La Fillette, Latke Love, Turtle Boat, Sushi Cup, Neighbors Wine Bar, Sushi Cup, Jackdaw, The Veggie Whisperer, Roaming Buffalo BBQ, 5280 Burger Bar, Aloy Modern Thai, Bad Daddy's Burger Bar, El Coco Pirata, Esters Neighborhood Pub, GQue BBQ, Lucky Mary's Baking Company and Little Man Ice Cream. This year, VIP ticket-holders will again be treated to a special menu courtesy of the world-renowned Matsuhisa. Bites from Matsuhisa will include spicy tuna crispy rice, chicken gyoza, black cod miso in limestone lettuce, and more, as well as special VIP cocktails to complement the menu. VIP tickets also include early entry into the event at 6 p.m. and a VIP gift bag. Buy tickets and get more info at westwordfeast.com; see the complete lineup of restaurants here.

Thursday, November 7
For a unique take on dinner and a show, consider dining at Morin on Thursday, November 7. Starting at 6 p.m., the upscale French restaurant is hosting a benefit for Central City Opera, one of the oldest professional opera companies in the country and, at 87 years old, a Colorado institution long before slot machines invaded Clear Creek Canyon. Chefs Carrie Baird (Bar Dough, Top Chef) and Max MacKissock (culinary director at Morin, Señor Bear, Bar Dough and more) will be serving up cooking demos alongside a multi-course dinner; the excellent natural wines and creative cocktails you'd expect from beverage power couple Mary Allison Wright and Mclain Hedges; a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour; and performances from Central City Opera singers. Tickets ($250) are on sale now on the Opera's website.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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