Celebrate Mexican Independence Day, set things on fire at a distillery and watch RiNo's walls get a new coat of colors this week. Then keep reading to make your Oktoberfest and Harvest Week plans, nab free cocktails and indulge in bubbles.
Monday, September 14
Crush Walls, Denver's annual festival celebrating street art, launches Monday, September 14, and is uniquely qualified to exist in the COVID era. The week-long festival mainly comprises the open-air work of artists painting murals in RiNo's alleyways, but this year, the fest also includes the Spray Can Bar, a temporary bar set up behind the Ramble Hotel, 2424 Larimer Street. From your spot in the alley, you'll be able to watch artists at work while enjoying a tight list of cocktails, beers and wines (including a redundantly named "tequila margarita"). Find out more on the Crush Walls website.
Tuesday, September 15
On Tuesday, September 15, go south of the (Denver, Englewood, Greenwood Village and Centennial) border to Parker, where chef Duy Pham's suburban eatery, Parker Garage, has been serving up duck-fat fries in a strip mall setting since 2014. The spot at 19420 Mainstreet in Parker is serving a five-course tequila dinner with pours from Siete Leguas, Casa San Matias, Corazon and Rey Sol. Reserve your spot for the 6 p.m., $80 dinner on the eatery's website.
Wednesday, September 16
With fireworks shows across the state canceled in July, America's Independence Day may not have seemed very festive. Luckily, Mexican Independence Day is just around the corner, on Wednesday, September 16, and you don't need to set off pyrotechnics, gather in large groups or (the worst) listen to God Bless the USA to make it a memorable night. Instead, visit Dos Luces Brewery, 1236 South Broadway, for its celebratory beer dinner from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Neighborhood favorite Adelitas Cocina y Cantina will be providing a three-course meal of tortilla soup spiked with panela cheese and paired with pineapple tepache; chiles en nogada (roasted poblanos stuffed with ground pork and beef and topped with walnut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds) with pulque; and pecan cake with cajeta caramel and imperial pulque. Individual tickets for the dinner are $50, though preference (as well as a price break) is given to parties of four to six people, which can book a table for $180 or $240, respectively. Nab yours at the online Dos Luces storefront.
Wine drinkers are spoiled for choice on Wednesday, September 16, with two wine dinners, both of which promise to be exceptional. Fans of Old World juice will want to book a seat at Rioja (1431 Larimer Street) for a Spanish wine dinner, which will present wines from Barcelona and the Mediterranean alongside six courses that include oysters on the half shell with shiso granita; corn ravioli with guanciale vinaigrette; and fennel sausage roulade with chanterelles and black trumpet mushrooms. Or go New World with Bigsby's Folly's ode to the wines of South America at the urban winery at 3563 Wazee Street. The four-course menu boasts ceviche with cucamelon and shishito peppers; octopus with patatas bravas and cilantro cream; and Colorado lamb chops with beet marmalade and eggplants. Both meals begin at 6:30 p.m. and cost $99; too bad you can't be in two places at once! Reserve a spot on Tock for either the Rioja or the Bigsby's Folly dinner.
Thursday, September 17
You've been to a bar, downed a couple of pints, and proceeded to play with tiny, sharp needles (cross-stitch), larger, eye-gouging needles (knitting), motorized needles (sewing) and axes (ax-throwing). So crossing the relatively thin line to arson — or at least candle making — doesn't seem like that big of a deal, now, does it? On Thursday, September 17, Deviation Distillery, 900 West First Avenue, is hosting a candle-making and cocktails workshop from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For $40, you'll get one cocktail plus all the materials needed to make two candles with customized color and scent. Sign up on Eventbrite.
Friday, September 18
Wine festivals have a bit of an advantage over beer festivals in the age of COVID: Harvest season falls in autumn, so a handful of mountain wine fests are still on. One of those is the Wine Classic at Vail, which is offering four — count ’em, four — grand tastings on Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19. More than thirty beverage producers from around the globe will be pouring samples for guests to enjoy on the lawn of Ford Park (adjacent to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 522 South Frontage Road East). Each ninety-minute tasting session is limited to 175 people to encourage social distancing. Find out more on the fest's website and nab tickets, $69, on Eventbrite; tastings start at 2 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday and noon and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
And mark your calendar....
Saturday, September 19
As event producers cautiously dip their toes back into the murky waters of large-scale gatherings, they're forced to be creative about how to ensure that safety, social distancing and summer fun are all on tap in a single afternoon. Seltzerland, a traveling hard-seltzer fest that's landing in Denver on Saturday, September 19, is taking an approach as intriguing as any: Vendors and guests will tee off on Erie's Colorado National Golf Club, 2700 Vista Parkway, for nine holes of drinks. Leave your clubs at home (long metal sticks are generally frowned upon at any gathering where booze is the main attraction) for your walk along the fairway with a cohort of up to fourteen other attendees. Entry is timed in ten-minute intervals, and social distancing is required between groups as well as between vendors. While we're not sure how you'll get your seltzer samples if you're maintaining six feet from the seltzertender (is that the right word?), you're promised more than fifty different beverages and ninety minutes of fresh air and drinking with friends. Tickets are $39 for general admission, which runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. (participants are given an entry time during that window), or $79 for VIP, which goes from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and includes one cocktail, a full can of seltzer, free parking and bites in addition to samples. Visit the event website for details and to purchase tickets.
April 21 — the day government officials from Bavaria and Munich announced the cancellation of Munich's iconic Oktoberfest celebrations — was a sad day for beer drinkers around the globe. Denver's Oktoberfest was not so quick to follow, but finally put the kibosh on the Mile High City's annual dunkel drinking and dachshund racing festivities on July 31. So while large-scale gatherings have been given das Boot this year, you can still enter Breckenridge Brewery's drawing for a mini-Oktoberfest through September 12. Visit the brewery's website to throw your name in the hat to receive a private performance by the Rhinelanders (okay, as private as a Jeep hauling a three-piece band on a trailer and parking in your driveway can be), steins, brats and pretzels — all free. The beer, sadly, is not free (due to legal restrictions), but that means you can furnish whatever brews you prefer. Seven mini-bashes will be provided in Denver and Colorado Springs on Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 20.
Boulder's West End Tavern, 926 Pearl Street, is also providing an Oktoberfest bash in your own home (though you'll have to pick this one up at the taproom). Pre-order the grub on Tock no later than 2 p.m. on Friday, October 18, for pick-up between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 20. You'll get a spread of smoked and candied nuts; pretzel bites with beer mustard; brats, buns and onions; smoked chicken; cheddar spaetzle; sauerkraut; potato salad; and apple strudel for $55 (serves two) or $110 (serves four), plus you can add 25-ounce Crowlers from local breweries 4 Noses, Left Hand, Bootstrap, Great Divide and the Post for $10 each.
Monday, September 21
Start your week off really, really, right at Bettola Bistro, 10253 East Iliff Avenue. The sweet Italian dining room is launching the first of its monthly dinner series themed around a wide-ranging list of inspirations: friends, colleagues, ingredients, geography. On Monday, September 21, Bettola is teaming up with one of the original meat men in Denver: OG charcuterie expert Mark DeNittis, whose Il Mondo Vecchio was way ahead of its time. DeNittis will be turning out a four-course feast focusing on Duroc pork; the evening will also include a short butchering and coppa-making demo. Seatings are available at 6 and 8 p.m. and will run you $125 plus tip (tax is included). Email email@example.com or call 303-750-1580 to reserve your spot, and follow Bettola's Instagram page for mouthwatering pics and details on upcoming installments.
Wednesday, September 23, through Sunday, October 4
Denver's Harvest Week is a beloved tradition — if you've been fast enough to snag a seat at one of the wildly popular dinners under the roof of the GrowHaus, the nonprofit organization providing food and food education to residents of Denver's Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. This year, things look different, both because of COVID and because the GrowHaus building was shuttered as a result of severe structural issues. The upside? Harvest Week is being revamped as a citywide celebration of Colorado food and drink. More than thirty Denver and Boulder eateries (including Cart-Driver, Ace Eat Serve, Ultreia, Santo, Jax, Blackbelly and Tap & Burger) will be using local ingredients to create uniquely Colorado dishes and cocktails. Visit the event's Facebook page or website for a complete list of participating restaurants, then start making reservations. Meal planning has never been easier.
Everything old is new again: drive-in movies, anti-mask organizations, even progressive dinners. Here's a throwback to the 1960s tradition (albeit with a thoroughly modern price tag). On Wednesday, September 23, $350 will put you and a friend in the thick of things at the Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, for a cocktail crawl that includes bougie bites along with beverages. Expect Gruyère fondue with a boozy punch from Poka Lola Social Club; a quartet of smoked things — salmon, cauliflower, short rib and mac and cheese — alongside a whiskey flight from Seven Grand; Colorado lamb three ways with syrah from Blanchard Family Wines; and passionfruit pavlova served with Run for the Roses' final cocktail of the evening. The event goes from 6 to 9 p.m.; nab your spot (there are only ten left!) at the Rebel Experiences website.
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Thursday, September 24
If you want to taste tipples at the Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, but don't have a small fortune to spend on a single evening of drinking (see above), wait just one more night — until Thursday, September 24 — for a Chopped-style cocktail competition that includes bartenders from Seven Grand, Poka Lola Social Club, Denver Milk Market, Run for the Roses and Foraged mixing up bourbon-based cocktails using Angel's Envy and a basket of mystery ingredients. A limited number of guests will be able to taste all five cocktails — for free! — and vote for the people's-choice cocktail. RSVP on Eventbrite, where you'll reserve your entry time (every fifteen minutes from 6 to 7:30 p.m.); you'll have ten minutes to taste and cast your ballot. Don't wait to register; spots will go fast. This event supports Angel's Envy, a reforestation advocacy group.
Saturday, September 26
Everybody loves bubbles (unless they're of the economic variety)! Pour some sparkling wine into a glass and it's an immediate celebration. And on Saturday, September 26, you need to celebrate the fact that you have survived the first 269 days of this year (hey, we need to take our happiness where we can get it in 2020). Enter Spark!, a sparkling wine festival highlighting effervescent wine styles from around the globe. Champagne and prosecco will make appearances, naturally, but you'll also get a chance to sample lesser-known styles like sekt and cremant. More than twenty producers will be pouring at Peak Beverage, 4375 Brighton Boulevard, for three tasting sessions: a VIP session ($100) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that includes exclusive tastings from five champagne producers, a cheese and charcuterie box, a tasting book, a branded face mask, a raffle ticket and more; and two GA sessions ($65) from 2 to 4:30 and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There are also virtual tastings for anyone who wants to treat themselves but would prefer to do so in the comfort of their own home (and their sweatpants); packages range from $120 to $200 and all include at least three half-bottles of wine or champagne, snacks, and four forty-minute workshops. Visit the Spark! Instagram page for details, then nab your tickets on Night Out.
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