The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

The Block's first straight whiskey was released in December; now you can compare it to the distillery's first bourbon.EXPAND
The Block's first straight whiskey was released in December; now you can compare it to the distillery's first bourbon.
Linnea Covington
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Bust out the bourbon (and beer), pony up for a pair of good causes and plan an epic Sunday Funday with brunch, dinner and a movie all in one 24-hour period.

Here are seven of the best food and drink events on the table this weekend, as well as future activities that you won't want to miss:

Fledgling Georgetown brewery Cabin Creek opened in May — now it's pouring at the Vail Craft Beer Classic.EXPAND
Fledgling Georgetown brewery Cabin Creek opened in May — now it's pouring at the Vail Craft Beer Classic.
Courtesy Cabin Creek Brewing

Friday, August 14
RiNo resident the Block Distilling Co. is releasing its first bourbon on Friday, August 14, and will be celebrating throughout the weekend with food trucks through Sunday. If you're interested in nabbing the bourbon for your home bar, show up at 2990 Larimer Street at the stroke of noon, when bottles go on sale; buyers are limited to four 375-ml bottles and will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have enough whiskey in the jar to last until the end of the Apocalypse (aka 2020), come for side-by-side pours of the Block's bourbon and its four-grain straight whiskey. HipPops will be slinging icy and delicious gelato, sorbet and yogurt pops on Friday; Smokin' Bones BBQ will provide bourbon's perfect accompaniment on Saturday; and Pandemic Donuts is selling the whole doughnut — including the hole! — on Sunday. Visit the Block's Facebook page for details.

Coloradans would do almost anything to attend their beloved beer festivals this summer — including risking a public outing to sample a bottomless batch of brews. If you're willing to take the risk, you'll want to book a room in Vail for the night of Friday, August 14, because the Vail Craft Beer Classic will soldier on that day. The fest takes place in a park adjacent to Betty Ford Alpine Gardens (522 South Frontage Road South, Vail) and will run differently than standard beer festivals, of course: Attendance is limited to 175 people during each of two ninety-minute sessions (Friday at 4 and 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m.); everyone will be required to mask up while obtaining their beers and will only be allowed to imbibe once they're settled on the lawn with their drinking buddies. We can't guarantee there won't be any lines, but they will be spread out with six-foot indicators on the ground, as will brewery reps. Find details on the fest's website, where you can also pick up tickets ($49), but hurry — both sessions on Saturday, August 15, have already sold out.

Maine Shack is providing a backyard lobster bake for twelve to raise funds for Sophie's Neighborhood.EXPAND
Maine Shack is providing a backyard lobster bake for twelve to raise funds for Sophie's Neighborhood.
Courtesy Maine Shack

Saturday, August 15
Chef Hosea Rosenberg's daughter, Sophie, is just three, but she already has Boulder and Denver's restaurant community wrapped around her little finger. Nonprofit organization Sophie's Neighborhood launched earlier this year with the mission of raising money to research multicentric carpotarsal osteolysis (MCTO). Sophie is one of just thirty people worldwide diagnosed with the illness, and the organization bearing her name has already collected approximately $300,000 in donations. But with a fundraising goal of $2 million for 2020, there's no time to slow down, so an online auction is scheduled for Saturday, August 15. Bidding opens at 12:01 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m., but you can preview the catalogue now on the auction website. There are currently over seventy items available, including a $9,000 Viking grill; virtual cooking and cocktail classes with fellow Top Chef alumni Jennifer Carroll and Fabio Viviani as well as local fixtures Alon Shaya, Bryan Dayton and Daniel Asher; private dinners from Maine Shack, Steuben's Food Truck and the Bindery; travel packages (including an African safari!); and more, with new items still being added.

With City Park Jazz and Levitt Pavilion streaming shows this summer in lieu of hosting live performances, the time-honored practice of smuggling booze into the park alongside your picnic, blanket and camp chairs for a concert under the stars hasn't been on the agenda for fans this summer. But now you can re-create the experience (sort of) on Saturday, August 15,  at Tunes at Twilight. Is it in the heart of the city? Well, no — but it is at the gorgeous Lyons Farmette, an intimate and private farm at 4121 Ute Highway in Lyons. Is it free? Definitely not, but of the $150 ticket price, $47 will go to musicians and music-related small businesses; $25 will go to restaurant and bar staff; and the remaining $84 will benefit nonprofit organization Can'd Aid, specifically its music outreach programs. Americana band Trout Steak Revival is providing the tunes, A Spice of Life Catering is serving boxed picnic dinners, and Oskar Blues and Infinite Monkey Theorem will be selling beer and wine. Find out more and reserve your spot on the Can'd Aid website.

Sunday, August 16
Boulder brunchers and bakers can take a day off on Sunday, August 16: Oak at Fourteenth, 1400 Pearl Street, is mounting a bake sale that day starting at 9 a.m. Stop by and take your pick of sweet and savory baked goods so succulent you might not even be able to make it home and put out the spread before having a nibble or two (we won't snitch on you, promise). Black and white cookies, brown-butter blondies, everything pretzels, hazelnut sticky buns, egg and cheese biscuits, fresh focaccia and "dough-fins" — a doughnut-muffin cross — are just a few of the bites that will be available for purchase. The bake sale runs until 3 p.m., but we're guessing the endeavor will sell out long before then.

Denver brunch fiends also have options on Sunday, August 16, when Urban Farmer, 1659 Wazee Street, hosts brunch immediately preceding its Urban Farmers' Market. Show up starting at 9 a.m. (okay, don't just show up; make a reservation like the civilized human you are) for food and drinks. We recommended the steak frites, just because the idea of tucking into a pile of fries and a perfectly seared steak for breakfast tickles our funny bone (and if you used up all your social graces making that reservation, you can indulge your animal nature). Stick around for the market, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes wares from the restaurant's own vendors, including Black Box Bakery, Mountain Man Micro Farms and Highland Honey. Unlike some other markets around town, vendors don't pay a fee to participate, nor are they required to share any sales with the monthly market's organizers. Book your table and get more details on Urban Farmer's website.

The last time you went to a drive-in movie, you probably noshed on hot dogs and soggy French fries. If you were lucky, you snuck in a flask (for everyone but the driver) and a bag of burgers from Sonic. But on Sunday, August 16, you can enjoy a restaurant-quality meal at the Holiday Twin drive-in, at 2206 South Overland Trail in Fort Collins. The movie theater is partnering with chef Kevin Grossi of the Regional for a white-tablecloth, silver-screen experience from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Instead of dropping popcorn between the car seats, you'll pull up next to a four-top and enjoy a three-course meal before the movie — 1988's The Great Outdoors, which stars Dan Aykroyd, John Candy and the world's largest cell phone — starts. The menu includes grilled sweet tea chicken (or roasted carrots for vegetarians) accompanied by smoked cabbage remoulade, potato salad purée, and sour-beer pie with white-chocolate pretzel brittle for dessert. And yes, there will be popcorn, but you won't have to sweep it out of your car after the show. Tickets are $200 per car and include a meal for up to five people, with drinks and bottles of wine available for purchase. Visit the Regional's website for the full menu and to purchase your ticket.

Keep reading for future food and drink events....

These big, bad, bold burritos are taking over at Pony Up next Monday and Tuesday.
These big, bad, bold burritos are taking over at Pony Up next Monday and Tuesday.
Courtesy Pony Up

Monday, August 17
Denver's premier purveyor of French dip sandwiches, Pony Up, 1808 Blake Street, is branching out with another crowd favorite: the Mission-style burrito. The difference between the Gallic sandwich and the San Francisco wrap isn't as great as you might think; essentially, both are layers of pillowy carbs surrounding oversized piles of savory meat. In the case of the burrito, though, you have the option of shrimp, carnitas, beef birria or smoked ribeye instead of the usual French dip fillings (not that there's anything "usual" about this joint's creative sandwiches). And you California transplants will be able to get your state's namesake burrito — not a whole wheat tortilla with sprouts and avocados, but a monster stuffed with fries and carne asada. Service starts at 4 p.m. Monday, August 17, and Tuesday, August 18; the bar will also debut patio seating on Monday. Details and other menu items (including the intriguing and enticing quesadilla suiza) are up on the joint's Facebook page, and takeout customers can pre-order on Pony Up's online store now.

Wednesday, August 19
Dinner at Rioja is never a consolation prize — unless, that is, you were actually planning to travel to the European Union this summer. The downtown restaurant at 1431 Larimer Street can't do anything to change the cataclysmic failure in national leadership and public health that's closed most of the world's borders to U.S. citizens, but it can serve up a stunning dinner paired with wines from northern Spain. On Wednesday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m., Rioja will pour fives wines from the regions surrounding the famed Camino de Santiago (a pilgrimage route that stretches across the country and ends in Galicia). Courses include cured salmon with Basque chile vinaigrette, grilled quail stuffed with tarragon sausage, and seared duck breast with rosewater, plum compote and farro croquettes. Seats for the in-house feast, $99 each, can be reserved on Tock. And even if traveling as far as the inside of a restaurant dining room gives you the willies, you don't have to miss out: You can opt for the virtual dinner for $70, which includes the same five courses plus finishing instructions for takeout. You can also opt for one (or all five!) of the wine pairings, which come by the bottle and start at just $19. Take a look at Tock for the full menu and a sneak peek of the dates for future wine dinners and highlighted regions.

Saturday, August 22
Chef Tom Coohill's namesake restaurant at 1400 Wewatta Street is perfectly positioned to take advantage of outdoor dining; its proximity to the bridge spanning the South Platte River has made it a popular destination for Beats on the Creek in previous years. While the 2020 concert series was canceled, diners can still sit under the stars on Saturday, August 22, at an al fresco wine dinner with seating set up on the bridge. Guests at the five-course dinner can expect a selection of six wines from around the globe poured alongside courses like lobster salad with duck breast and citrus-truffle emulsion; roasted guinea hen with porcini mousse, black mission figs and port reduction; and harissa-spiced lamb loin with dates and braised heirloom potatoes. Call 303-623-5700 or email events@coohills.com to reserve your spot for the 7 p.m. meal, which will run you $115.

If you're not on a Mexican beach, Spuntino's outside seating is a close second.
If you're not on a Mexican beach, Spuntino's outside seating is a close second.
Courtesy of Spuntino

Tuesday, August 25
Last July, Italian restaurant Spuntino teamed up with Bo Porytko (formerly of Rebel Restaurant, currently of Misfit Snackbar) for a Yucatán-inspired dinner that transported diners to a Mexican beach. On Tuesday, August 25, the pair is reviving that meal for a much-needed respite from life in the U.S. of A. Technically, you can still hop on a plane and disembark south of the border, but do you really want to take that chance? The next best option is a four-course meal under Spuntino's comfortable and spacious outdoor tent at 2639 West 32nd Avenue. The current menu includes grasshopper elotes with mint crema and and spicy chapulines; suckling pig roulade in arbol chile adobo with chicharrones, chorizo and cashews; and a plate of dueling tacos, with Porytko and Spuntino's chefs, Cindhura Reddy and Austin Nickel — both James Beard Award nominees this year — each turning out a heretofore unknown taco in the interests of friendly competition. Spaces for the 8:30 p.m. seating are still available for $90 per person on Spuntino's website.

Know of an event or activity that belongs here? Send information to cafe@westword.com.

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