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The Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Whiskey not included.EXPAND
Whiskey not included.
Courtesy of Stranahan's
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Fruitcake toss, bingo and neon ski suits: It's going to be a wacky weekend. Keep reading for those events, plus significantly more sedate food and drink happenings in the weeks ahead.

Friday, January 22
Stranahan's whiskey distillery is offering up the cheapest virtual cocktail class you've ever seen — sort of. From 6 to 7 p.m. on Friday, January 22, Stranahan's head bartender will run through how to make two drinks: the Snow Dance (whiskey, rosemary-infused grapefruit juice, lime and spiced coconut and pineapple nectar) and the Lady Soul (whiskey, simple syrup and orange). The class is a mere $10 per device —  if you already have all the ingredients and tools at home. You can add on a cocktail shaker and jigger set for $50 (not essential, especially if you have a shot glass, pint glass and spoon at home) or an ingredient kit for two for $20 (more essential, especially if you can't be bothered to make the mixers listed above). And...oh, yeah, the whiskey, which is not included in the ingredient kit and which starts at $45 per bottle. So...maybe it's not as cheap as you thought. But remember in the Before Times, when you'd pony up $75 for four cocktails in a bar on a Friday night without a second thought? Visit Stranahan's website to book the class, then pick up your mixings and fixings at the distillery, 200 South Kalamath Street, starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, January 21.

Saturday, January 23
It's been a long time since you've left the house and had any fun. A long, long time. So come Saturday, January 23, it doesn't seem out of the realm to load up the dog and the car and trek down to Memorial Park, at 502 Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs, for the 25th annual Great Fruitcake Toss. Show up from 1 to 3 p.m., pay $1 (or donate a can of food) for entry, and compete in one of four events: the long-distance throw, accuracy contest, speed round or obstacle course. Of course, you can BYOF (bring your own fruitcake), or you can purchase one for just $5. And come hungry: Texas's Collin Street Bakery, which is famed for its fruitcake, is sponsoring the event, so samples of the renowned baked good will be available. Visit Manitou Springs's city website or the event Facebook page for further details.

Up for bingo, but not for a roomful of cutthroat retirees who are not above chasing you out of the game with a well-aimed swing of the handbag? More than a dozen excellent Denver restaurants and bars (including Attimo, Chook, Himchuli, Comida, Epic Brewing Co. and Denver Central Market) are joining Biz-ingo, a project that allows you to have fun at home while supporting local bars and restaurants. Stop by any of the participating locations (find a full list on Biz-ingo's website) on Friday, January 22, or Saturday, January 23, and request a game card with purchase. Then tune in to the live Facebook event at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday to play. Winners will receive gift cards from participating businesses, and you won't even have to deal with Doris, that dirty cheater. 

The spelling of the bar name is ridiculous; we're hoping this Retro Fashioned cocktail isn't.
The spelling of the bar name is ridiculous; we're hoping this Retro Fashioned cocktail isn't.
Courtesy Apraske

Sunday, January 24
Louisville's Miracle Bar, the Christmas-themed bar that pops up every winter like Elf on a Shelf, donated all of its reservation fees during the holiday season to two Louisville nonprofit organizations. The concept was so popular, it raised more than $30,000, so the owners are keeping the bar in place, at 836 1/2 Main Street, but mixing it up and changing the concept to a retro après-ski lodge, with drinks like Shred the Gnar (cachaca, shochu, marmalade and lime) and Sex on the Snow (gin, cognac and bubbles). The new name of the pop-up bar is a clever spelling of Apres Ski so chock-full of special characters we can't re-create it (Apraske is as close as we can get), which makes Googling it tough, but you can visit Resy to find details and make reservations, available from 4 to 10 p.m. weekdays and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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

Smoked chicken and jollof rice from one of Modou Jaiteh's past pop-ups.EXPAND
Smoked chicken and jollof rice from one of Modou Jaiteh's past pop-ups.
Amy Antonation

Wednesday, January 27
Front Range fans of African food (a descriptor so broad it's only useful if there are a only handful of restaurants serving it in the whole state) are being dealt a double blow with the recent closure of African Grill & Bar in Green Valley Ranch (luckily, the Lakewood location is still serving) and the departure of chef Modou Jaiteh of Jacaranda to South Carolina. At least Jaiteh is doing one last kitchen takeover of Arcana (909 Walnut Street in Boulder) from Wednesday, January 27, through Sunday, January 31, before he leaves. The West African(ish) menu will be available for dine-in, takeout and delivery. Make in-house reservations on Tock, and stay tuned on Arcana's Instagram page for menu details.

Thursday, January 28
Major props to the Flatirons Food Film Festival, one of the few food events that knows the true meaning of the word "postpone." As in: The festival was postponed from October 2020, to January 2021. We implore other food event organizers to take a page out of FFFF's book and stop claiming, "Our bacon-brownie-burger bash has been postponed from July 2020 to July 2021," when what they really mean is, "We've canceled our overcrowded festival this year because the world is on fire." In addition to the correct and not-common-enough understanding of the term, the fest has made another great decision in moving the celebration completely online from Thursday, January 28, through Friday, February 5. See films about about Los Angeles chef Evan Funke's life after walking away from his restaurant Bucato (Funke); indigenous chefs fighting to maintain their traditional food ways (Gather); the quest for elusive wild cacao and the perfect, sustainable chocolate (Setting the Bar); and a period piece about a cook seeking his fortune in the early-nineteenth-century Wild West (First Cow). You can get an all-access pass to watch the complete festival schedule — ten features and three short films — for just $90, or two-, four- and six-packs for $22 to $80 on the Fest's website.

Chef Biju Thomas (center) in the kitchen at Biju's Little Curry Shop in the Before Times.EXPAND
Chef Biju Thomas (center) in the kitchen at Biju's Little Curry Shop in the Before Times.
Danielle Lirette

Sunday, February 14
Normally, we can predict with some degree of accuracy what a Valentine's Day meal in a restaurant is going to look like (prix fixe menu, crowded dining room, harried servers). This year? Making any kind of prediction is a fool's errand, especially when the world's most beloved epidemiologist (call me, Dr. Fauci) can't predict whether or not eateries are going to be open. So stay home and put your money toward a good cause at a Sunday, February 14, fundraiser for Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the development of community gardens across the city. From 5:30 to 7 p.m., join chef Biju Thomas (of Mixn Match and the late, lamented Biju's Little Curry Shop) making a cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage, fattoush, winter veggie roast with chicken, falafel or tofu, and a pistachio pastry for dessert. Order a VIP meal kit for two, $250, on DUG's website and pick it up at the outfit's offices, 1031 33rd Street. You can also opt to purchase your own ingredients with the Table for Two package (includes an ingredient list and access to the party) for $150.

Sunday, February 21
If your love affair with boxed wine is waning at the same time your income is soaring, enroll in Frasca's series of wine classes. Each lesson includes six bottles of wine, a workbook, a pre-recorded course video and access to a live Q&A. Visit Tock to choose from one of three classes (or sign up for them all, though at $350 a pop, you'd better be one loaded learner): the Rhône Valley (Q&A scheduled for Friday, March 19); Reisling (Q&A takes place on Friday, March 26); and soil and minerality (Q&A on Friday, April 2). You'll pick up your course materials on Sunday, February 21, so you'll have a month to sip, study and mull over questions before the Q&As (all of which are scheduled at 5:30 p.m.). Pick-up locations in both Denver and Boulder are available; visit Frasca's website for details.

Wednesday, March 24
Denver's Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center generally hosts its expansive JAAMM (Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music) Festival over several months in the fall, with live cultural events across the city. In 2020, of course, that was upended. The silver lining: The fest is going on for a full twelve months (starting last year and well into 2021), and all programming is virtual. On Wednesday, March 24, James Beard Award-winning author of The Cooking Gene, food historian and deeply engaging Instagram presence Michael Twitty will discuss the holiday of Passover. Tickets for the 7 p.m. lecture, $18, are on sale now at the festival's website, where you can also see previous events on demand.

Know of an event that belongs on this calendar? Send information to cafe@westword.com.

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