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The Best Food and Drink Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Bonnie Brae restaurant Brightmarten is pouring exclusively Spanish wines on March 6.
Bonnie Brae restaurant Brightmarten is pouring exclusively Spanish wines on March 6.
Courtesy Brightmarten

This weekend, we're celebrating Spanish cuisine, Denver beer and women around the world; here are the best food and drink events from Friday, March 6, through Sunday, March 8. Keep reading for more great happenings including a porky party, a pet adoption event (with wine!) and a gathering of some of the best chefs in town who just happen to be women.

Friday, March 6
Start your weekend with a trip to the sun-splashed shores of Spain in the form of Brightmarten's Spanish wine dinner. The Bonnie Brae eatery at 730 South University Boulevard is serving a whopping seven courses (comprising treats like foie gras croquettes; paella; braised lamb with pomegranate and goat manchego; and Basque cheesecake with fresh figs) paired with a slew of Spanish sippers: housemade sangria, a pair of sherries and a handful of wines, including two different riojas. Master Sommelier Damon Ornowski and restaurateur Beth Gruitch (Rioja, Ultreia) will be on hand to discuss the food and wine; reserve your spot for the $120, 6:30 p.m. dinner by emailing marc@brightmarten.com.

Books about beer are best enjoyed with a pint in hand.EXPAND
Books about beer are best enjoyed with a pint in hand.
Courtesy Jonathan Shikes

Saturday, March 7
Hot on the heels of his recent book release, Denver Beer: A History of Mile High Brewing, author (and Westword contributor!) Jonathan Shikes is holding court at Hops & Pie, 3920 Tennyson Street, on Saturday, March 7. He'll be signing copies of his tome at the taproom from noon to 3 p.m., where you can also sample pints from some of the breweries that make an appearance in the pages: Our Mutual Friend, TRVE, Black Project and Comrade Brewing, among others. Copies of the book will be for sale on site; see Hops & Pie's Facebook page for more details.

Death & Co. lead bartender Alex Jump (right) is mixing a special cocktail for International Women's Day.EXPAND
Death & Co. lead bartender Alex Jump (right) is mixing a special cocktail for International Women's Day.
Danielle Lirette

Sunday, March 8
Celebrate International Women's Day with some of the baddest broads behind the bar and over the broiler, as the Ramble Hotel, 1280 25th Street, hosts a female-forward reception and marketplace on Sunday, March 8. Join just a few of Denver's exceptional chefs, bartenders, artists and entrepreneurs from 4 to 7 p.m.; there will be plenty of passed apps from Dana Rodriguez (Super Mega Bien, Work & Class), Jen Jasinski (Ultreia, Rioja and more), Kodi Simkins (the Wolf's Tailor) and Mel Schmidt (Death & Co.). Alex Jump, head bartender at Death & Co., is also creating a special cocktail for the event. Your ticket, $45 on Two Parts, gets you all you can eat, one cocktail and the opportunity to shop from stylish female-owned businesses. Additional drinks will be available for purchase, with all of the afternoon's profits (excluding marketplace purchases) going to nonprofit girls' development organization Girls, Inc.

If you're a lady on a budget (or you just want to save on entry fees in order to send more dollars to women who helm their own businesses), visit the Block Distilling Co., 2990 Larimer Street, from noon to 6 p.m. for its Get It, Girl! market. The intimate event costs just $10 for entry, which includes a cocktail (where else in town will a Hamilton get you a craft cocktail?) and shopping from women who own and lead their businesses, whether they be chocolate, cheese or sex toys. Yep, you can support women in business and make yourself really happy with excellent drinks from the Block (which is co-owned by distiller Michelle Weaver), sweets from Temper Chocolates, grilled cheese sandwiches from What Would Cheesus Do? or vibrators from Awakening Boutique. Visit the distillery's Facebook page for more info.

Keep reading for upcoming food and drink festivities.....

Wednesday, March 11
St. Patrick's Day may be approaching, but forget about the Emerald Isle on Wednesday, March 11; it's time to scour the clothes rack for red — don dresses, shoes, shirts, an entire suit — in any shade of scarlet, from blood to fire engine to vermillion, for the Colorado Restaurant Association's Drink Red Wear Red industry party. The Studio Loft at Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex is hosting the shindig, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and also serves as a fundraiser for the Colorado Restaurant Association's Angel Relief Fund, which provides emergency grants to industry employees in crisis. Entry, $45 or $75, includes all-you-can-drink wine, spirits and Odell brews; food from eateries including Woodie Fisher, Bistro Vendôme and Bistro Georgette; music from Hazel Miller & the Collective; a silent auction; and exclusive bites and wine for VIP ticket holders. Visit the CRA website for details and ticket sales.

Thursday, March 12
A wealth of Denver's A-list restaurants are uniting under one roof on Thursday, March 12, to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation at its annual feast, Great Chefs of the West. Starting at 6 p.m., Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, will play host to talent from Death & Co., Mercantile, the Bindery, Dos Santos, American Elm, El Five, Woodie Fisher and over fifteen other restaurants and bars serving their most extravagant bites and beverages. And while tickets aren't cheap at $200, you'd spend that much on Lyft rides alone trying to navigate from one end of town to another to hit up each and every participating eatery. Find out more about the event on the NKF website.

If you want to do good and drink well on Thursday, March 12, but don't much care for the company of humans, drive up to Golden's Foothills Animal Shelter, 580 McIntyre Street, for its Wine & Wags fundraiser. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., the rescue will open its doors to local wineries including Infinite Monkey Theorem and Blanchard Family Wines, blues band the Delta Sonics and fellow animal lovers. While that may sound like too many Homo sapiens to endure in one evening, take heart: There will be plenty of adoptable members of the Canis familiaris and Felis catus species to meet. All proceeds from the $25 tickets (which include six wine tastings and all the animal love you can handle) go to the shelter; get yours now on the shelter's website and get ready for a night of fine wine and furry family members-to-be.

Whiskies of the World unite.EXPAND
Whiskies of the World unite.
Danielle Lirette

Friday, March 13
The touring whiskey-tasting festival Whisky Extravaganza has become Whiskies of the World in 2020, but otherwise much remains the same about the high-end event that's landing in Denver on Friday, March 13. The dress code, for instance, still encourages female guests to don "blouses and slacks" — so, whiskey-loving women, better raid your mom's wardrobe in search of clothing that no one in Colorado has worn since 1983 (if you can find a vintage pink power suit with padded shoulders and a peplum jacket, all the better). But provided your vestments pass muster at the door, you'll be treated to the same expansive tasting, with more than 200 brands, light appetizers and the chance to register for tasting classes. The event runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons, 1114 14th Street, and tickets ($100 or $150) are on sale now at Whiskies of the World's website. Pro tip: Use code PIGLOVE (don't ask) to save 20 percent at checkout.

Thursday, March 19
City Park's SAME Cafe, 2023 East Colfax Avenue, is celebrating fourteen years in business this year; it's a major accomplishment for any restaurant, made even more impressive because the cozy lunch spot is a nonprofit, donation-based eatery that has never put a price on its menu. Diners pay what they can, either in greenbacks or volunteer hours, and regardless of financial status, everyone enjoys healthy food while being treated with dignity. And in keeping with its mission, the enterprise's annual fundraiser on Thursday, March 19, the So All May Eat Gala, is an egalitarian affair: Attire is "Colorado dressy," which means anything from cargo pants to custom gowns, and while tickets cost $75 (which includes small plates from SAME chefs and students in the cafe's Cook to Work culinary education program, desserts from local sweet shops including the Inventing Room, a silent auction, and spirits from Laws Whiskey House), there are also pay-what-you-can and volunteer options. The fun runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Space Gallery Annex, 95 South Cherokee Street; find all the details on SAME's website.

All the plates at Acorn's A Taste of the South dinner on March 21 come with ham.EXPAND
All the plates at Acorn's A Taste of the South dinner on March 21 come with ham.
Mark Antonation

Saturday, March 21
Italy has prosciutto and Spain has jamón ibérico, both of which are sought after and savored by discerning stateside diners. But America has its own version of cured pork — country ham — and Allan Benton, of Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, is one of the country's foremost purveyors of pig so succulent you won't let your mom anywhere near it for fear she'll overcook it come Easter dinner. And while you usually have to order the goods from Tennessee, on Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, the hams are arriving in Denver for a lavish Allan Benton tribute dinner and a casual meet-and-greet. Saturday night, Acorn, inside the Source at 3350 Brighton Boulevard, is hosting a three-course, family-style meal with dishes like cornmeal lavash with pimento cheese, pickled shrimp with ham cracklings, and peach vinegar pie; get tickets for a 6 or 7 p.m. seating ($100 without booze, $145 with) on Eventbrite. The next afternoon, join Benton at Isabel (also at the Source) from 2 to 4 p.m. for a less fussy but no less flavorful event that includes bacon-washed cocktails, more bites from Acorn, and stations for both shaved ham and caviar; tickets are $65 on Eventbrite.

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Tuesday, March 31
You might think Steamboat Springs is too far to travel for dinner, but when some of the state's best chefs are converging there for a five-course feast for a worthy cause, you should think twice. On Tuesday, March 31, Aurum Steamboat, 811 Yampa Street, is hosting a meal to benefit chef Patrick Ayres of the Periodic Table, who was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer at just 32. A team of mountain chefs from Steamboat and  Breckenridge (including Ayres himself) will take on visiting chefs that include Caroline Glover (Annette), Josh Niernberg (Bin 707 Food Bar in Grand Junction) and Alex Seidel (Mercantile & Provision); both Glover and Niernberg were recently announced as semi-finalists for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Mountain region (Seidel took home the title of Best Chef Southwest in 2018). Diners will receive two dishes in each course — one hot, one cold, both using the same theme ingredient — then vote as a table as to which preparation they prefer. To reserve your spot for this fundraiser, $250, email phil@destinationhospitality.com.

Monday, April 27
A woman's place is in the (professional) kitchen, according to Women Cook. The sixteenth annual fundraiser for Work Options for Women, a nonprofit organization providing free culinary training to women, is scheduled for Monday, April 27, and the chef lineup is a veritable who's who of the Denver restaurant scene: Liliana Meyers (Safta), Cindhura Reddy and Austin Nickel (Spuntino), Dana Rodriguez (Super Mega Bien, Work & Class), Penelope Wong (Yuan Wonton), Caroline Glover (Annette) and many more will be turning out their best bites from 6 to 9 p.m. at Exdo Event Center (1399 35th Street). Tickets ($75 for standing room, $125 for general admission on WOW's website) include all you can eat and drink, plus the satisfaction of knowing you're helping someone on the road to a delicious career.

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

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