Start this weekend with a high tea that could only happen in Denver, then spend the rest of the weekend globetrotting from Scotland to Australia to Japan and back again. Here are seven of the best food and drink happenings over the next few days, with many more to come in the weeks ahead:
Take afternoon tea with royalty on Friday, January 24. No, we don't mean the Duchess of Sussex; we don't even mean American royalty (as if the Kennedys would deign to leave the East Coast). We mean Denver royalty — the kind with hooves, horns and a fluffy blow-dried coat. For the 75th year, the National Western Stock Show's Grand Champion steer is visiting the Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th Street, to take tea with Denver's finest. The biggest boy in town will be in the Brown's lobby from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where he'll be surrounded by adoring fans, paparazzi and the best-dressed cowpokes around. While anyone can stop by the hotel for a glimpse of the guest of honor, if you want the royal treatment, spring for VIP tickets ($99 on Eventbrite), which include lunch, an open bar and first crack at pro photos with the bovine baron.
Bushfires have been raging across Australia since September, destroying hundreds of homes and killing dozens of people and untold numbers of animals. On Friday, January 24, Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse, 3636 Chestnut Place, is hosting Booze for Roos from 5:30 to 9 p.m., a fundraiser with 100 percent of ticket sales going to the Australian Red Cross, NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service and Wildlife Victoria. Your ticket, $20 on Eventbrite, gains you access to giveaways and an auction (items include a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, a football signed by Von Miller and wine from local and Aussie producers). Not only will all auction proceeds go to wildfire relief, but a portion of your drink purchases will be donated as well. If you can't cuddle a traumatized koala, this is the next best thing.
Now that late January has arrived, the same weather that seemed festive just thirty days ago seems bleak and interminable. Luckily, the same spirit that kept you warm and cozy last month can help you through the dark, chilly nights of January. Not the Christmas spirit; the spirit called whiskey. On Friday, January 24, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post No. 1 — the first VFW post in the nation — is hosting a whiskey tasting and fundraiser at 7 p.m.; Whiskey Ambassador Ryan Negley will walk guests through the flavor profiles of a group of exclusive beverages and pairings of light bites, after which you'll get a guided tour of the historic building (at 841 Santa Fe Drive), including cocktails in the veterans' art gallery. All of the proceeds from ticket sales ($80 at brownpapertickets.com) go directly to VFW Post No. 1 and its programs.
Saturday, January 25
If you've never seen a bunch of men in skirts talk to a sheep's stomach stuffed with oatmeal and minced sheep parts, your worldview is severely limited. Luckily, you can rectify your experiential oversight without a trip to Scotland on Saturday, January 25; take a (relatively) quick jaunt north to the Niwot Tavern, 7960 Niwot Road, where a traditional Burns Night supper is kicking off at 5 p.m. In addition to the traditional recitation of Robert Burns's Address to a Haggis, there will be neeps and tatties (mashed turnips or rutabagas and potatoes) alongside the infamous dish, which depending on your point of view is either a bargain or a boondoggle at $11.95. And whether you need several slugs of Scotch to stomach the "great chieftan o' the puddin' race" or not, there will be plenty of peaty drink to purchase. Just want to show up for men in kilts? The regular menu will be available, too; details are up on the Tavern's Facebook page.
Regular readers will know we're skeptical when a right- or left-coast chef sweeps into the Mile High City boasting about bringing the next hot concept to the Wild West — but when that chef is bringing twelve courses of wagyu beef to dinner, we're a little more welcoming. On Sunday, January 26, San Diego chef Steve Brown is bringing his Cosecha SD supper club to Denver's Daughter Thai Kitchen and Bar, 1700 Platte Street, where he'll prepare the delicately marbled Japanese meat with ingredients local to Colorado. (While the final menu isn't yet available, you can find past menus on Cosecha's website that include bites like jerky, wagyu tongue and fermented tomatoes, cornbread with miso-wagyu butter, and even wagyu brownies for dessert.) Reserve your spot on the website; while the pop-up is pricey at $225, it includes beef from a number of Japanese prefectures — including cattle raised on olives and sake mash — as well as wine pairings.
The easiest way to do your part for Australian wildlife on Sunday, January 26 (known as Australia Day down under), is by going out for a bite. Stop by either Chook Charcoal Chicken location, 1300 South Pearl Street or 4340 East Eighth Avenue, to pick up a whole bird, and the joint will donate $10 to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. The deal is good for either takeout or eat-in, but if you want to do more, stay at the restaurant and order a round of Great Divide lagers for the table; the brewery is donating the cost of every brew purchased to the cause. If you've got the money (and the guts) to take on a full day of fundraising, visit one — or more — of chef/restaurateur Troy Guard's establishments. All of Guard's eateries will donate 15 percent of the day's sales to the Australia Wildfire Fund, so start the day with brunch at FNG or Hashtag, have (more) drinks at Los Chingones or TAG Burger Bar, then round out the evening with dinner at TAG or Guard and Grace.
Keep reading for future food and drink happenings...