Rats aren't all bad — especially if they're talented and adorable (Remy from Ratatouille), meme-able (Pizza Rat) or the first animal of the zodiac, bringing rebirth and renewal (Lunar New Year). And on Saturday, February 8, you can celebrate the Year of the Rat (which admittedly begins a couple of weeks earlier, on January 25) at the Chinese New Year party put on by the Nathan Yip Foundation. From 5:30 to 11 p.m., ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton Street, will be transformed into an expansive night market, with food stations, games, palm readers, calligraphers and traditional clothing; this year, there will also be a formal Chinese banquet where guests can enjoy traditions such as yu sheng, a salad composed of auspicious ingredients that are mixed at the table by diners to ensure a prosperous new year. Tickets ($250, or $150 for young professionals under 36), along with details and colorful pictures of the event, are available now on the foundation's website.
There are an infinite number of ways to construct a martini; the flashy versions that most catch our attention (and ire!) are the ones that combine random liquors — not gin or vodka — with an off-the-wall flavor and then tack "tini" onto the end (popcorn-tini, anyone?). For the discerning, though, a martini is gin and vermouth; vodka is acceptable, but only in a pinch. On Saturday, February 8, see how Denver bars build their drinks at the Shaken, Not Stirred Martini Party. The annual fundraiser for Boys Hope Girls Hope — a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring, tutoring and scholarships to academically motivated kids from disadvantaged backgrounds — takes over the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, from 7 to 10 p.m., with appetizers and dancing to accompany bartenders' creations. Tickets are $75 or $125 on the Boys Hope Girls Hope website.
Sunday, February 9
Accio pint glass! On Sunday, February 9, all you have to do is swish your wand about to summon good times and cheer at the generically named Wizard's Beer Festival (the wizarding world has become significantly more litigious, it seems). Diebolt Brewing Co., 3855 Mariposa Street, is the site of the shenanigans, with four two-hour sessions throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. and 1:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. There will be tarot card readers, DJs and wand-making classes; your $45 ticket will get you a welcome beer and tickets for five further potions. Just remember: You can't evanesco your hangover the next day. Pick up your tickets at Eventbrite before those sneaky Slytherins find a way to steal them all.
The folks that brought you November's mac and cheese festival are doubling down on dairy with a grilled cheese and beer festival on Saturday, February 15. Yes, after stuffing yourself on ooey, gooey, creamy mac, you can now get your cheese and carb combo in the form of crispy, crunchy sandwiches washed down by craft beer. Show up for unlimited bites from Blake Street Tavern, Maine Shack, Cheese Love Grill and the Brutal Poodle, among others; bottomless brews are courtesy of Horse and Dragon, Mockery, Spice Trade and Zuni Street. Tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite or Facebook for $54 or $89 (the Big Cheese option gets you early entry and full-sized beers instead of samples), though prices are set to increase as the event approaches. Choose from the afternoon (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.) or evening (5 to 8 p.m.) session at Runway 35 Park, 8863 East 47th Avenue.
Friday, February 21, through Sunday, March 1
For ten days in late February, Denver eateries are going to be crammed with diners seeking great deals. Yes, Denver Restaurant Week returns on Friday, February 21, and runs through Sunday, March 1; both longstanding institutions and trendy hot spots will be serving multi-course prix fixe menus offered at just $25, $35 or $45. Visit the event website, where you'll find scrumptious pics of some of last year's most delectable dishes, as well as over 200 participating restaurants and their 2020 menus (some of our favorites include AJ's Pit Bar-B-Q, Il Posto, Vesta and Denver Milk Market). The race for reservations is on! It's you vs. the rest of Denver scrambling to book the best tables in town.
Friday, February 21
An offshoot of the Slow Food movement, the first Slow Wine Guide was published in 2010 and covered only Italian wines; a decade later, it's expanded into California and Oregon. And on Friday, February 21, the Slow Wine Tour lands in Denver. The free tasting is open only to industry folks (business cards and work credentials are required for entry), highlights products from nearly 65 vineyards, and takes place at Asterisk, 1075 Park Avenue West, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the Slow Wine website for more details and a list of producers that will be in attendance, then hit up Eventbrite to RSVP.
Three cheers for restaurateur Troy Guard, whose calendrical skills rival his kitchen chops. The man is hosting a Fat Tuesday event on the day itself: Tuesday, February 25, not the weekend before or (abomination of all abominations) the weekend after, when Lent is already in full swing. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., Commissary (the former Mister Tuna at 3033 Brighton Boulevard), hosts the bacchanal with bites, beverages and a brass band. Guard is bringing in reinforcements in the form of Louisiana boy and Houston chef Drake Leonards of Eunice, and the evening's menu boasts instant classics like shrimp po' boy sliders, crawfish hand pies and Cajun duck poppers. Entry ($45 or $65 on Night Out) includes a drink, unlimited apps and a chef demo for VIP ticketholders.
Thursday, March 5
The annual kickoff to the Boulder International Film Festival, CineChef, returns on Thursday, March 5, with a literal battle of the sexes (there are knives involved, after all). It's the men versus the women as the chefs go head to head at Boulder's Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street; each team will turn out film-inspired fare, with guests voting on the most scrumptious cinematic bites. Participating chefs include Linda Hampsten Fox (the Bindery), Becca Henry (ChoLon) and John Platt (Riffs Urban Fare). Further details and tickets for the 5:30 p.m. event ($100 or $145) are up now on the festival's website.
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, 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 ($200, though you can save $20 by purchasing before January 6), 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 eatery. Find out more about the event on the NKF website.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to [email protected].