It's a good week to party, as there's present-buying (and -wrapping) for procrastinators, pork, pies, parm and pastries on the program this week. Here are the most-prized projects from Monday, December 18, through Friday, December 22.
Monday, December 18
Highland Tavern, 3400 Navajo Street, seems older than it is; it's got the vibe of a dive bar that's been there for generations and has been scrubbed a little too clean recently, even though it opened a mere eleven years ago. It's a neighborhood place that knows what its customers want — and what the people want, apparently, is some last-minute holiday shopping upstairs and some of the best tater tots in town. The Procrastinator's Holiday Pop-Up Market takes place on Monday, December 18, from 5 to 9 p.m., with locally made jewelry, art, glassware and pottery for sale upstairs while you enjoy stupidly cheap beer (happy hour starts at 4 p.m.) and elevated pub food downstairs; Facebook has more information. If you have to buy last-minute presents, you might as well do it in a bar — and buy yourself a little holiday cheer while you're at it.
Frasca's new baby sister, Tavernetta (1889 16th Street), continues its Ten Days of Christmas with a different festive dish created by chef Ian Wortham each night until Christmas. The menu is scheduled to include Italian classics like osso buco (veal shank, saffron rice and gremolata), tortellini in brodo (smoked chicken, mortadella, and prosciutto), and pappardelle with wild boar ragú and olio nuovo. Wine director Carlin Karr has also rustled up an impressive lineup of special wines chosen to complement the featured dish of the evening. For daily updates on dishes and wines that will be served, follow Tavernetta on Instagram (@tavernettadenver). Then call 720-605-1889 to book a table.
Tuesday, December 19
The best thing about the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the preponderance of pie: pumpkin, apple, pecan, sweet potato, test pies, holiday pies, leftover pies, store-bought, homemade, miniature, full-sized — they're all delicious. Stem Ciders, 2811 Walnut Street, is working with the fabulous Long I Pie Shop on Tuesday, December 19, for a Pie and Cider Pairing that will assist you in meeting your pie-consumption goals for the month. Four mini-pies (pear and marzipan, eggnog custard, apple cranberry and bourbon chocolate pecan) will be paired with four ciders for just $20. The event is first come, first served, so get there early — noshing starts at 5 p.m. — to beat the swarm of hungry pie-ficionados that will surely decimate the neighborhood like a plague of locusts before the night is out. (Fun fact: This was the lesser-known eleventh plague of Egypt.) See Stem's Facebook page for complete details.
There are two types of people in the world: those whose Christmas shopping is completed by December 19 and those who haven't even started. Both kinds can enjoy The Englewood Tavern's Gangster Wrap Night on Tuesday, December 19. The unapologetic neighborhood bar will be supplying gift-wrapping supplies, old-school tunes, holiday drinks and cookies starting at 7 p.m. So if you're ready to wrap, you can tell yourself it was a good day because your presents got prepped in plenty of time, and if you're a slacker...well, just enjoy the music and keep drinking that gin and juice to silence the nagging voices in the back of your head telling you to get your ass in gear. See the Tavern's Facebook page for details.
After visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, you're going to want something bitter to balance all the sweet at this time of year. Fortunately, Spuntino (2639 West 32nd Avenue) has been amassing a collection of rare vintage spirits from Italy so that you can buy yourself an early Christmas gift. From Tuesday, December 19, until whenever supplies run out (with a break from December 22 to 29, when the restaurant will be closed), you can reserve yourself a disco-era Negroni made with Plymouth gin, Campari and Punt e Mes vermouth — all from bottles filled in the early 1970s. Or sample an ounce of Chinato (from the historic producer Marchesi di Barolo) from a bottle that's more than fifty years old. If neither of those strikes your fancy, opt for a duo of Braulio bottlings, a special reserve from 2010 and a 1964 vintage. The Negroni runs $35, the Chinato is $16 and the Braulio flight is $35, but proceeds will be donated to Shadhika, which supports charities in India that benefit girls' education. Call 303-433-0949 to reserve, since supplies are extremely limited. And, of course, stay for dinner if you go.
Wednesday, December 20
Wednesday, December 20, isn't quite the shortest day of the year (December 21 earns that honor), but the one extra second of daylight on Hump Day isn't enough to make you forget we're smack in the middle of winter. So it's the perfect time for a luau to make you feel like you're sitting on a beach with crystal-clear water lapping at your toes. Adrift, 218 South Broadway, is just the place to create the illusion: Enter its warmly lit interior, order a wickedly strong umbrella drink, and settle in for Polynesian dancers, hula lessons, and a Hawaiian buffet with kahlua pork, macaroni salad and all the sides. The buffet runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and costs $20; see Adrift's Facebook page for details. Reservations are required, so call 303-778-8454 for yours, then start packing your bags (flip-flops, bikini, sunscreen) for your mid-week beach bash.
Thursday, December 21
Marry the classic (chicken parmesan) with the trendy (pop-up anything) and what do you have? The most compelling cheese event of the week: Frank Bonanno's Parm Pop-Up at Luca, 711 Grant Street, on Thursday, December 21. For $35, you'll get three courses: meatballs or a spinach salad; Asiago-and-pork ravioli or wild-mushroom fusilli; and your choice of entree — veal Parmesan, eggplant Parmesan or the better-than-basic burrata-stuffed chicken Parmesan. Select bottles of wine will be on special for $20, and there will also be an optional wine pairing if you can't decide what color vino best accessorizes with the food on your plate. Call 303-832-6600 for reservations.
Friday, December 22
It's such a pleasure when someone makes things easy for you during the busy holiday, and the fine folks at Bear Creek Distillery, 1879 South Acoma Street, have cleverly done so by anticipating your most burning needs — sugar, booze and last-minute gifts — and bringing them together. From 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 22, stop by the distillery for Cookies and Cocktails, a collab between Bear Creek and Good Sugar Baking. You'll get four cookies paired with four cocktails for just $12 (a bargain considering how much you probably paid for your last cocktail), plus the opportunity to finish up your Christmas shopping with a cookie gift basket (hopefully they include the bakery's unique tomato cookies) or a bottle of whiskey, rum or vodka. Details are up on Bear Creek's Facebook page. If only everything in life was this easy.
Keep reading for more food and drink events in the new year.
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Saturday, January 6
If you only go to one beer festival in 2018, make it the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines festival on Saturday, January 6. Yes, it's only six days into the year, but we guarantee there won't be any better event for fans of dark, sweet, spicy, malty, high-alcohol beers in the state. Over 120 breweries (Dogfish Head, Paradox, Duvel and Jester King among them) will be pouring suds from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the Beaver Run Conference Center, 620 Village Road in Breckenridge, and for die-hard beer geeks (or pros), seminars earlier that morning are included in the $75 ticket price. Visit bigbeersfestival.com for a complete schedule of events through the weekend, and start planning for a weekend getaway as epic as the fest itself.
Friday, February 23
Gentle readers who still get bent out of shape that Westword covers Boulder as well as Denver: CineCHEF 2018 is the event for you. The event's fourth iteration happens on Friday, February 28, 2018, at Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street in Boulder, when Boulder chefs face off against Denver chefs to prove who can create the tastiest, most creative bite based on a beloved film. Last year's roster included Daniel Asher of River and Woods serving smoked scallops, ceviche and Peruvian chile in an homage to Up in Smoke, and Steven Redzikowski of Oak at Fourteenth tapping Mia Wallace to hand out miniature burgers and a $5 shake à la Pulp Fiction. Tickets, $95, are on sale now at ticketfly.com and include admission to the film Michelin Stars: Tales From the Kitchen. So, gentle readers, etc., purchase your tickets and start planning the long and dangerous trip up to The Town That Totally Isn't Part of Denver to support your hometown heroes as they compete in hostile territory.
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