It's official: Rosé is passé — at least this weekend, when the drink of choice around Denver isn't pink. Instead, it's amber. The days ahead include a trio of whiskey events to wet your whistle, plus everything from sugar spinning to beer bashes to bake sales. Find the details below, then keep reading for some of the best food and drink events over the next few months.
Friday, May 31
If you want your drinks to not only make you feel tipsy but also look good on the ’gram, you'll want to hit up Chroma Mixology on Friday, May 31. The pop-up bar (put on by Thrice and hosted at Uchi, 2500 Lawrence Street) will combine light projections, silent disco and seven rainbow-hued cocktails for an immersive art experience from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m.; there will also be an aura reader on hand to tell you what color you're projecting into the universe (and, no, black isn't a color). Find out more on Thrice's website, then RSVP on Eventbrite.
Saturday, June 1
Ring in June with some light, refreshing, boozy beverages that aren't beer (or rosé!) at Courier. The restaurant at 1750 Welton Street is rolling out a Stem Ciders pairing menu on Saturday, June 1, that will run through the end of the month. For $45, guests will get three courses (fish tacos with fruit salsa; harissa-braised lamb and pear chutney; and a floral panna cotta) paired with Stem's crowd-pleasing Hibiscus Session, Pear Apple and Off-Dry ciders. Find the menu on Courier's website, where you can also make reservations.
If the extent of your baking experience is whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and then refusing to bake it in favor of enjoying bites of raw dough for the next week (a valid choice!), turn back now. But bakers who enjoy the entire process of mixing, cooking and decorating should consider investing in this weekend's workshops with sugar sculptor Gregoire Goel. Cake Crafts, 4105 South Broadway in Englewood, is hosting the sugar art classes. On Saturday, June 1, you'll make an adorable dragon by pulling, pouring and blowing sugar, and from Sunday, June 2, through Monday, June 3, you'll sculpt a Ratatouille-inspired piece. Tuition runs from $300 to $600 for the elaborate workshops; take a look at the class details and photos of Goel's amazing work on the store's website.
Pray to whatever deity controls the weather (Chris Hemsworth? Halle Berry?) that the sun shines on Lyons on Saturday, June 1, so revelers at the annual Burning Can Festival will only suffer from sunburn and not be swept away in a flash flood. The tents go up and beers start flowing from a mix of local and national brewers like 21st Amendment, Bell's, Eddyline, Cigar City and Sanitas at 3 p.m., but the action starts much earlier in the day, with a dock dog competition, cornhole, yoga, a bike ride and the remarkably bad idea that is the Beer Relay (run 5K, chug beer, hand off baton, repeat for four hours) kicking off as early as 10 a.m. at Bohn Park, 199 Second Avenue in Lyons. Admission to the beer festival will run you $49 or $69 on Burning Can's website; if you're determined to combine your drinking and fitness for a cocktail that ultimately ends in extreme dehydration, register for the relay for $55 (or $60 the day of) on the race website.
It's tiki time, so don your your Hawaiian shirts and...kilts? Scotland's part of the British Isles, after all, so technically cocktails made with peaty Ardbeg whisky have an island vibe. At least, that's what Brass Tacks, 1526 Blake Street, is betting on with its smoky tiki party on Saturday, June 1. Starting at 5 p.m., the bar's mezzanine will turn into a tiki lounge, with umbrella drinks based on single malt from Islay instead of Caribbean rum. The evening promises to be an unusual mix of smoky and sweet. Let's just hope Saturday's weather is more Aruba than Argyll.
If you turn up your nose at the marriage of whiskey and tiki drinks, avert your eyes, sensitive soul. Because Saturday, June 1, brings the Whiskey Throwdown and Doughnut Showdown to the Mile High City. Number 38 event center, 3560 Chestnut Place, welcomes sweet (and smoky) tooths for the seventh year of this profane pairing, where over-the-top pastries collide with spirits from over twenty distilleries. There are two sessions (2:30 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m.), and tickets range from $45 to $75, including a booze-free, doughnut-only option (though we have to wonder, when faced with the choice of oddball excess versus plain old overpricing, who opts to pay $45 for a bunch of fried cake?). Snag your tickets on the Throwdown's website, where you can also peruse a list of participating bakeries and beverage producers.
Sunday, June 2
The bake sale: a time-honored event for raising money for elementary schools and kids' sporting teams. But raising money to provide reproductive education and health care for the women who actually carry and give birth to those kids? Apparently that's a controversial stance. But we love the Bake Sale for Planned Parenthood that The Populist, 3163 Larimer Street, is hosting on Sunday, June 2. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., some of Denver's best pastry chefs will donate goodies to the sale, with 100 percent of sales (including booze, because the attacks on women's bodily autonomy across the country are enough to drive people of any gender to drink) benefiting Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. The bites we're most excited about include tahini brownies from Safta, flaky palmiers from Morin, babka from Rosenberg's and the elaborate (and utterly decadent) Paris-Brest pastry from Alina Martell Acosta. Visit the Populist's Facebook page for details (and some hilariously ineffective trolling).
Sunday, June 2, marks the sixth time that Ace Eat Serve, 501 East 17th Avenue, will put away the ping-pong tables in favor of poultry for Wings & Whiskey. The event, a fundraiser for the Denver Housing Authority's Youth Culinary Academy, brings eight restaurants in town together to pit their crispy, spicy, saucy or smoky version of the bar bite against one another — and you're the lucky judge. From 4 to 7 p.m., you'll get unlimited bird and beer, three whiskey cocktails (or sake) and the chance to enter the wing-eating contest, all for just $55. Don't chicken out: Pick up your tickets on Ace's website.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, June 15
Despite the evolved price tag (tickets run a hefty $150 to $200), Heritage Fire Snowmass is the summer food fest that most appeals to our primal core. There aren't many aromas as evocative as wood smoke and roasting meat; it's the earliest — some would say purest — form of cooking, and makes our mouths water like nothing else. Come Saturday, June 15, over fifty chefs and butchers (including Lon Symensma, Hosea Rosenberg, Steve Redzikowski and Adam Vero) will converge on Snowmass Base Village from 5 to 7:30 p.m., along with 2,500 pounds of whole heritage-breed animals, open fires and free-flowing wine, spirits and craft beer. Add the pristine mountain setting, and you've got an event that satisfies your soul and stomach on a fundamental level. Snag your tickets (and see what your favorite chef will be cooking) at Cochon555's website.
Thursday, June 20
Shake Shack? Not here, not at the Big Eat, the biggest celebration of local independent eateries in town. Over sixty restaurants, breweries and distilleries will gather at the Denver Performing Arts complex under the glass galleria to put out unlimited food and drink pairings that reflect Denver's true food scene, with nary a campy Rocky Mountain oyster in sight. Instead, there will be mainstays that have been upping Denver's game for decades (Vesta, Duo, TAG) as well as newcomers bringing inspiration from across the globe (Liberati, Cirque Kitchen). While national chains are finally starting to look to our city as a viable market, we've had everything we need here all along — and the Big Eat proves it. Tickets are $65; get them and find out more at eatdenver.com.
Thursday, June 27
Nobody loves tacos more than we do — but can you eat $135 worth of them? If you can't, it's not for lack of opportunity at this year's Top Taco. The annual competition takes place on Thursday, June 27, at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, when more than fifty restaurants around town will go head-to-head to see who can serve the best iteration of the classic Mexican street food. There will be tacos for all tastes: street-style (Cilantro & Perejil, Adelitas, Las Delicias), crowd-pleasers (Uno Mas, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Los Chingones) and WTF (Tupelo Honey, Syrup). Not only will tacos fill your tummy, but tequila and margs are also on tap. Still don't think you can stuff over a hundred bucks worth of food in your estómago? Not to worry: GA tickets start at $75 on the event website.
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Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21
Slow Food Nations appeals to everyone (except, perhaps, unrepentant fast-food aficionados). The international food fest kicks off its third year in town on Friday, July 19, and will run nearly forty chef demos, lectures, workshops, parties and dinners — plus the enormous Taste Marketplace, with over 100 vendors hawking their wares and handing out samples — through Sunday, July 21. About half the events taking place around town (but mainly around Larimer Square at Larimer and 14th streets) are free, but the rest require tickets, which start at $20. Visit the Slow Food Nations website to see the whole weekend's schedule and make sure you nab tickets for your can't-miss events.
Saturday, August 17
Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by the city's top cantinas, taquerias and food trucks, including Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Antojitos La Poblanita, Carniceria Aaliyah, El Gallo Blanco, Issai's Catering, Kachina Cantina, La Fiesta, Los Chingones, Lucha Cantina, Mariscos El Rey 2, Los Mesones, Neveria Jedany's, Taco Block, Torta Grill, Yareth's, El Coco Pirata and more. Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com.
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