Things to Do

The Eight Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Bar Helix invites you to suck a Negroni. The Suck My Negroni cocktail is made with egg whites and comes with a housemade Negroni lollipop.
Bar Helix invites you to suck a Negroni. The Suck My Negroni cocktail is made with egg whites and comes with a housemade Negroni lollipop. Mark Antonation
Channel your inner Hermione or Harry Potter, meet some adoptable puppies, indulge in the best and bitterest cocktail, or chow down at a whiskey or pulque and chicha dinner this week. Here are eight great food and drink events around town, plus a few more for the rest of December and even into the new year.

click to enlarge Tequila is bad for dogs (even if they're giving you puppy eyes). - FLICKR/DINKO SRKOC
Tequila is bad for dogs (even if they're giving you puppy eyes).
Flickr/Dinko Srkoc
Monday, December 16
This time of year, it's all holiday pop-ups and parties, but on Monday, December 16, you won't want to miss an event that promises better company and less challenging footwear than a fancy cocktail hour with your girlfriend's snooty co-workers. It's Puppies and Patrón, a (very) happy hour and holiday market hosted by Lifeline Puppy Rescue, a no-kill shelter rescuing the best (and smallest!) boys and girls from across the Rocky Mountain region. From 6 to 10 p.m., show up at Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, to meet puppies, drink tequila specials and shop from local vendors. There's no admission fee, but you are requested to RSVP on Eventbrite to ensure that there are enough doggos on hand that everyone gets a sloppy puppy kiss for the holidays.

click to enlarge Maine Shack is serving up whole lobstahs in addition to its regular menu this Tuesday. - MARK ANTONATION
Maine Shack is serving up whole lobstahs in addition to its regular menu this Tuesday.
Mark Antonation
Tuesday, December 17
Homesick Northeasterners won't want to miss Maine Shack's holiday lobster bake on Tuesday, December 17. All day — doors open at 11 a.m. — the seafood house, 1535 Central Street, is selling a whole lobster and steamer clams with butter, potato salad and coleslaw for $40, or two of the Christmas-colored crustaceans and sides for $60. The aquatic creepy-crawlies run about a pound each, and Portland, Maine's Bissel Brothers Brewing will be on hand pouring a trio of their beers. For every Hamilton you lay down, you'll also get a raffle ticket to enter into either a merch raffle or a concert ticket raffle (prizes include two tix to any upcoming show at venues including Red Rocks and Mission Ballroom). Plus, 10 percent of food and drink sales for the day will be donated to Mile High United Way, which makes shelling out the big bucks for sea creatures in our famously landlocked state much more palatable, indeed.

Still haven't decided on your signature holiday drink this year? There's still time! May we humbly suggest the Negroni? The bright-crimson cocktail looks festive AF, but has a bitter flavor profile that's perfect for the time of year you spent inordinate amounts of time with family, co-workers, your partner's family, your partner's co-workers and other assorted miscreants. Learn how to make the drink at Bar Helix, 3440 Larimer Street, on Tuesday, December 17. From 6:30 to 8 p.m., you'll learn how to make three different variations on the theme along with three full-sized cocktails (for research purposes, of course), snacks and a swag bag. Class is just $39 — which for everyone who's been out for cocktails recently in Denver knows, is the deal of the year. Get your tickets now at Eventbrite.


click to enlarge An example of Ian Kleinman's desserts at a previous pop-up dinner. - MICHAEL EMERY HECKER
An example of Ian Kleinman's desserts at a previous pop-up dinner.
Michael Emery Hecker
Wednesday, December 18
Sarto's Wednesday, December 18, dinner isn't technically a Feast of the Seven Fishes (it's not happening on Christmas Eve, and it doesn't include seven seafood dishes), but if you're not a purist, it'll be close enough — and by "close enough," we mean "delicious." The Jefferson Park kitchen, 2900 West 25th Avenue, is turning out six courses plus a briny appetizer (okay, it's seven fishes if you squint), including salt cod gnocchi tater tots with lemon aioli, lobster bisque and spaghetti with a spicy shrimp puttanesca sauce. Even dessert includes the fruits of the ocean with a bottarga (cured fish roe) crumble over vanilla gelato. Make your reservations for the 6:30 p.m. dinner by calling 303-455-1400; the cost is $75, plus optional wine pairings for $35.

What better theme for dessert virtuoso Ian Kleinman to tackle than the wizarding world of Harry Potter? The theme and date of the chef's next Gobblefunk dinner has just been released — Christmas at Hogwarts on Wednesday, December 18, at 6:30 p.m. — and as with all of Kleinman's pop-up dinners, this one is sure to sell out well before the menu is finalized. But with the regular offerings at the Inventing Room Dessert Shop, 4433 West 29th Avenue, including exploding whipped cream and ice cream noodles, we're sure the evening will be nothing short of magical. To reserve your spot for the $100 dinner, call 303-885-2802. If you haven't been blown away by Kleinman's creations yet, visit the Shop's website for previous Gobblefunk menus and to sign up for its newsletter, which is the quickest way to learn about upcoming feasts.

The traditional beverage to accompany a French feast starts with "w": That's right, whiskey. At least that's what you'll get at Bistro Vendôme's Laws whiskey dinner on Wednesday, December 18. At 7 p.m., the kitchen at 1420 Larimer Street will be turning out four courses paired with five of the Denver distiller's amber creations. The menu promises to be a mouthwatering mashup of Gallic flavors and New World influences, like candied duck prosciutto accompanied by guajillo gastrique, and mezcal venison prepared sous vide and served with wild mushrooms. Likewise, the all-American drink pairings will have a Continental touch, with two varieties being finished in Armagnac and sauternes barrels. Call the restaurant at 303-825-3232 to make your reservation for the $110 meal.

click to enlarge The colorful taproom at Dos Luces hosts equally colorful cuisine at its December 19 beer dinner. - PIRIE ASSOCIATES
The colorful taproom at Dos Luces hosts equally colorful cuisine at its December 19 beer dinner.
Pirie Associates
Thursday, December 19
Dos Luces Brewery, 1236 South Broadway, has stayed true to its mission of producing pre-Hispanic tipples since it opened last year. And while its commitment to brewing agave and corn-based beverages like pulque and chicha seems like it would limit the outfit's market, it found the perfect partner for its Thursday, December 19, beer dinner: Four Directions Cuisine, which combines ingredients from indigenous cultures in Latin and North America to create a pan-native style of cooking. Courses includes salad with roasted winter squash, popped amaranth and elderberry balsamic, sweet potato hash with duck and juniper berry sauce, and wild rice pudding, all paired with very non-traditional variations of traditional brews like cranberry tepache (traditionally fermented from pineapple peels), passion fruit-orange zest chicha and ponche pulque (or pulque punch). Tickets for the three-course, 6:30 p.m. dinner are just $65 (inclusive of tax and tip) and are on sale now on the Dos Luces website.


click to enlarge For her latest TV special, Lidia traveled around the country — including a stop in Denver. - COURTESY LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: RETURN OF THE ARTISANS
For her latest TV special, Lidia traveled around the country — including a stop in Denver.
Courtesy Lidia Celebrates America: Return of the Artisans
Friday, December 20
Before Giada was a twinkle in anyone's eye, there was Lidia Bastianich, who ruled public television cooking shows by cooking Italian and Italian-American specialties, confounding viewers with her definition of "a little" olive oil and bossing around her grown children (all restaurateurs in their own right) and her own mother whenever they appeared on her show. She's also authored over fifteen cookbooks, and recently visited Comal Heritage Food Incubator for the latest installment of her television special, Lidia Celebrates America: Return of the Artisans. The episode, airing on Friday, December 20, at 8 p.m. on PBS, features Erika Rojas, who graduated from the food incubator and training program and has since started her own business, Prieto's Catering; see a preview of Lidia and Erika on PBS's website. Tune in, and then contact Prieto's for your next party, and visit Comal, 3455 Ringsby Court, for your next weekday lunch.

And if you're planning ahead...

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Amy Antonation knows that street tacos are infinitely superior to tacos that come covered in squiggles of crema, and she will stab you with her knitting needles if you try to convince her otherwise.
Contact: Amy Antonation