Things to Do

The Five Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Alpaca sweater, and Denver breweries will bring the booze to Denver Beer Festivus.
Alpaca sweater, and Denver breweries will bring the booze to Denver Beer Festivus. Danielle Lirette
Bivalves, beer, benefits and booze are on the menu this weekend, but if you don't care for any of those, we've also rounded up whimsical events that celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and the defeat of You-Know-Who through the end of December.

click to enlarge Work from artist Scott Young, whose studio is the site of December 13's Knockout Cancer dinner. - JORDAN SPENCER
Work from artist Scott Young, whose studio is the site of December 13's Knockout Cancer dinner.
Jordan Spencer
Friday, December 13
In partnership with the Knockout art exhibit that opened at the Dairy Block on December 1, chef Kelly Whitaker (Basta, Wolf's Tailor, Bruto) is cooking a Knockout Cancer dinner on Friday, December 13, that benefits First Descents, a nonprofit organization that provides free outdoor experiences for people impacted by cancer and other serious illnesses. Billed as an "experiential" and "immersive" dinner produced by Thrice, the evening begins at 6 p.m. at Bruto, 1801 Blake Street, with cocktails and oysters before moving to neon artist Scott Young's studio at 1821 Blake Street, where dinner and drinks from Blanchard Family Wines and Run for the Roses will be followed by an art auction. Tickets, $165, are on sale now at Eventbrite.

From now through December 31, Panzano and Hotel Monaco (at 909 17th Street) are partnering with the Denver Zoo for a Zoo Lights-themed pop-up in Panzano’s lounge. Zoo fans already know that each winter the Denver Zoo is decorated with beautiful lights and sculptures, and the theme will carry through to Panzano with twinkling lights, lanterns, palms and animal sculptures. But the restaurant has something you won't find anywhere else: a  Zoo Lights cocktail menu with specialty drinks named after the Panzano team’s favorite animals. Drink up, animal-style; a portion of proceeds will go to the Denver Zoo.

click to enlarge Give a shuck at Morin on December 14. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Give a shuck at Morin on December 14.
Danielle Lirette
Saturday, December 14
Nothing is better on New Year's Eve than champagne, and nothing goes better with champagne than oysters. And while the new year is a mere two weeks away, that's still enough time to get some bottles of bubbly and learn how to shuck some of the fiddly little sea creatures, thanks to Morin's oyster-shucking and tasting class on Saturday, December 14. From 2 to 3:30 p.m., Ben Wolven, the French eatery's oyster and raw bar manager (not to mention winner of oyster-shucking championships in two states and top-ten finisher at the World Oyster Invitational) will teach the class, where you'll learn about differences in East and West Coast bivalves, how to source the critters and how to pry them open without removing a finger or two. Tuition, $125, includes tasting (of both oysters and wine), hands-on lessons, and all the gear you need to continue practicing at home; email [email protected] to reserve your spot in the intimate class.

Of all the reasons to get rip-roaring drunk, the holidays are high on the list. Between awkward, mandatory office parties, gift-giving expenses and anxiety, fraught family dynamics and endless repetitions of Last Christmas (though the Wham! music video is a legit classic that should be viewed once and only once each December — sound is optional), it's no surprise that many of us want to shut down our brain cells with some tasty ethanol. For those who don't even celebrate the holiday, the endless hoopla surrounding snow and Santa is even more painful. Enter Festivus, the holiday anyone can celebrate, with traditions that appeal to our universal human nature. Add beer, and you get the Denver Beer Festivus, where the Feats of Strength are fueled by Denver breweries' favorite beers. This year, the aluminum pole is being set up on Saturday, December 14, at Major Studios, 3881 Steele Street; come ready to air your grievances from 3 to 6 p.m. Tickets, $45 or $60, are for sale on the event's website.

click to enlarge The Block Distilling Co. is releasing its first whiskey on December 15. - MARIA LEVITOV PHOTOGRAPHY
The Block Distilling Co. is releasing its first whiskey on December 15.
Maria Levitov Photography
Sunday, December 15
The Block Distilling Co., our Best New Distillery of last year, is adding whiskey to its lineup of vodka, gins and coffee liqueur on Sunday, December 15. On the anniversary of the outfit's second year in business, the beverage that's been residing in barrels for the past two years is finally being brought into the world at a whiskey release party running from noon to 10 p.m. at the tasting room, 2990 Larimer Street. Each guest will be able to purchase two of the 700 bottles that were produced (the first hundred customers get a swanky canvas and leather gift bag), plus cocktails, neat pours and grub from the Pasty Republic food truck. And while entry to the distillery is free, you're requested to RSVP to the party on the Block's website, where you can also find all the afternoon's details.

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