What's the most important thing to know about St. Patrick's Day (or amateur hour, as it's commonly known among those who like to feel above the shenanigans)? The date, for starters. It's Sunday, March 17. Not Saturday, March 16, as the organizers of the Denver St. Patrick's Day Parade would have you believe, and definitely not Friday, March 15, as the Dirty Duck Bar, which is serving free corned beef and cabbage that day, seems to think. Despite our pedantry, you can find celebrations around town all weekend; ten of our favorites are listed below, along with information on whether they're amateur, pro-am or professional level. Sláinte!
If you're looking for more traditional St. Paddy's Day celebrations, see our slideshow of ten top Denver Irish pubs, which will all be hosting their own parties.
Blue Moon Brewing Company
3750 Chestnut Place
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Corned beef and cabbage isn't Irish! However, our fevered protestations have had little to no effect on March 17's restaurant menus; while we'll shout it from the rooftops until the last leprechaun has left the pub, we've begrudgingly accepted the prevalence of non-Irish foodstuffs on St. Paddy's Day. Therefore, we present to you...doughnuts and beer. "Why?" you ask. Why not? Pair a baked good — any baked good — with an alcoholic beverage and you've got a viable tasting event. Bagels and bourbon? Muffins and mules? Blue Moon Brewing Company's version pairs four mini-doughnuts with four beers from 1 to 3 p.m., alongside tunes from Fort Vine, a NYC-based folk duo. Tickets, $16, are on sale now on Eventbrite.
The Cherry Cricket
2641 East 2nd Avenue, 303-322-7666
2220 Blake Street, 303-297-3644
Status: Amateur (Ballpark); Pro-am (Cherry Creek)
Denver's legendary burger joint, the Cherry Cricket, knows how to throw a party, and this weekend both locations are going all out, with specials on not just green Coors ($4), but Irish ales and lagers like Killian's ($5), Harp and Smithwick's ($6), and Guinness ($7), plus $5 Tullamore Dew, $6 Jameson and $7 Irish Car Bombs. Also on the menu Saturday and Sunday are an Irish burger, beef stew and (of course) corned beef and cabbage. While the doors at the original Cherry Creek location open at 11 a.m., early birds will want to get to the Ballpark outpost at 8 a.m. on Saturday for breakfast burritos and drinks prior to the the parade; on St. Patrick's Day itself, Ballpark will open at its usual 11 a.m.
Improper City3201 Walnut Street
RiNo food truck collective Improper City is hewing close to its name and celebrating St. Patrick's Day starting on Saturday, March 16, with brunch at 11 a.m. Irish coffee and black-and-tans will be the drinks of choice on the patio all day, while the best part of the afternoon has to be Root Insurance's free shuttles running between Improper City, the Ginn Mill and Revel Social from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday promises to be mellower: Brunch kicks off at 11 a.m., with a bagpipe band taking the stage at noon. Visit the event Facebook page for more details, including the food truck and music lineup.
The Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery
3200 Larimer Street, 303-736-8376
2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
Is drinking a bright-green alcoholic beverage any classier if it's not beer, but wine? The Infinite Monkey Theorem, Denver's best known winery, would like you to think so — and unlike the Coors Light you're likely to "enjoy" at most bars around town this weekend, IMT's concoction will actually taste good, thanks to winemaker Ben Parsons's excellent products. Both locations will be serving up green wine slushies to honor St. Paddy (the Denver tasting room from 2 to 9 p.m., the Aurora outpost from noon to 8 p.m., with an Irish dance performance at 12:45 p.m.), so you can sip, slurp and remain smug in your swankiness while still getting snockered.
21st Street between Larimer and Lawrence streets
Status: Pro-am, but only because of the rosé
Never an area of town to pass up a weekend-long street party, the Ballpark neighborhood is rolling out the green carpet for Irishfest Denver from Friday, March 15, through Sunday, March 17. Friday and Saturday nights boast that old Irish tradition, the silent disco, but if you're a purist, you can wake up with the Irish coffee bar (stocked with Corvus coffee and Paddy's Old Irish Whiskey) starting at 7 a.m. on the day itself, then stick around for a Bloody Mary bar at 10 a.m., followed by BOGO rosé, Guinness Irish stew and other neighborhood faves from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs and Marco's Coal Fired. Admission to the party (along with Irish music and dance performances) is free; find out more and get the entire weekend's schedule on Irishfest's website.
1509 Marion Street
Say what you want about Poles (wait...don't), but at least they know when St. Patrick's Day is. Kinga's Lounge, the Polish bar just off Colfax Avenue, is opening its doors at 10 a.m. on Sunday, with traditional American drinks taking center stage: Green beer, breakfast shots, Irish coffee, Bushmills and Irish car bombs are all on special (you'll be reliving your junior year of college as well as celebrating the occasion). Looking for fusion cuisine? The kitchen will be turning out green pierogies, as well. Details are up on the bar's Facebook page.
Lumber Baron Inn
2555 West 37th Avenue
If you can't stomach a slug or three of whiskey first thing in the morning, visit Highland landmark and bed-and-breakfast the Lumber Baron Inn, which only fires up the stove for its guests on weekdays, but on weekends, the Inn opens its doors to the public. And this Sunday, the Lumber Baron is upping the ante with an Irish breakfast in the parlor. For $35 ($20 for children), guests will get a delicious and traditional meal in an impressive historical setting that's said to be seriously haunted; offerings include crempogs (Welsh pancakes that have immigrated to the Emerald Isle) and bubble and squeak (a potato and cabbage hash that gets its evocative name from the sound it makes while frying). Reservations are required; call for yours.
6115 East 22nd Avenue
Status: Junior division
Park Hill diners with children in tow (there's no other kind) and a loose grasp on geography will want to consider dinner at Oblio's Pizzeria on Sunday, when the joint is celebrating the Emerald Isle by bringing in the Scottish Princess Merida (details, details). During the 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. dinner seatings, kiddos will be entertained by Celtic songs, archery lessons and a wee bit o' dancing; parents will be entertained by drink specials and corned-beef-and-cabbage pizza. The pizzeria's Facebook page also promises that a "real life" leprechaun will be on hand, though we're even less sure about the suitability of the mythological figure making an appearance than we are about a Scotswoman showing up to celebrate St. Patrick; those little guys are nasty. But if you're willing to brave the cultural incongruity, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a reservation.
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2229 Blake Street
While the late Fadó Irish Pub hasn't disgorged inebriated and very, very loud revelers onto the streets of LoDo at 2 a.m. for a couple of years now, its spirit lives on this March, as the now-shuttered establishment still lends its name to the (take a deep breath now) Fadó Irish Pub St. Patrick's Day Block Party. These days, the folks behind Revel Social and Mile High Spirits are running the party, which will be held outside, rain or shine or snow, on Saturday, March 16 (at 10 a.m.), and Sunday, March 17 (at noon). Jameson and green beer will fuel partiers, so expect green puke to also make an appearance (watch your step). Tickets are available for $64 per pair (includes a full day of bands and DJs plus two drinks) on the Altitude Tickets website, and details about the music lineup are up on Fadó's semi-functional website.
1440 Larimer Street
If it's not clear by now, Denver's St. Patrick's Day celebrations skew toward the boozy and inauthentic. In this spirit, we're throwing our hands heavenward, embracing the cognitive and cultural dissonance, and recommending Tamayo's Irish-inspired Mexican brunch from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. At this Larimer Square mainstay, corned beef doesn't even pretend to be Irish; it's served as a taco, with cabbage, potatoes and serranos also piled atop the tortilla. The pepino margarita (made with cucumber purée and served with a green salt rim) stands in for green beer. As any Denverite knows, brunch reservations are always a no-brainer; make yours on Tamayo's website.