Over the years, many things have occurred on February 14. In the interest of brevity, we'll stick to just two: The date is both the feast day of two early Christian martyrs and the date seven men were slaughtered by Al Capone's thugs in 1929. Also in the interest of brevity, we present to you an abbreviated list of ten Valentine's Day happenings around town where you can drink and dine. And while VD is often associated with a burning sensation (getting scorched by the candle as you reach across the table to take your lover's hand) and expensive treatment (flowers, gifts, dinner at a crowded restaurant), these events are a little off the beaten path. If you're a traditionalist, there are plenty of great prix fixe options at some of our favorite joints around town (the Bindery, Señor Bear, Goed Zuur and Morin, just to name a few), but if you're looking for something a bit quirkier, keep reading.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
4255 West Colfax Avenue, 720-577-4720
7301 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 720-588-4107
Dinner and a movie: the classic date. This Valentine's Day, Alamo is bringing two epic love stories to the silver screen: Armand and Albert from The Birdcage will light up the night near Sloan's Lake, while Shaun and Liz reaffirm their love while battling brain eaters in Shaun of the Dead at the Littleton location. Each movie comes with a celebratory feast, either a three-course Wedding Feast inspired by the legendary cooking of Agador Spartacus (and, we can only hope, served on evocative dinnerware) and paired with beer, wine and a cocktail ($60), or a hearty English meal taken from the Winchester's menu and accompanied by Epic Brewing Company beers ($55). Both shows start at 7 p.m. and tickets are available at drafthouse.com, but they're going quickly, so you'll need to move faster than a sauntering John Wayne or mob of the undead to snag yours.
As with many tiny taprooms tucked into strip malls, Baere is unlikely to catch your eye; you're more likely to be watching out for pedestrians, buses and dick driving moves on this stretch of Broadway. But this brewery is criminally underrated, and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show it some love. A ubiquitous beer-and-cupcake pairing kicks off at 5 p.m. (sweets for your sweet will be $18 in advance or $20 at the door), but more important is the release of Bourbruin, a sour brown ale aged in Laws whiskey barrels for nine months, and Palisade Bing Bourbruin, that same ale aged on fresh cherries. Baere has a way with tart brews, so we're particularly excited to nab a few of these 375 ml bottles for $12. Find out more at baerebrewing.com, and don't be concerned about showing up to the taproom solo: You can wallow in sour beer even if you're soured on love.
Bear Creek Distillery
1879 South Acoma Street
You're definitely going to be drinking on February 14 — it's a regular Thursday night, after all. Why not pick your poison at this cozy south Denver distillery, where local gypsy and swing band Half Pint and the Growlers will be performing canciones de amor y bebida (that's "songs of love and drinking," but sexier)? Don't care about the love songs? Focus on the excellent cocktails, which are fashioned from the distillery's own wheat bourbon, rye vodka, spiced and cask-strength rum, white lightning and more. Tunes start at 7 p.m.; see the distillery's Facebook page for more info.
4280 Tennyson Street
1635 Platte Street
Looking for love this month? Go about it the old-fashioned way (and then pause to wonder when speed dating became old-fashioned) at a pair of dating events at BookBar and Cerveceria Colorado on February 14. Well-read singles should hit up BookBar at 6 p.m., where conversational prompts will lean toward the literary; craft-beer aficionados can take a stab at meeting their soulmate over cervezas at the taproom at 7 p.m. Your first drink is included in the ticket price at both places; BookBar also offers additional events for queer and nonbinary folks on February 21 and 28, and Cerveceria includes bites along with brews and banter. Find tickets and details at eventbrite.com (BookBar, $27) and nightout.com (Cerveceria Colorado, $15).
1450 South Broadway
Nestled among the dispensaries of South Broadway is a storefront selling a different brand of herbal infusion (albeit with a selection of munchies rivaling any stoner's spread). And on February 14, Capital Tea is offering a very civilized Valentine's Day High Tea with seatings from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. For ninety minutes, you can enjoy unlimited pots of tea (highlighted pots include chocolate chai and champagne raspberry, though there are almost a hundred varieties to choose from), as well as scones and clotted cream, sausage rolls, shepherd's pie, smoked salmon, cucumber sandwiches, petit fours, chocolates, and raspberry linzer cookies. Reservations are required; call the shop or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to make yours. Details and the expansive list of tea are up on Capital Tea's website.
3855 Mariposa Street
Everyone's had their heart ripped from their chest at least once — and at Diebolt Brewing, you can document the damage this Valentine's Day at its DaVinci's Heart event. A sheep's heart (sadly, not your ex's) will be on hand for a dissection demo, and your instructor will guide you in drawing a scientific illustration of the organ. By the end of the evening, all the heart parts will be neatly labeled — the (he thought he was so) superior vena cava, the left (side of the bed where she used to sleep) ventricle — and if nothing else, you'll be shedding your tears into some tasty beers. Eating your heart out is free, but brews are not; find out more at the taproom's Facebook page.
1439 South Pearl Street
Even in this era of a fiercely divided America, there's still one thing that we all agree on, one great passion that unites us regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation or political persuasion: pizza. We all love pizza, which makes it the obvious choice for a Valentine's Day dinner. Indulge in our shared obsession at Kaos on February 14, where owner Patrick Mangold-White is combining pizza pie with his other great love: raptors. From 6 to 9 p.m., nonprofit wildlife center Nature's Educators will be on hand with twelve birds of prey, including owls, hawks, vultures, falcons and eagles. Meet and greet some animals who could literally rip your heart to pieces, and you won't feel so bad about your awful ex. Details are up on Kaos's Facebook page, and while reservations aren't required, you can make them by calling the pizzeria.
Stargazer Fine Chocolates & Coffee
700 Colorado Boulevard
Those who'd rather skip dinner entirely in favor of dessert will want to make a reservation at this east Denver chocolate shop. Owner and chocolatier Karen D'Onofrio visited a chocolate buffet as a child and is now re-creating the event; from 7 to 9 p.m., $40 gets you two glasses of wine and an all-you-can-eat spread of truffles, pastries and chocolate-dipped goodies. If you (or your honey) are the type to buy a crinkly, cellophane-wrapped heart filled with chalky sweets at the last minute, up your game this year with confections from a local candy maker who isn't hawking their wares on a street corner. Tickets are on sale on Stargazer's website.
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Sweet Cooie's Ice Cream and Confectionary
3506 East 12th Avenue
So you're trying to win your crush over this Valentine's Day — or else you just want an epic sugar rush and are unwilling to leave the house for it. Either way, the Congress Park ice cream shop has you covered with its Valegrams: Place an order from February 1 through 12, and on February 13 or 14, a pint of ice cream (choose from Death by Chocolate, Salted Oreo, Raspberry Love or Vegan Chocolate), a box of truffles, a balloon, a $5 gift card and a handwritten love letter will show up on the doorstep of your choosing (don't get too racy with that love note; some poor soul will need to transcribe it). Visit sweetcooies.com to ensure your intended is in the delivery area, and place your order for $35. And the fact that you won't even have to wrap the present? Sweet!
Wally's Wisconsin Tavern
1417 Market Street
If you're not partnered up for V-Day, there's no reason to stay home when Wally's Anti-Valentine's Day celebration means half-price cheese curds as soon as doors open at 4 p.m. Because nothing soothes the sting of singledom — or says "Thank God I don't have to put up with anyone's bullshit" — like a basket of fried cheese; even couples will want to get in on this deal. And if the lovebirds around you start getting all moony over their curds, enough $5 Mind Erasers will ensure that you'll be able to block out the nauseating display of affection with ease.