The vibrant spirit of New Orleans was alive in RiNo this weekend as Bacchanal x Denver took over the parking lot of The Source Market Hall + Hotel. For two days — guests were transported to the eclectic, wine-driven wonderland of Bacchanal with an immersive pop-up bar experience. For those who may be unfamiliar with Bacchanal’s reputation among the free-spirited legion of visitors and inhabitants of New Orleans — it has been vastly celebrated for promoting an inimitable ambiance with an impressive array of wine, food and entertainment. Bacchanal was also named a 2019 James Beard Award Finalist for Outstanding Wine Program. Unsurprisingly, the highly anticipated Denver pop-up did not disappoint.
Jazz bands — Mile High Manouche and The Hunter Roberts Quartet from Denver, along with The Co and Co Travelin’ Show and Harmonouche from New Orleans — filled the air with feel-good vibrations. Additionally, a selection of delectable plates by James Beard Award-winning chef, Alon Shaya and Bacchanal’s chef/partner, Joaquin Rodas, were consumed with vehement delight as guests shared unique bottles of wine in Bacchanal’s casual ice bucket-format. Naturally, Denver’s famously temperamental weather was the one turbulent, yet manageable factor surrounding the spectacle. Nevertheless, attendees were willing to eat and imbibe in an unpredictable combination of scorching heat and subtle sprinkles of rain.
The menu offerings ranged from shareable small plates to large-format options with exceptional flavor. Satisfying toasts topped with burrata and tomatoes or creamed mushrooms and manchego were shared among enthusiastic crowds creating a base-layer for rosé-filled bellies. If that isn’t a mouthful in itself — consider the carefully sourced meat and cheese plates which served as ornamental centerpieces on patio tables followed by the sweet, savory bacon-wrapped dates swimming in a saucy concoction of tomato and piquillo pepper sauce. Particularly hungry crowds dove into fantastical plates of wagyu steak with local peaches, yucca and labneh, drizzled in chimmichuri or black bass with fennel, romensco and mint.
Denver is the third city to host a Bacchanal pop-up concept, following Chicago and Los Angeles. For this locational luck, we must be largely grateful to Alon and Emily Shaya — the proprietors of Safta — which opened in the Source Market Hall + Hotel nearly one year ago. The Shayas — who now divide their time between New Orleans and Denver — brilliantly recognized the opportunity to bring Bacchanal’s backyard-wine-party-culture to Denver’s experiential foodie scene. After witnessing the events from this past weekend — it seems safe to say that the special concept was wholly embraced by an enthusiastic crowd. With tickets going for a mere $15 and an affordable spectrum of consumable selections — this accessible outing simply made sense in the Mile High City.