The food scene in Boulder is irresistible to most. Although, some prefer to simply sit down with friends to enjoy a quick cocktail rather than committing to a full dinner experience. The producers of First Bite, an event catered to foodies, are leaning into this idea of drink culture. This year marks the first to deeply celebrate the beverage scene in Boulder with a brand new, four-day event titled First Sip. With over 30 participating restaurants and bars, this coming weekend will be a drink enthusiast’s heaven. First Sip beckons all to try a new libation while celebrating the talent of Boulder bartenders.
Jessica Benjamin took over First Bite in 2019 and decided to look deeper into the dining culture of Boulder. While sitting at a bar with a friend and conversing about all the amazing food and booze they consumed during First Bite, the idea struck to create a beverage-focused event. Benjamin wanted to give these artists the recognition they deserve. First Sip is now a reality in 2022 and creates a plethora of opportunities for both participants and bartenders. “It’s a great way to explore new places. Maybe try somewhere they’ve been meaning to try without the full commitment of a dinner. It’s a great way to get a vibe of a spot,” Benjamin said.
Along with the various drink specials that restaurants are offering, there are also ticketed events available. Cocktail Dynamics and the Art of the Sensory Experience at Japango and European Bier Tasting by the Bohemian Biergarten are both already sold out. Although, there are two other ticketed events that are worth interest. First Sip highlights whiskey lovers through an event titled The Flavor Wheel of Whiskey by Boulder Spirits and Café Aion. Most don’t consider whiskey as a pairing drink, but this event highlights the various bites that make whiskey shine. Come see and taste what it’s all about on April 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and purchase tickets online for $55.
For the ones that prefer virtual events, First Sip has you covered. Grab a ticket to the Zoom event, Rediscovering the Wines of Tuscany, by Opening a Bottle for $40. Led by Italian wine expert Kevin Day, this guided tasting tour is cemented through his vivid storytelling talents and gives a perspective that not many have the opportunity to experience. The Zoom will open on April 30 from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
First Sip is a new concept with no rules. Mixologists can mix and pour up whatever they please – as long as it’s in liquid form. “It does not have to be alcoholic either — we encouraged them to go NA. It’s been really cool to see people really come out and be themselves in what they are offering,” Benjamin said.
Keeping up with the pattern of honoring bartenders, patrons have the ability to ‘Nominate a Badass Bartender’ from one of the participating businesses. Any individual that blows your mind with their creativity and taste pairings can be nominated — the list will be hard to sort through. The nomination deadline is on May 2 and winners will finally be announced on May 4, given a prize of $250 and specials from Oliko Ginger Beer, Boulder Spirits and Polar Beverages.
If you need yet another reason to participate in First Sip, part of the proceeds from the ticketed events will be donated to Food is Love. This program began in January after the devastating aftermath of the Marshall Fire. After quickly raising $13,000 to purchase gift cards from restaurants to give to the impacted families, the team at First Bite realized that this was something they needed to practice constantly. “There’s nothing like someone feeding you when you are in that moment unexpectedly – just being able to have that as a resource and not worrying about finding food for dinner or feeling guilty,” Benjamin said.
From April 28 to May 1, Boulder will be filled to the brim with delicious liquids and blends. With more than enough happy hour deals and discounts to sort from, participants will likely stumble upon their new favorite bar, bartender or infusion this weekend.
Here is a full list of businesses participating in First Sip:
Acreage by Stem Ciders
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Franks Chophouse & Tavern
Fringe, A Well-Tapped Eatery
Ghost Box Pizza
The Greenbriar Inn
Ku Cha House of Tea
License No. 1
OAK at Fourteenth
Precision Pours – Coffee and Bakes
R Gallery + Wine Bar
Zucca Italian Ristorante
First Sip takes place from April 28 through May 1.