Tonight's shochu dinner at Elway's Cherry Creek could be the blowout food orgy of the year

By the time 5 p.m. rolls around on a work day in Japan, patrons have made their way into the nearest izakaya to knock back shochu (pronounced 'show-chew'), a clear distilled spirit, similar to vodka (sans the hangover), that can be made from rice, sugarcane, sweet potatoes, barley or buckwheat. It's incredibly popular in Japan (and in Korea, where it's called 'soju'), but that's a really long ass way to go to get drunk.

And, as it turns out, those of you who've already bought tickets to tonight's surf-meets-turf-meets-shochu tasting dinner at Elway's Cherry Creek (2500 East First Avenue), home turf to exec Tyler Wiard, who's teaming up with Philip Tanaka, the exec chef at Aspen's Matsuhisa, can get a taste (or twelve) of the colorless spirit right here at home. If you didn't buy a ticket, I have bad news: It's sold out. And worse news: The menu looks amazing, but you're going to have to just read it and drool and hope that there's a repeat sometime soon.

Wiard's menu:

Gently smoked Muscovy duck breast with duck egg salad, fresh hearts of palm, smelt roe and upland cress, paired with Nobu shochu

Grilled rabbit saddle with black truffle-scallion rice cakes, candied galangal root and micro arugula, paired with Kitchom shochu

Thai chile-braised Colorado goat leg, steamed Napa cabbage, charred onion and yuzu butter, paired with Awa No Kaori shochu

Hoisin pork jowl gyoza with daikon slaw and creamy wasabi vinaigrette, paired with "True Beauty" shochu

Flash-seared Colorado lamb loin with grilled maitake mushrooms, wilted tatsoi greens and crispy lotus root, paired with Beniotome shochu

Black rice gelato, jasmine tea syrup and sesame brittle, paired with Kaikouzu shochu

Tanaka's menu:

Potato gauffrette, Bigeye tuna tartar, spicy miso and foie gras snow, paired with Kaikouzu shochu

Japanese red snapper, Belgium endive, fried garlic chips and dried miso powder, paired with Beniotome shochu

Maine lobster, crispy wonton shell, fire-roasted tomato salsa with truffle guacamole, paired with Ginza No Suzume shochu

"Live" hirame, rocotto chile, yuzu lemon and sea salt, paired with Sudachi shochu

Thinly sliced yellowtail, jalapeno, cilantro and yuzo, paired with Nadeshiko shochu

Marinated black cod, sweet miso, limestone butter lettuce, fried and shredded filo, paired with Nobu Rice shochu

And now for a bit of good news: You can sample shochu locally at Sushi Den (1487 South Pearl Street), Izakaya Den (1518 South Pearl Street), , Japon (1028 South Gaylord Street) and Hapa, 1780 East Second Avenue.

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