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6 Holiday Drinks to Lift Your Spirits

photo courtesy of designsponge.com

Wassail – Photo by Design Sponge

Holiday season is upon us. That means friendly gatherings, parties, and spending quality time with the ones you love! What better way to unwind than mixing up a festive cocktail and catching up with friends and family by the fire while the snow falls (and it is falling!). Hot or cold, bourbon or vodka, cider or eggnog we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite holiday libations.

Holiday Peppermint Mocha (makes about 8 cups)

Level: Intermediate

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 8 packets instant hot cocoa mix
  • 1-1/2 cups brewed espresso or double-strength dark roast coffee
  • 3/4 cup peppermint schnapps liqueur or 1 teaspoon peppermint extract plus 3/4 cup additional brewed espresso
  • Whipped cream and candy cane for garnish, optional

Preparation: In a large saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until bubbles form around sides of pan. Add cocoa mix; whisk until blended. Add espresso and heat through. Remove from heat; stir in liqueur. If desired, serve with whipped cream.

Winter Forest Mule (1 serving, double as needed)

Level: Easy

Ingredients

  • 5 oz Gin or Breckenridge Vodka
  • Splash of cranberry juice
  • Dash of simple syrup
  • 1 Ginger Beer (we prefer Cock n’ Bull)
  • Garnishes: 1 rosemary sprig, orange slice, and sugared cranberries

Preparation: Mix gin or vodka, cranberry juice, simple syrup and ginger beer in a copper mug over ice. Garnish with your rosemary sprig, orange slice and a few sugared cranberries on a toothpick. Voila! Holiday forest in a copper mug. Employee submission by Jenna Fickenscher.

Maple Breckenridge Bourbon Eggnog (makes about 8 cups)

Level: Hard

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup maple syrups
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups Breckenridge Bourbon
  • 16 strips crisply cooked bacon

Preparation: Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on low speed until frothy (about 30 seconds). Increase speed to medium-high and carefully beat until egg whites are about the consistency of shaving cream (about 90 seconds). Reduce speed to medium. With mixer running, add half of maple syrup and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Transfer whites to a large bowl. Do not wash bowl. Add egg yolks and remaining syrup to now-empty stand mixer bowl and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow and ribbony, shutting off machine and scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as necessary, about 2 minutes total. Add milk, cream, and Breckenridge Bourbon and mix on low speed to combine. Using a rubber spatula or handheld whisk, fold the whipped whites into the egg yolk/milk mixture until completely incorporated. Serve by ladling into goblets and garnishing with a bacon strip.

Special Equipment: stand mixer, hand blender with whisk attachment, or handheld electric mixer

Wassail (makes about 6 cups)

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 1 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (or 2 teaspoons cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • Bourbon or whiskey (optional, but highly recommended)

Preparation: In a large dutch oven or crock pot, bring all of the ingredients to a low boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a couple of hours. Serve hot; spike with bourbon/whiskey if desires. Garnish with whole cinnamon sticks.

Hot Buttered Rum (makes about 4 servings)

Level: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • ¾ cup spiced rum
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 4 sticks cinnamon (for garnish)

Preparation: Using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a 4-cup or larger measuring cup. Add the rum and then 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until the butter mixture dissolves. Divide the buttered rum among 4 mugs. Garnish with the cinnamon sticks and serve.

Cosmo Blanco (1 serving, double as needed)

Level: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 shot vodka
  • 1 shot triple sec
  • 1 ½ shot white cranberry juice
  • ½ shot freshly squeeze lime juice

Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with fresh cranberries or orange zest twist. Employee submission by Kimberly Tramontana.

So there you have it. Are any of these cocktails on your favorite holiday list? If not, we’d love to hear from you! What’s your favorite festive drink over the holidays? Share a photo of your specialty cocktail with us on Instagram using #BestOfBreck!

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Best of Breckenridge! Wishing you a safe and Happy New Year!

Brewing Outside the Box: The Best Breweries in Summit County

Dog at Broken Compass

My friend’s gremlin/dog, Stash

Colorado is home to almost 300 craft breweries, and up in Summit we are lucky enough to have some of the best. After visiting all of the breweries in Summit County and taste-testing all of the beer, I have compiled a list of my favorites. I just have to say, I really enjoyed doing all of this research.

Broken Compass | Breckenridge, CO

This place is awesome; delicious beer, a chill ski-town vibe, good people, and you can even bring your pup! The Broken Compass has only been open for 16 months, but they are crushing it! They usually have around 12 different beers on tap, rotating a few seasonal beers around. I ordered a “flight” of seven different beers, which means I got seven small beer glasses so that I could sample the different beers they offer. In the picture featured above from left to right we have: Hefeweizen, Pumpkin Pie Stout, Coconut Porter, IPA, Double IPA, Ginger Pale Ale, and Chili Pepper Pale Ale.

Here are my thoughts on my two favorites…

Coconut Porter: This one was seriously amazing, which was unexpected because I usually don’t like coconut or porters. I felt transported to a tropical island; it was bliss. This beer tasted like liquid creamy Almond Joy deliciousness in my mouth. I could have drank a whole gallon.

Ginger Pale Ale: Perfect harmonious notes of spicy ginger (not overwhelming, but it’s there on the back of your throat) and also a tart edge. Yum.

The only downside to this place is that there is no food. But in my opinion, that’s not a deal-breaker because their beer makes up for it. If you live in Breckenridge, visiting here, or just passing through, “get lost” and stop by Broken Compass for a few brews and good times.

The Bakers’ Brewery | Silverthorne, CO

Bakers’ is also really new to town. They opened in March of 2015, so it’s been about eight months of business and they are dialed in! The beer is spectacular and the food is amazing (they are even open for breakfast). Seriously this is the place to be. They are also a bakery, (hence the name Bakers’) and create all of the baked goods that you will see on their menu. They usually have around eight beers on tap with a few rotating and seasonal beers. Right now they have Barkin’ Dog Brown Ale, Cotton-Mouth Killer Session IPA, Buzz-Bird Belgian Honey-Wheat, French Silk Stout, Fall Saison, Intense Bike Rider Imperial Belgian Red, Rye’d Open, and Cory’s Crazy Infusion Confusion. Brewmaster, and (probably) genius, Cory, is constantly pushing the limits with creativity and “brewing” outside the box. The Infusion Confusion is his own unique small batch (5 gallons) of madness. In the past, he’s done beer with Tequila soaked black cherry wood chips, pickled jalapeños, rose buds, tart cherries, crushed blueberries, and more. Once the batch is gone, it’s onto the next creation! I ordered a flight of the Cotton-Mouth Killer Session IPA, Rye’d Open, Fall Saison, and the Infusion Confusion which was an Apple Pie Rum Barrel Brown.

Here are my thoughts on my two favorites…

Cotton-Mouth Killer Session IPA: This IPA was light on the hops, and gentle on the palate. A smooth, easy drinker that balanced the bold citrus and herbal flavors perfectly.

Apple Pie Rum Barrel Brown: This was the current Infusion Confusion on tap, and I think it might have been the best beer I’ve ever had. Cory took apple wood chips and soaked them in Captain Morgan, giving this beer multiple dimensions and deep, rich flavors. It was impressive.

This place is super chill, friendly and attentive staff, and the beer and food is on point! Definitely make a stop here if you are up in the Summit County area.

Bakers' Brewery

Bakers’ Brewery

Breckenridge Brewery & Pub | Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge Brewery is Summit County’s oldest brewpub, opening its doors back in 1990.  It is the perfect destination if you want hand-crafted beer, good food, and an unbeatable ambiance. It’s a great location right in town with a lot of room inside! This isn’t your typical bar food either, they step the elegance factor up a bit in this category. Breck Brewery usually has eight beers on tap at a time. When I went there, they had Kensho Kölsh, Agave Wheat, Pineapple Gose, Belgian Pale Ale, Avalanche Amber Ale, Lucky U-IPA, Vanilla Porter, and Uncle John’s Chili Autumn. I got a flight of all eight… and I approve of all eight. I can’t get enough of that Agave Wheat.

Breckenridge Brewery

Breckenridge Brewery

Dillon Dam Brewery | Dillon, CO

The Dillon Dam Brewery has about 10 beers on tap at a time with some rotating seasonal brews. I have to say, they have some Dam good beer! (Sorry, I had to.) They brew about 1,700 barrels per year making them one of the largest independent brewpubs in the nation! Their food is also on point with a pretty extensive menu. Throughout the week, they have killer good deals on beer and apps making it the place to go if you don’t want to spend a fortune on good craft beer. Dillon Dam also has live music going on every Thursday night which I’m a huge fan of. Thursday night is also ladies night… free half pints and $3 pints, Fireball, and Jagermeister for everyone. Free music AND free brews? Count me in.

Backcountry Brewery | Frisco, CO

Backcountry Brewery has been doing its thing since 1996 and is a well-established brewery and restaurant here in Summit County. There is a section of the restaurant with super comfortable couches and a cozy fireplace. Perfect place to kick your boots off, relax, get some food, and drink award-winning craft beer after a full day of skiing. This brewery has won countless awards over the years in all sorts of beer competitions. To name a few, the Great American Beer Festival, Colorado State Fair, and the North American Brewers Association. They also pair every item on the menu with the type of beer that would go best with that specific dish, which gets a big thumbs up from me.

Pug Ryan’s | Dillon, CO

Pug Ryan’s has also been around for a while, starting up in 1997 and still going strong to this day. They also have many award winning beers including their Peacemaker Pilsner, the Scottish Ale, and their seasonal Helles Bock. They also have another location, which is a part of their restaurant (but with a different menu) called the Tiki Bar which is located at the Lake Dillon Marina! It is an awesome spot with unparalleled views, especially if you get there around dinner time to watch the sun set behind the mountains.

 

I bet you really want a cold one now… I know I do!

Is it happy hour yet?

 

Cheers!

 

Brewmaster Cory and myself at Bakers’ Brewery