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Breckenridge Distillery’s Liquid Chef Shares How to Elevate Your Holiday Drinking

This article was produced in partnership with Breckenridge Distillery 

Some of the best gifts are experiences: a dream vacation, a Michelin-star meal, an unforgettable concert. Drinking whiskey at the distillery where it’s made can be an amazing experience too—but what if you can’t get there?

When it comes to Breckenridge Distillery, that’s not a problem. Billie Keithley, the “liquid chef” at the internationally awarded distillery, says anyone can experience the most important part of its hospitality at home by taking the time to enjoy Breckenridge spirits—especially after a day of outdoor fun.

“These are beautiful sippers—nice spirits for sitting by the fireplace,” Keithley says, noting that while Breckenridge’s whiskeys and gin stand alone as neat pours, they’re also ideal for cocktails. Keithley uses ingredients as diverse as brown butter and pine sprigs to create her drinks, which range from light and fruity to spirit-forward and dark.

“When I start mixing and balancing a cocktail, I’m trying to elevate that profile, and accentuate the spirit,” she adds.

Elevation is key to both Keithley’s recipes and the spirits themselves. Located at 9,600 feet above sea level, Breckenridge Distillery is the world’s highest. The elevation impacts the maturation of its whiskeys and other brown spirits, and the pure Rocky Mountain water it uses is its secret weapon.

Lineup of Breckenridge bottles
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“We’re getting snowmelt that’s filtered, with perfect minerality for our spirits,” Keithley explains. The mineral-rich water not only allows the purest flavors of the spirits to shine, but adds essential texture, too. That velvety “chew” you get on a sip of Breckenridge Bourbon? That’s the water working its magic.

Whether you’re a fan of bourbon, gin, or a softly spiced whiskey, there’s a Breckenridge spirit—and perfect holiday cocktail recipe—to suit your tastes and elevate your holiday entertaining. Keithley’s top advice: Use quality ingredients, ice, and glassware—and have fun!

Breckenridge Distillery’s Best Holiday Cocktail Recipes

Bourbon cocktail with fall garnish and decoration
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1. Crisp Mountain Air

Serves 1

Spirit Spotlight: Breckenridge Bourbon

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Brown Butter Washed Breckenridge Bourbon (see below)
  • 2 oz tart cherry juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz brown sugar–allspice simple syrup (see below)
  • 3 drops blackstrap bitters
  • Garnish: brandied cherry

Instructions

  1. Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain and serve over ice, and garnish with a brandied cherry.
  2. To make Brown Butter Washed Breckenridge Bourbon: Over low-medium heat, add one stick of butter to a skillet. Let melt and brown slightly. Pour into a pitcher with one bottle of Breckenridge Bourbon. Place in freezer overnight. Skim off butter and strain through a cheesecloth before using.
  3. To make brown sugar–allspice simple syrup: Over medium heat, add 1 cup water, 6 oz brown sugar, and 1 oz muddled allspice berries. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, bottle, and refrigerate.
Get it

Old Fashioned cocktail with orange peel
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2. Obi-Wan Old Fashioned

Serves 1

Spirit Spotlight: Breckenridge Port Cask Finish

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ oz Breckenridge Port Cask Finish
  • ½ oz raw simple syrup (see below)
  • 2-3 dashes barrel-aged bitters or Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: Luxardo cherry, orange peel

Instructions:

  1. Stir all ingredients with ice, and strain into a glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with cherry and orange peel.
  2. To make raw simple syrup: Over medium heat, combine 1 cup sugar in the raw and 1 cup water. Stir until dissolved, then let cool, bottle, and refrigerate.
Get it

Mulled wine with orange and star anise
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3. Whiskey Mulled Wine

Serves 6-7

Spirit Spotlight: Breckenridge Spiced Whiskey

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz Breckenridge Spiced Whiskey
  • 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 oz honey
  • 1 oz turbinado sugar
  • 1 tbsp cardamom seeds, muddled
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • Peels from two oranges
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Over low-med heat, combine all ingredients and stir to incorporate. Keep on this heat for 20 minutes, then turn to low and cover for 30 minutes. Taste, and strain when you have the balance you like.
  2. Return to low heat and serve in individual heat-proof cups, garnished with an orange slice, cinnamon stick, and star anise.
Get it

Punch bowl with orange slices
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4. Horseshoe “Punch” Bowl

Serves 8-12

Spirit Spotlight: Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish
  • 8 oz allspice-cardamom-clove syrup (see below)
  • 8 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 12 oz ginger beer

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl and stir to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve over large punch size cube. Garnish bowl with orange and lemon slices, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, mint, and shaved nutmeg.
  2. To make allspice-cardamom-clove syrup: Over medium heat, add 1 cup water, 1 cup turbinado sugar, 1 Tbsp. muddled allspice berries, 1 tsp muddled cardamom pods, and 3 cloves. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, strain, bottle, and refrigerate.
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Yellowish cocktail with pine garnish
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5. First Chair

Serves 1

Spirit Spotlight: Breckenridge Gin

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Breckenridge Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • ¾ oz pine simple syrup (see below)
  • ½ oz egg white
  • Sparkling soda
  • Garnish: pine sprig and lemon zest

Instructions:

  1. Dry shake the first 4 ingredients (no ice). Add ice and shake again, then strain into glass. Top with sparkling soda and garnish with pine sprig and lemon zest.
  2. To make pine simple syrup: Over medium heat, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup rinsed edible pine needles. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, strain, bottle, and refrigerate.
Get it

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