Perfecting the craft cocktail at home with Breckenridge Distillery | SummitDaily.com

Perfecting the craft cocktail at home with Breckenridge Distillery

In the '90s and early 2000s, many drinkers began to turn their noses at major beer brands — desiring something more flavorful — and the craft-beer industry blew up. As palates turned to hoppy beers and small-batch brews, there was no turning back.

The demand for craft beer remains trendy today, and, with it, another booze-based industry has begun to nudge its way into the mix. Craft distilling is taking off much like its beer brother, as more and more people are turning to the movement as a different way to get into the game.

"Now in this day and age, craft beer is really hard to succeed in because there is so much more competition that a lot of people have moved on to craft distilling," said Grace Gabree, marketing coordinator for Breckenridge Distillery, which opened in 2009. "The new thing is it's still a craft spirit — it's still in the booze industry, which people love — but distilling is a little different, and it's creating this entire new market. So craft distilling is blowing up in the same way craft brewing did 20 years ago."

When Breckenridge Distillery first opened, there were only about seven other distilleries in Colorado. The brand has grown significantly in the last six years, and Gabree said she doesn't see any sign of it slowing down.

"I always joke — people are always asking, 'How's business? How's the distillery doing?' If the economy's good, people are going to drink. If the economy is bad, people are going to drink. People are never going to stop drinking. It's the two industries you want to get into — technology and booze," she said.

CRAFT COCKTAILS

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With the popularity of craft distilling on the rise, so is the desire to get creative with the different liquors. Bars and restaurants are more frequently featuring a craft cocktail menu, with mixologists on staff to whip up new creations.

"I think that it's going to continue to grow, and people are going to get more and more creative with it," Gabree said. "We started out with the standard traditional — mixing bourbon and bitters — and now … people are putting egg whites in cocktails and making powdered vodka and all sorts of crazy things, and I think that, as we explore, we will find all sorts of crazy new things to do, and it's just going to make so much more of an industry. And people love it — people love going to a bar and ordering a crazy cocktail that lights on fire and has all the bells and whistles. I don't think it's something that's going to remain for a month and then fizzle out. I think this sort of thing is going to become what craft beer has, where everyone has an opinion and everyone has a favorite craft brewery."

CREATE YOUR OWN CRAFT COCKTAIL

To become your own mixologist at home, Gabree recommends starting off with spirits and ingredients you really enjoy first and foremost.

"Start off with a spirit you like, something you've had before — maybe something that you tried one time and thought was great, and you bought a bottle and don't know what to do with it," she said.

She said fancy tools and ingredients aren't always necessary to creating an enjoyable cocktail. She recommends gathering desirable ingredients and then going by trial and error. Breckenridge Distillery's mixologist, Billie Keithley, uses mainly Colorado ingredients in her cocktails and also creates her own line of simple syrups. Gabree said her inspiration for each cocktail comes from her passion for the industry, and the general creativity that comes with the desire to spend time in the kitchen playing with what goes with what.

In tribute to the craft distilling movement and to highlight local restaurants, bars and businesses, Breckenridge hosted the sixth annual Craft Spirits Festival on Oct. 23-25. If you're looking for a little inspiration, try these recipes at home, featured at the Still on the Hill Grand Tasting event.

Craft cocktails

A handful of the 35 distilleries that participated in the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival’s Still on the Hill Grand Tasting shared their craft cocktail concoctions. Visit each distillery’s website for more information about products and distribution.

808 Distillery

Spiced Pear

1¼ ounces Red Canyon Spiced Rum

1 ounce pear nectar or juice

½ ounce fresh lime juice

Two fresh mint leaves

½ ounce simple syrup of agave

Shake with ice, pour into a glass, and top off with club soda, with a dash of nutmeg on top.

LL Spritzer

Leo’s Limoncello (Gold medal winner)

Club soda or seltzer water

Sprig of mint

Mix to personal taste. Visit http://www.808distill.com.

10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co.

Barrel-aged Manhattan

2 ounces 10th Mountain Bourbon (Silver medal winner)

1 ounce Aperol liqueur

1 ounce Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth

Age in a 3-liter whiskey barrel for 30 to 45 days, until desired flavor and balance is reached. Visit 10thwhiskey.com.

Breckenridge Distillery

R2TEA2 (for the Star Wars fan)

1½ ounces Breckenridge Vodka

Juice of half of lemon

Teakoe Slopeside seasonal spiced plum tea

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, pour over ice and garnish with frozen green tea and lemon zest.

Winter’s Coming (for the Game of Thrones fan)

1½ ounces Breckenridge Bourbon

2 ounces Psycho Billie sarsaparilla syrup

2 ounces vanilla milk

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, pour over ice and garnish with pecan-maple whipped cream and salted caramel. Visit http://www.breckenridgedistillery.com, or contact Billie Keithley at billie@breckenridgedistillery.com with questions about Psycho Billie shrubs.

Spring44

Fortify Fizz

1 ounce Spring44 Gin

1 ounce Spring44 Fortify

Top with lemon soda water and fresh lemon zest.

Peaches & Honey

2 ounces Honey Vodka

Splash peach liqueur

6 ounces lemon soda water

Add ingredients to a glass, and gently stir. Pour over ice-filled glass and garnish with a mint leaf and slices of peach and lemon. Visit spring44.com.

Golden Moon Distillery

1 bottle Golden Moon AppleJack

1 bottle Golden Moon Dry Curacao

2 liters Roobios tea (chilled)

1 bottle sparkling apple cider

2 ounces angostura bitters

2 ounces citrus bitters

Oleo-saccharum (recipe below)

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl with ice. Ladle and serve.

Oleo-saccharum

4 to 6 lemons (or oranges), peeled, with as little pith left as possible

1 cup sugar

1 cup lemon juice

Muddle the peels with the sugar, and then let sit for 30 minutes. Mix with the lemon juice, and then strain off the peels. Use immediately in punch. Visit http://www.goldenmoondistillery.com.

Squeal Spiced Black Rum

Squeal Peach Colada

1 1/2 ounces Squeal Spiced Black Rum

1/2 ounce peach puree

1/2 ounce coconut milk

1 ounce pineapple juice

1 ounce orange juice

Chill, shake and serve cold. Visit squealrum.com.

——– Double Gold

• 10th Mountain Alpenglow Cordial, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co.

• Ricardo’s Coffee Liqueur, Spirit Hound Distillers

Gold

• Leo’s Limoncello, 808 Distillery

• Grumpy’s Vodka, Anvil Distillery

• Black Canyon Whiskey, Black Canyon Distillery

• 291 Bourbon, Distillery 291

• Downslope Agave, Downslope Distilling

• Dry Gin, Lee Spirits Co.

• Fireside Peach Whiskey, Mile High Spirits

• Peach Street Bourbon, Peach Street Distillers

• Pear Brandy, Peach Street Distillers

• Wheeler’s Gin, Santa Fe Spirits

• Colkegan Single Malt, Santa Fe Spirits

• Spirit Hound Single Malt, Spirit Hound Distillers

• Stranahan’s Single Malt, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

• Woody Creek Colorado Gin, Woody Creek Distillers

• Woody Creek Rye, Woody Creek Distillers

Silver

• 10th Mountain Bourbon, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co.

• Red Canyon Rum, 808 Distillery

• Ironface Gin, Anvil Distillery

• Axe & Oak Whiskey, Axe and the Oak Distillery

• CopperMuse Rum, CopperMuse Distillery

• CopperMuse Horseradish Liqueur, CopperMuse Distillery

• The Decc Citrus Liqueur, Distillery 291

• Colorado Sun’shine, HIP Brand Development

• Elevate Vodka, Mile High Spirits

• Jackelope Gin, Peach Street Distillers

• Jackelope Pear Gin, Peach Street Distillers

• Beet Spirit Gold Rum, Rado Distilling

• Wood’s Mountain Hopped Gin, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery

• Wood’s Tenderfoot Whiskey, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery

• Strobawa Vodka, Woody Creek Distillers