This is a great time of year to step it up in the cocktail department, so you can dazzle any guests who come through this holiday season. We teamed up with Elliott Clark from Apartment Bartender to share three drink recipes that are sure to bring oohs and ahhs – one even has a blowtorch involved! But he keeps it deceptively simple with an easy blueberry syrup that goes in all three, so you can serve up fun and fresh drinks multiple times a week. Let the holiday hosting begin!

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Start Here: Spiced Blueberry Syrup

Make a batch of spiced blueberry syrup, then turn that tasty concoction into three crowd-pleasing drink recipes.
You’ll need:
– Winter spices, such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice
– Orange peels (save the juice for the cocktails below)
– Blueberries
– White granulated sugar

Break up the cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice and lightly toast to release the flavors. In a medium saucepan, combine water, spices, orange peels, and blueberries into a medium sauce pan on the stove. Bring to a light simmer and allow the flavors to mesh and the blueberries to split. Continue to let it simmer on low, then when the blueberries have split, stir in equal parts white granulated sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat. Allow the syrup to cool (ideally overnight so the flavors can meld even more). Strain out the solids and store the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Drink 1: Tropical Holiday

You’ll need:

– 2 dashes aromatic bitters
– 1 oz orange juice
– ½ oz lime juice
– ½ oz spiced blueberry simple syrup
– ½ oz spiced pear liqueur (such as St. George Spirits)
– 2 oz scotch whisky (we used Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky)
– Crushed ice
– Pineapple leaf, lime, sugar cube (garnish)
– Overproof spirit (we used overproof rum, but Everclear works too)
– Cinnamon

1. Pour all liquids into a tall glass. Fill the glass halfway up with crushed ice, then use a bar spoon to stir the ingredients together. Add more ice to the top of the glass and stick the pineapple leaf into the glass for garnish.

2. Take half a lime and juice it. (Save juice for another use.) Add a sugar cube to the hollowed-out lime half and place it on top of the crushed ice. Add a bit of an overproof spirit on top of the sugar, then use a blow-torch to set it on fire. Sprinkle cinnamon on top (carefully) for cool flames and lots of oohs and ahhs.

Drink 2: Spiced Blueberry Old-Fashioned

You’ll need:
– 2 oz bourbon whiskey
– 2 dashes of aromatic bitters or 2 dashes of orange bitters
– ¼ oz spiced blueberry syrup
– Ice
– Extra-large ice cube
– Orange (garnish)

1. Add liquids to a cocktail shaker with ice and stir to combine.

2. To serve, place a large ice cube in a drinking glass. Strain the chilled shaker contents into the glass. Remove a 2-inch strip of peel from the orange, being careful not to get the bitter white part. Crush the orange peel in a spiral over the drink, releasing the aromatic essences, then place the peel in the drink for garnish.

Drink 3: Ginger Mint Mocktail Punch

– Ice
– ½ oz spiced blueberry syrup
– ¾ oz orange juice
– ½ oz lemon juice
– 2 oz ginger mint tea
– Extra-large ice cube
– 2 oz ginger beer (or ginger ale)
– lime wheel, orange wheel, speared blueberries (garnish)

1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, blueberry syrup, orange juice, lemon juice and ginger mint tea.

2. To serve, place large ice cube in a drinking glass. Strain the chilled shaker contents into the glass. Top with ginger beer, citrus wheels and speared blueberries for garnish.

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