If you've found yourself on a local barstool savoring a flamingo-hued gin and tonic, your tastebuds have undoubtedly already stumbled upon the talents of Nate Michlitsch and Ryan Souto, founders of the valley's own Lost Identity Beverage Company, which specializes in the preparation of shrubs—essentially a type of drinking vinegar dating back centuries that stemmed from medieval and colonial food preservation—using seasonal and local ingredients from around the state. Lost Identity's pink tonic, in particular, (a hibiscus-stewed take on traditional tonic) has attracted a fervent following of craft cocktail enthusiasts who gladly chase the duo's products from bar to bar around the valley. At the onset of the holiday high season, we bellied up to the bar at The Rose in Edwards, where the two sell (and make) bottles of their staple tonic and ginger-lime mule mix, to sample their seasonal creations, and coax them to reveal three recipes to wow friends and family and coworkers at your holiday party. 

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If you've got little ones attending your holiday party, skip the whiskey and add a bit more shrub for a kid-friendly mocktail.

Apples, Walnuts, & Whiskey

Souto and Michlitsch boil down gala apples, unfiltered apple juice, walnuts, brown sugar, water, and apple cider vinegar before adding in a splash of their favorite bourbon (or, in Michlitsch's case, spiced whiskey from Eagle's 39 North distillers) and garnishing with crushed walnuts. The result? A winter warmer that might have you swapping that holiday pie for their boozy alternative. 

  • 1.5 oz 39 North Colorado spiced whiskey
  • 1.5 oz Apple walnut shrub
  • 3 to 4 oz soda water
  • Crushed walnuts

Measure out the shrub and spiced whiskey, and add to your favorite glassware before stirring both ingredients. Add in ice, and top with soda water (Souto and Michlitsch advice 3-4 ounces, although add less or more soda water if you're looking for a stronger or more diluted flavor). Finish by garnishing the rim with crushed walnuts. If you're serving for a crowd that's under 21, leave out the booze, and in more shrub (2 to 2.5 ounces of shrub, still topped with soda water).

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Lost Identity's pear and vanilla mix.

Pear, Vanilla, & Gin

Sure, we're partial to Lost Identity's floral-infused G&T, but we'll gladly swap out the duo's staple mix for something just as light and refreshing, but with a hint of sweetness to capture the essence of the season. If you're a gin connoisseur, you've undoubtedly got your favorite, but Souto and Michlitsch suggest Colorado's own Cap Rock Gin for a more locally-procured buzz.

  • 1.5 oz Caprock gin
  • 1.5 oz Pear vanilla shrub
  • 3 to 4 oz soda water
  • Fresh pear

Measure out the shrub and gin, and add to your favorite glassware before stirring both ingredients. Add ice, and top with soda water. Slice fresh pear for an edible garnish (brownie points for dusting each slice with a bit of ground cinnamon). If you're serving for a crowd that's under 21, leave out the booze, and in more shrub (2 to 2.5 ounces of shrub, still topped with soda water).

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Seasonal spices combine with orange and tequila.

Spiced Orange & Tequila

The best part about Souto and Michlitsch's sipping suggestions for their spiced orange mix (aside from the tequila) is that you can serve it on the rocks, or warm for more of a hot toddy style drink. The two recommend Suerte Reposado if the booze is a must.

  • 1.5 oz Spiced orange shrub
  • 1.5 oz Suerte Reposado tequila
  • 3 to 4 oz soda water
  • Allspice and cinnamon sticks
  • Fresh orange slices

Combine the shrub and tequila in your favorite glassware and stir before adding in ice, and topping with soda water. Garnish with allspice and cinnamon sticks, and an orange slice to for the rim. If you're looking for a hot toddy-style mix to sip by the fire, combine the shrub with 3 to 4 ounces of hot water and tequila, and garnish similarly. Sub out the alcohol for the kids, and add in more shrub for a G-rated winter warmer.

Rather leave the mixing to the professionals, or sample before you DIY? Belly up to the bar at these local craft cocktail destinations:

The Rose, Edwards; theroseedwards.com

Craftsman, Edwards; craftsmanvail.com

Hovey & Harrison, Edwards; hoveyandharrison.com

Harvest, Edwards; harvestvail.com

4 Eagle Ranch, Wolcott; 4eagleranch.com

Chronic Tacos, Avon; chronictacos.com

WYLD, The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch; ritzcarlton.com

Root & Flower, Vail Village; rootandflowervail.com

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