This past weekend my wife and I hosted 20 of our former housemates and closest Casper friends who have since moved away. During a dinner toast one of them reminded all of us how essential it is to love unrestrained and with an open mind. That kind of love has to be the surest way to make the world — and our communities and families—a better place. Unpack these holiday recipes while you unpack how to love better this holiday season.

Winter Ginger Smash

We have finally come full circle with the ginger smash. This winter version from “Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined,” will enliven your taste buds and festoon your glass with some seasonal color. Here, apple, lemon and cranberries do a lively, fruity dance with convincing acidity and subtle bitter complexity. The ginger lends earthy spice while a juniper forward gin creates the quintessential evergreen backbone. I recommend this delicious smash as a punch for your next holiday party.

  • 1.5 oz. Gin
  • 1.5 oz. Apple liqueur
  • ¾ oz. Fresh lemons juice
  • 1.5 tsp. sugar
  • 10 cranberries
  • 3 thin slices of fresh, peeled ginger

Muddle the ginger and sugar in a Boston shaker. Add the cranberries and keep muddling. Add remaining ingredients and fresh ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Pour unstrained into a rocks glass. If making as a punch, scale ingredients as necessary. Combine liquid ingredients and pre-freeze. Muddle in workable batches, then add ice and pre-chilled liquid to punch bowl.

Blue Blazer (makes two drinks)

The father of American Mixology, Jerry Thomas, debuted the Blue Blazer in his 1862 “Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion.” It is essentially a fiery, dazzling preparation of a scotch hot toddy. If you try this at home, use extreme caution and first practice using only water until your pouring technique is well honed.

  • 4 oz. Single Malt Scotch
  • 4 oz. Boiling water
  • 2 tsp. demerara, turbinado, or brown sugar
  • 6-8 dashes bitters (optional)
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 2 lemon twists (optional)

Preheat two teacups and two metal mugs. Add the sugar, bitters, and water to one mug and the Scotch to the other. Ignite the Scotch and swirl to adequately enliven the alcohol molecules. Carefully pour the flaming scotch into the mug of hot water. Gradually increase the distance between the mugs as you continue to pour the stream of fire back and forth between the mugs. Repeat four or five times. Extinguish the flames in one mug with the base of the other and split the hot concoction between the teacups. Drizzle oil from the lemon twists over the drinks. Garnish each with the twists and lemon slices.

The burden of proof is now yours. Learn better to love unrestrained and with an open mind. Then go make a good unrestrained drink for a good open-minded friend.

A Wyoming native, Jeremy Hugus is a trial lawyer and the owner of Platte River Law Firm by day, a gourmand by night, and a humorist in his dreams. He is passionate about good food and drink and good people and treasures the robust community that blossoms around the table blessed with both. If you have questions or comments, or would like to see a particular spirit or topic featured, please email Jeremy at

A very spirited thanks to Urban Bottle and Platte River Law Firm for helping to make this column possible.