Crafted with Passion

Bartenders are basically artists. From mixing drinks to decorating each glass, bartending is a form of art and it’s definitely not easy to master. 

By Graham House  ::  Photography by Kelsey Guzman

A well-crafted cocktail embodies everything we honor about the American spirit, and its resurgence unsurprisingly harkens back to simpler times. The historical influences of the movement are evident now with new techniques that embolden the traditions into a craft. That’s why bartenders must graduate from bartending school or an online bartending school to gain the profession. No one can simply “mix drinks.” Bartending is a serious thing.

It’s so serious that there are mixologists out there in the world. What are mixologists? Mixologists are people who are very skilled in mixing cocktails and drinks. Clearly, they’re masters behind the job. Crystal Thompson is our master mixologist at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch and has that creativity to design one-of-a-kind cocktails. Crystal graduated from professional bartending school in 2016 and has been exploring the craft by experimenting with new alcohol products, infusions, salts and presentations. Crystal thrives learning new techniques and will be attending the well-known San Antonio Cocktail Conference in January. 

Crystal creates a unique experience with cocktail crafting for the membership at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. Here is a sampling of her offerings.


F R O Z E N  D R I N K S

Kahlua, Brandy, Crème de Cacao, Frangelico and Ice Cream

Bacardi, Watermelon, Lime Juice and Orange Juice


RumChata, Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Creamand Chocolate Sauce with RumChata Whipped Cream


George Dickel Whiskey, Peaches, Honey, Lemon and Lime Juice

Rosé Wine, Strawberries, Belvedere Vodka and Lemon Juice

Fresh Pineapple, Coconut Milk,  Rum Haven Coconut Rum and Lime Juice

S P E C I A L T Y   L I B A T I O N S

Eagle Rare Whiskey, Pomegranate Juice and Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Seersucker Lemonade Gin, Fresh Blueberries and Fresh Squeezed Lemonade


Prosecco and Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice

Jack Daniel’s Bourbon, Solerno, Blood Oranges and Angostura Bitters

Pimm’s  No. 7, Beefeater Gin, Ginger Ale, Muddled Fruit and Mint


Deep Eddy’s Peach Vodka, Chambord and Pineapple Juice

Patron Silver Tequila, Bauchant, Jalapenos, Agave and Lime Juice

Holidays in a Wrap

It’s that time of year again! The time to celebrate with your loved ones and get in quality time that you have missed out on during the year. It’s also time for mulled wine, eggnog and hot buttered rum while sitting around the outdoor fire pit. We would like to share with you our personal favorite holiday beverages.  

The best parts of growing up in Kentucky are the derby and bourbon. During the holiday seasons, the snow would blanket the miles of horse farms as we drove to Aunt Tommie’s home. As kids we loved to go to her home and sneak handfuls of bourbon balls and cups of bourbon eggnog. Oh yes, we paid for that feast! Years later I acquired her recipe and this is our holiday tradition. Making eggnog the old-fashioned way takes a while but always tastes better than buying a carton. 

Kentucky Bourbon EggNog
Courtesy of Graham House

12 large eggs
1 quart of milk
1 cup of superfine or powdered     sugar, divided
1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract
2 cups of heavy cream
3 cups of Ancient Age (Now it’s Buffalo Trace)
Semi-sweet chocolate shavings and nutmeg

• Separate 12 large eggs into 2 medium-sized bowls. Put the egg whites in the refrigerator (you’ll use them during the final step). 

• In a large pan, stir together 1 quart of milk, 1/2 cup of superfine or powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract. Bring to a gentle boil, then take it off the burner. 

• Beat the egg yolks for 2-3 minutes to thicken them. Take a cup of the hot milk and pour it slowly into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the hot milk, continuing to whisk it so it thickens smoothly.

• Return the saucepan to the burner and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir it constantly. You’ll know it’s ready when the eggnog is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

• Pour the mixture into a sealable container. If you like, you can cover the surface of the eggnog with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a skin. Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours).

• With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft, white peaks form. Slowly add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, and continue mixing until the peaks stiffen. Then rinse the mixer blades and whip 2 cups of heavy cream until it thickens, adding another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar as you do.

Now get your chilled eggnog mixture and pour it into a large punch bowl. Slowly stir in 3 cups of Buffalo Trace bourbon. With a spatula, fold in (don’t stir) the whipped cream, and then the egg white mixture. Put it back in the fridge to chill for at least an hour. Keep chilled until just before serving. Garnish with semi-sweet chocolate shavings and nutmeg as the final touch. 


Seasonal Bourbon Smash
Courtesy of Crystal Thompson

You do not need a full bar and you do not have to be a bartender or a mixologist to make this wonderful delight. It is fruity but not too sweet, and slightly creamy. It has bright citrus flavors and it is simple to make.

2 oz bourbon of choice
½ oz triple sec
½ oz fresh squeezed orange juice 
1 oz preserves or jam (blackberry or raspberry work well)
Orange segments 
Cinnamon Stick
Splash of soda

• Add bourbon, triple sec, fresh squeezed orange juice and preserves into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously!  

• In a prepared rocks glass, pour cocktail over fresh ice. 

• Add orange segments and berries to bring your cocktail to life. 

• Last but not least, splash a little soda on top. Place a cinnamon stick in as the stirrer and serve.


Graham House is the Clubhouse and Lodging Manager at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at or 830.336.9164.

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