At holiday parties, hosts like to entice their guests with seasonal cocktails. Why not add a bit of pizzazz in front of your guests with these drinks?

Perhaps you've always wanted to learn how to flame a shot, layer colorful liqueurs or choose unexpected garnishes - don't be afraid to attempt something more complicated than the typical rum and Coke or blender margarita.

"Be precise and be engaging," said Jan Hegewald, bar manager at the Cornerstone Bar & Grill in Ketchum. He suggests making eye contact with your guests as you mix the drink, and sharing a few of the techniques you are using to inspire them to try it at home - or come back to you for more cocktails. "My favorite time of day is when it's slower, when I can show people how to do creative things, little tweaks and technical aspects that really impress."

Bartenders say mixing showpiece drinks inspires customers to leave better tips - for home mixologists that might translate to conversation starters or even new friends.

"It's kind of gratifying as a bartender, when you're known as the one who does cool drinks," said Canyon Crest Dining & Event Center daytime bartender Afton Fenn. "A person who would have private parties, if they learn how to do it, everyone would think they were the cool kids on the block."

Don't think you have to master tossing glasses into the air or pouring from a great height to get your party guests cheering, Hegewald said - while full of flair, those techniques can lead to imprecision in the finished product.

"I'm not a flippy, spinny bartender," he said, acknowledging that those moves can look impressive. Instead, he concentrates on precision in mixing to keep the guests happy after they've taken their first sip. "It appeals to me because it's challenging. You can create drinkable art."

See the recipes and photo gallery by clicking on the links below.

Ariel Hansen may be reached at 788-3475 or ahansen@magicvalley.com.

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