apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | thoughts on intentional living

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There’s nothing quite like a scathing but well-deserved comment from a loved-one, before you’ve even set foot on the floor, first thing in the morning. My alarm had gone off, I had snoozed my standard three times, and I was beginning my morning routine of sleepily scrolling through the emails that had popped up during the night, checking my Instagram feed, and noting the happenings on Facebook. I heard Steve mutter something to me. “What’s that?” I didn’t even look up. Sighing, he asked the question again. Staring at my screen, I quickly responded, “Just one second. I need to finish this email.”

Then I caught the tail end of another question he asked, and I answered, “Um, yes.” Judging from Steve’s facial expression, that was clearly the wrong answer, and it did not even pertain to what he asked. I put down my phone, apologized, and begged him to ask me again. I was going to pay full attention this time. Promise. Instead of posing his question again, he curtly stated, “I am tired of playing second fiddle to your cell phone. Every morning.”

Those words resonated within me. It was true, and I hated to admit it. It’s not like I even care what I am lazily scrolling through, and I know that I’d have a better morning {and relationship!}, if I forewent my daily ritual of catching up on digital details. The guilt of hurting someone I dearly care about tore me apart, and I made a pact then and there that I would not pick up my phone first thing in the morning. I wouldn’t even keep it beside my bed. It would be a tough habit to break.

I felt like Fred Armisen on Portlandia, the “Technology Loop” episode. “Please help me. Please help me.”

So, the past two mornings, I have stored my phone across the room, so I would actually have to get out of bed to turn off my alarm. No more snoozing. No more mindless swiping and tapping. No more trading quality human interaction with my dearest for a one-sided session with a pocket-sized, life-sucking inanimate object. This entire shift of how I choose to spend my morning coincides with an article I read in the latest edition of Uppercase Magazine. The piece focused on how we can fit more intentional creativity into our daily lives, despite the onslaught of digital distractions, and highlighted a book, aptly titled, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. Have you read it?

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

I immediately put that book on hold at the library and decided to make a conscious effort to be more present in my daily life, both in how I interact with others and how I choose to use my personal time. I don’t know if I could go, say, 30 days without social media or my phone; although, it sounds very enticing. Shifting my thoughts toward being more intentional with my actions, however, has yielded some good results, even though I am only three days in on my commitment. I squeezed in a run each morning, started the day with a meditation, and even went outside and connected with my backyard garden. I took time to lie on the ground, take in the smells, look up at the sky, and decide how I wanted to sculpt my day. Why hadn’t I done this any sooner?

I have a long way to go, before these new actions become habits, but I am pointed in the right direction. And I am not exempt from any potholes. In fact, I snoozed this morning, it was raining outside, and I had a raging headache. Initially, I reached for my phone and cozied down in the covers, but I decided against it and forced myself to go out for a run. Even my running wardrobe is currently fighting against me: I have only one matching pair of socks, and I have to wear three of my sports bras to get actual support. No exaggeration. They are that old and stretched out {the bras, that is}. It’s a little embarrassing, and now you know this detail about me. Despite these circumstances, I managed a solid 3-mile run.

So, I’m due for a reward. In the form of a cocktail. It is Friday, after all, and it is important to celebrate the changes we make, right? I’m pretty good at justifying reason for making a drink.

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

I decided upon a whiskey-based cocktail, since I have been on that loop here lately. And since St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, why not an Irish whiskey? This cocktail is slightly sweet, with notes of ripe apricot, has just the right amount of citrus-y acidity, and finishes with a tea-like bitter note. It’s balanced and marries perfectly with the flavor profile of this particular whiskey, Teeling, a small-batch, blended Irish whiskey, which is aged in rum casks.

Teeling’s notes of caramel, baking spices, dried herbs, and orange peel are perfect matches with apricot liqueur, a little lemon juice, a splash of bitters, and a black tea simple syrup. The black tea simple is easy to make and, as I mentioned above, adds a depth of bitterness to the cocktail. Make this simple syrup in advance, so that it has time to cool.

black tea simple syrup

  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 bags organic black tea
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the bags of black tea, and remove from heat.
  2. Let the tea bags steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, carefully pressing out the excess liquid with a spoon.
  3. Place the saucepan back on the stove and bring to a slow boil once again. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • If you wish to make more simple syrup, you can increase the amounts. It’s an easy 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. 
  • This particular recipe for black tea simple syrup will make about 8 cocktails. 
  • The simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator up to one month. If you have any extra, add it to iced coffee or iced tea for an added depth of flavor and sweetener. Black tea simple also marries well with spiced rum. It would be perfect with bourbon and lemon or lemonade, depending upon your desired level of sweetness. 

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

It’s always a fun process to name a cocktail. You can play it safe and simply name it by its ingredients, or you can name it after an author, a book, a movie, an inside joke, or a terrible pun. I’m definitely guilty of the terrible pun, but today I will settle on calling this cocktail, the “Irish Breakfast.” Since black tea is a component of the cocktail, it reminded me of “Irish Breakfast” tea. I figured, if it is a true Irish breakfast, however, whiskey must be involved. And I can so joke about this, since I have a little Irish in me. 😉

irish breakfast

  1. In a mixing glass filled with ice, build the cocktail with the whiskey, apricot liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass, filled with ice.
  4. Add a splash of soda and garnish with a lemon peel.

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

Maybe every once in a while we can take a break from doing everything faster and quicker to reflect on who we are and where we are going.”

– Joe Plumeri

What are you doing this weekend? I will be reconnecting to my garden, turning the compost, dead-heading the grasses and shrubs, and mulching the beds with Steve. I’m regretting signing up for a race this Sunday morning. It would normally be fine, but I forgot that it is officially St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and I’m sure the streets of downtown Denver, where the race is held, will be strewn with the aftermath of Saturday night’s debauchery and its accompanying sights and smells. At least I have a beer to look forward to at the end of the race!

  • How do you detach from your wired world? What means do you have to remain balanced?
  • Do you recommend any helpful books or resources?

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

Here is a peek into what’s happening in the garden this week. It still looks pretty brown, dead, and dismal, but there are signs of life popping up here and there, giving me hope that spring is around the corner. The sights around here will be drastically different even within a month. I am beyond ready for you, spring!

Cheers to an amazing weekend and cheers to intentional living!





  1. ghetran says:

    I´m just like the old you that you´re trying to beat!;-) No running here and lots of coffee to simply feel like a human being in the morning. 😉 I´m trying to distance myself from the wired world, though, as my husband told me “you seem to have more energy for people you barely know than for me”. :-/ Ouch, that hurt. :-/

    • I have actually heard those very same words, as well. It DOES hurt to hear it. I know we need to cultivate our online relationships, but neglecting the people right in front of us, who are asking for interaction, is even more important. It is a tough balance. And yeah, no run today for me, but I am on my second cup {and definitely not the last one!} of coffee this morning! I’m finding that if I set aside specific moments for my online interactions, I feel more in charge of my day, too.

  2. ghetran says:

    Forgot to mention I love your drink! Need to try it as soon as I get well from the flu, ´cause now I can´t taste anything. 😉

  3. Edith Schmidt says:

    Great recipe! A balance in life is important. I have learned that the hard way. Since most of my work and creative ability is done on line it really is hard to find that balance. One of my favorite connections or reconnections was you dear one. (By the way I also check emails in bed, but I limit it to 5 minutes and no snooze) i always have coffee with the benevolent dictator each morning devoid of electronic equipment. We also do a twenty minute meditation together to start the day.

    • Thanks, Edie! 🙂 I feel the same, since most of my work, at least the writing/photography aspect, occurs online, as well. It is part of the job, right? Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in the digital world that it drives me crazy. I have to escape to the mountains or at least my backyard and just hug a tree. I actually did that the other day for a few minutes, and it was seriously grounding.

      That’s AWESOME that you and the BD meditate in the mornings! Steve and I take our time with breakfast and make a French press every morning. We use that time to regroup and plan our day. I am definitely trying to actively schedule moments to check email and have turned off alerts on my phone to avoid feeling constantly pulled by technology.

      PS – I am happy to have reconnected with you, too! Big Xs and Os to you! 🙂

  4. spoonwithme says:

    I love this post Jayme! What a great reminder as I scroll through my phone early in the morning. Technology can suck the “nowness” right out of right now. I LOVE The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. It has a daily quote metaphor, or idea, and he discusses it in a beautiful way , then gives a meditation and a few questions to focus on throughout the day . Aren’t you thrilled to see bits of color popping up?!?

    • Thank you so much, Jenny! I just added The Book of Awakening to my library queue. It sounds like just what I need. I like the idea of focusing on a quote, meditation, or single idea for the day. It makes “making changes” a little more digestible and focused.

      And, yes, I am beyond excited for all of this green popping up!!! Soon, we’ll have all kinds of garden goodness available in our yards and at the farmers’ markets. I saw Kate the other day, and she mentioned her get-together again. I look forward to seeing you in person and catching up! I’ll be sure to make something vegan and delicious to bring. Enjoy this amazingly gorgeous Saturday. I’ll be outside most of it! 🙂

      Oh, my gosh, and speaking of vegan yumminess, have you tried the almond milk creamer by Califia Farms? The pecan caramel one will set you free. I am having some right now with my coffee. It is a well-deserved treat! 😉

      • spoonwithme says:

        Wow, I’ve been a little tardy on my replies lately! I would love to see you at another get-together. That was so fun last year! If not, we should get together anyways and geek out over food and gardening, and whatever else there is to geek out about! I haven’t tried that creamer. It sounds like something that I’d like to drink for dessert!!!

  5. LaNae says:

    A good reminder for us all! I occasionally earn the furry eyeball for mindlessly noodling on Pinterest for hours on end. And I very recently started a blog of my own and already find myself worrying about diving too deeply into the hole. Good reminders and I look forward to reading the responses of others. Yummy looking drink!!

  6. Hi, LaNae! The drink was pretty tasty, if I do say so, myself. Congrats on starting a blog! I love the fact that you are pursuing your passions and documenting it along the way. I have met so many interesting and like-minded individuals through blogging or other platforms of social media. Those relationships are treasured and must be cultivated, too. Just at the right time. I get caught up on Instagram and find myself lost for an hour at times! I even wound up buying a swimsuit from a shop in London because I was scrolling around on Instagram! That happened in the middle of December. :-/

    Good luck with your blogging adventures!

  7. atkokosplace says:

    I will look at my phone first thing to see if my kids have texted me. Other than that I get right to life techno free. I don’t normally get on my computer or phone until the house is quiet. When I’m with friends or family I make a point to have the phone away from me. I want them to be my focus. I’m super happy to be getting my hands dirty. I can tell my garden misses me! Here’s to reconnecting! Koko 🙂

  8. That is such a great rule – keeping the phone away from you, when you’re out with family or friends. I try my best to keep my phone away, when I’m out with friends. My boyfriend and I share a car, so I need to keep my phone close at hand, just in case I’m needed. 😉 I have a friend, who implements a rule, when she is out to dinner with friends: whoever looks at their phone first, PAYS. That’s one way to stay phone-free!

    Yes, cheers to reconnecting! My garden is a little closer after a clean-up today. I just can’t wait until I can actually plant some tomatoes – I’ve been seriously missing them. Thanks for stopping by, Koko! 🙂

  9. paulathomas2015 says:

    Hi Jayme
    Great post about the effects of technology. I have complained many times about that to the Mr. and friends and have tried to keep myself away from most of it, however, with this blog deal and having to create a social media presence I feel as if i’m loosing control of it. I’ll go for days on end without checking my phone, or computer or tablet, and then the entire world seems to have changed in 24 hours. It’s a struggle. Good for you to realize it and make changes for the better.
    I’ll have the Mr. Take a pick at your cocktail recipes so he can start working on some for me, I’m clumsy with alcohol, all I have learned to do with it is drink it ☺️

    • Hello, Paula! I vacillate between “staying on top” of things in the social media world and being a complete stranger. It is a difficult challenge for me, too. I fail daily, but at least I am trying, right?! Steve kind of knows the deal about social media presence, but I know it gets to him at times. I also am a firm believer of keeping the phone out of dinner conversations and coffee dates. Speaking of which, I will send you a message later on – we should totally meet up for coffee, as you suggested. Or maybe we can have a cocktail over here!

  10. I went one whole day without my cell phone: no social media, no emails, no tweets, no FB, no nothing. It was life changing and delicious.

    • I seriously need to do that – no technology ANYTHING for one day. That’s actually attainable, if you plan it properly. Did you have any knee-jerks or twitches? 😉 I think I’d set myself up for a day in the mountains with my camera and a journal. Maybe not even my camera. I think I will take you up on a challenge and try that, myself. Thanks for the inspiration, Meghan!

      • I didn’t think I’d be able to do it at all going in, and my Hubby was so skeptical.

        Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be quite easy. Maybe because I had planned it and mentally accepted it beforehand. Either way, it was lovely for both of us. Good luck with it!!

  11. Jayme, it is so interesting how many people come out of the woodwork when this important topic comes up. It’s so funny that you should post this, as just a few weeks ago I started leaving my phone in the living room over night. Now I actually USE my alarm clock! My phone had become too much of my morning routine, so I went cold-turkey and decided to put an end to it. I now have a much more relaxed and natural wake up, and don’t even think to check my phone until mid-morning. I have been finding that I have become more mindful in other areas of my life recently, although I can’t say for sure if the two are related. I am so glad that you have been feeling better, too! (And thanks for your wonderful note in the mail!)

    • I am going to start using my alarm clock, as well. Leaving my phone across the room has helped, but I’d rather just keep it out in the living room. It’s great that you have a much more relaxing wake-up routine. I’ve actually started waking up before my alarm, even though I don’t think that is related to storing my phone across the room. I have actually been being more mindful in other areas, as well! Funny how that happens – when you are mindful in one area, that sense of mindfulness permeates into other areas, and all of a sudden, you take a deep sigh and feel a grounding peace.

      Happy you got the snail mail! Receiving little pops of happiness in my mailbox makes my day, so I seriously appreciated your note, too. Your latest post is beautiful – I will have to make your friend’s berry and chocolate bundt cakes and pair them with some Port. Have a great week ahead!

  12. Oh the balance… when you find some, please send it my way!

    Three years ago, I didn’t have an iPhone. I could care less. But once I got into blogging, I felt like I HAD to have it. What’s going on? What did I miss?! It’s like a freakin leash!

    So you know what I do now? I let my phone die at night. I know this sounds incredibly irresponsible but whatever- enough is enough. I don’t scroll through IG during commercials anymore (pathetic) and I don’t check it first thing in the morning. I actually force myself to wake up and hour before the boys so I can enjoy the silence. Unplugged. Disconnected. With coffee, always.

    I think it’s definitely hard to find balance since we are digital publishers. And when you disappear from social media for a day, it’s like you missed a month. I’m looking for compromise just like you. And I truly believe when you spend time doing the things you love, like spending time outdoors, gardening, being present- it’s so much easier to create. The ideas flow freely. xoxo

  13. […] here} with Teeling small-batch whiskey and steeped black tea in another cocktail I recently made, the Irish Breakfast. Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot has just the right amount of sweetness, without being […]

  14. […] and black tea blend for an appetite-whetting whiskey cocktail in this recipe from Holly & Flora. Start by making a black tea simple syrup from water, cane sugar, and Irish breakfast tea. Add the […]

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