pumpkin pie martini with coconut cream + homemade pumpkin spice syrup

Today is the first day it actually feels like fall here in Denver. Cool, rainy, and cozy. Thankfully, I have the day off, and I defiantly plan on staying in my PJs most of the morning. There just may be a Hobbit marathon in the works. I am actually welcoming the idea. I came home from work rather late last night, and my entire house smelled of freshly cut basil. Steve took an inventory of the garden and harvested enough vegetables and herbs to span the surface area of our dining room table. There’s so much here to be grateful for.

Between the Hobbit movies, there will be lots of pesto-making, tomato-puréeing, chutney-prepping, and herb-drying. All of these are easily accomplished in my PJs, for the record. I think the most exciting event this Wednesday, however, is Sara Cornelius of Cake Over Steak‘s fabulous roundup, celebrating all-things-pumpkin! It is a #virtualpumpkinparty, and over 70 bloggers are sharing their favorite pumpkin-inspired recipes.

I couldn’t resist the challenge to create a pumpkin cocktail. And not one of those pumpkin-flavored cocktails with whipped cream vodka and store-bought pumpkin spice syrup. Oh, no. This one’s the real deal, and it’s made with full-fat coconut milk, a bitter amaro, homemade pumpkin spice simple syrup, and aged rum.

And it’s delicious. And you can already thank us all for fulfilling your pumpkin desires throughout the rest of the year.

pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & floraIf you’ve visited Sara’s blog before, you are well aware of her insanely mad illustration skills. At times, I don’t know which of her recipes and food shots are her digital drawings or actual photos. And I can’t believe I somehow missed her post on an elaborate whiskey-tasting party, complete with bourbon cookie dough shots. Good thing I have all of the ingredients to make these today. Maybe that’s a bad thing.

So, pumpkin cocktails. I really haven’t had much luck finding one I liked. For this recipe, I wanted to make sure the final concoction wasn’t cloyingly sweet, was in balance, and didn’t contain anything artificially flavored. I scoured some recipes and finally decided to make a roasted pumpkin-based, spiced simple syrup. I chose a rim, composed of toasted pumpkin seeds, salt, a little sugar, and a dash of cayenne pepper, just enough to offset the sweetness of the drink.

pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora


pumpkin pie martini


  1. Run a slice of lemon along the rim of a martini glass {or coupe} and gently coat the edge of the glass in the spiced pumpkin seed rim. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing tin, combine the rum, roasted pumpkin simple syrup, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, Grand Marnier, coconut milk, and bitters.
  3. Add a handful of ice and shake well.
  4. Strain into the martini glass or coupe and serve immediately.
  • This recipe yields one cocktail.
  • Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk for the richest texture.
  • If you’re unable to find Ron Zacapa, sadly, feel free to substitute another aged rum. Zaya Gran Reserva is another of my favorites.

pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora

A lot of recipes call for vanilla vodka or an espresso liqueur; however, I really enjoyed pairing the Caribbean flavors of rum and coconut in this fall libation, along with freshly roasted pumpkin. This cocktail is not meant to mimic a PSL, but feel free to use this simple syrup in your next homemade cappuccino or latte. This roasted pumpkin simple syrup is actually inspired by Melissa over at the Faux Martha. I tested out three different pumpkin syrups, and hers was spot-on. I made a few adaptations, but she is the true inspiration. And she’s also participating in the #virtualpumpkinparty!

pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora


roasted pumpkin simple syrup


  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • pinch nutmeg
  1. You’re more than welcome to use canned pumpkin, but if you have a pumpkin on-hand, slice it in half, remove the seeds, and place the sides face-down in a casserole or baking dish, filled with about a 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until fork-tender.
  2. In a blender, process the water, roasted pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract, sea salt, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Let the blender run about 30 seconds or until well incorporated.
  3. Pour the contents into a saucepan and bring to a light simmer. Let the pumpkin mixture slowly simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois into a mason jar. Cool before using or storing in the refrigerator.

pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & floraThe perfect juxtaposition between this slightly sweet cocktail, with its rich, subtle, bitter notes, is the toasted pumpkin seed rim. With a little salt, sugar, and spice, the contrast brings balance to this savory, yet dessert-like, cocktail.


toasted pumpkin seed rim


  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds {pepitas}
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of sugar
  • dash of chili powder or cayenne powder
  1. Blend the toasted pumpkin seeds for about 30 seconds, until the seeds reach a texture of a fine powder.
  2. Add salt, sugar, and chili powder to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Store in an airtight container.

pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora

I’ll close with a list of the collaborators in Sara’s pumpkin party, along with a few photos from the last of what’s happening in our garden. I couldn’t resist shooting yet another cocktail alongside all of the fall color. This is my most favorite time of the year, so you’ll probably see a few more fall leaves in this space. Be forewarned.

  • Do you have a favorite pumpkin-based cocktail that actually tastes fantastic?
  • What things are you making all-things-pumpkin?

Big Xs and Os for the rest of the week! And big wishes on enjoying all the things pumpkin!

Jayme


#virtualpumpkinparty


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Jayme Henderson

I am a sommelier-turned-farmer, who recently moved to Colorado's Western Slope to become a full-time grower of grapes and maker of wine. My husband, Steve, and I own and live on a vineyard, where we craft high-elevation white wine and rosé under our label, The Storm Cellar. I enjoy freelance writing and photography, and I am currently the cocktail columnist for Colorado's Spoke+Blossom magazine. I love playing with our two cats, gardening, mixing drinks, finding (and sipping!) great sparkling wine, cooking, playing the piano, and hiking.

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17 Comments

  1. Reply

    Faring Well

    October 21, 2015

    #1 Your garden is insane. #2 Can I drizzle that pumpkin syrup on everything?! #3 This is seriously the best weather here in Denver ever! I second you to the hobbit marathon, and raise you a harry potter one too! 😉

    • Reply

      Jayme Henderson

      October 21, 2015

      #1 Thank you, Jessie!! It’s slowly fading, but I’ll take as much from it, as I can! #2 Yes. I strongly encourage it, especially in granola, in lattes, in ice cream, or directly from the jar. 😉 #3 Challenge accepted! Harry Potter 5 is in the cue. #4 Your photos on your last post were so beautiful! #5 <– I originally typed out "#4" again. It's officially time to power-off. Cheers!

  2. Reply

    Brooke Bass

    October 23, 2015

    Oh my gosh, I can’t even get over this cocktail. It’s gorgeous! And probably the most thoughtful pumpkin cocktail I’ve ever seen. That rim with the cayenne?! Brilliant, Jayme!!

    PS: Can I join in on that HP marathon?

    • Reply

      Jayme Henderson

      October 23, 2015

      Thanks so much, Brooke! I’ve definitely had my share of lackluster or way-too-sweet pumpkin cocktails, so I didn’t want any of those characteristics to show. I even crowd-sourced some feedback from the chefs I work with – we ended up consuming a little too much one night after work! 😬 What we do for recipe testing…! And an HP marathon is always on the books here. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of them!! Happiest of weekends to you!

  3. Reply

    Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist

    October 23, 2015

    I am so impressed with your cocktail skills! And the pumpkin seed rimming sugar, whhhhat? So clever! Your garden photos are incredible. It must have been such fun coming home to have a full harvest on your dining table. We have two above ground boxes that we planted this year. It is so satisfying grown our own food.

    • Reply

      Jayme Henderson

      October 24, 2015

      It is SOOOO nice to come home to already-picked veggies. 😉 It sounds weird, but I’m kinda glad that the season is coming to an end. That means I have a few more hours available to me each week. You know what I mean. Sometimes, the garden can become a chore, but there’s always a point, where you realize how rewarding it is. All of a sudden, you’re grateful again. What did you guys plant in your boxes this year?! We are so into raised beds, too! They act as their own micro-climate, and the pests are less likely to invade because of their distance from the ground. I seriously wouldn’t have it any other way than growing my own food. That sense of creativity and independence permeates into every area of my life and makes me a stronger and more capable person. :-))))) Happy weekend, Kathryn!

      • Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist

        October 24, 2015

        I can relate to the relief of the season ending even though I have loved harvesting all summer. It can be stressful planning and managing the whole project! But overall I love it. This year we planted: LOTS of tomatoes, butter lettuce, lots of herbs, cucumbers, peppers (we only got one), scallions, and some sweet potatoes (we just harvested these and are so excited to eat them). We had such incredible luck with pests this summer. We barely had any trouble. Probably because of the raised beds. This is the first summer that I really let what I was growing dictate our meals for the week. The experience was new and so wonderful. Like you said, gardening makes me so grateful for food, the earth, family, creativity, and on and on.

  4. Reply

    Bright Young Food

    October 27, 2015

    These look amazing! LOVE your wonderful photos 🙂

    • Reply

      Jayme Henderson

      November 7, 2015

      Thank you so much, Tasha! …I love/want/need your pumpkin cookies! 😉

  5. Reply

    Laurie Fraser

    November 3, 2015

    I don’t know how I found your blog but I am very grateful…..especially something you wrote about not pinging between Instagram etc and just doing the ‘work’, and the Cohen quote about letting in the light….the question I keep asking myself is this? “Why do you write a blog that no one reads?” I guess I feel as though it is an exercise in internet futility and I should just garden and be content. In search of Wisdom re this…

    • Reply

      Laurie Fraser

      November 5, 2015

      I don’t mean your blog…..I mean mine that no one reads!

    • Reply

      Jayme Henderson

      November 7, 2015

      Laurie, I’m so happy to have met you, as well!

      Your writing and your garden and your sweet dog and love for your husband shine so beautifully on your blog. I, too, find the blogging world and the online world confusing. Confusing in that it brings people so close together, but it can also separate people. Sometimes, I feel like I’m writing in the dark or yelling my words in an empty room, but if I’ve curated and nurtured that empty room, and that creative space is beautiful and fulfilling to me, do I really need anyone else there to deem it worthy of its existence? I totally get what you’re saying about its being “an exercise in internet futility.”

      And yes! That Cohen quote is one of my favorites! I’m so happy you share the same admiration for it. I wish you all the best during this darker season. I’m already sketching out plans for next year’s garden. Crazy. I should just enjoy the peace that the dormant season brings. 🙂

  6. Reply

    Sara @ Cake Over Steak

    December 4, 2015

    I think you’re a cocktail genius. This is such an interesting combination … thanks for this lovely contribution to the pumpkin party!

    • Reply

      Jayme Henderson

      December 4, 2015

      Thanks so much, Sara! Muuuaahhh! That’s an air kiss, btw. I get so used to using emojis on my phone, that I sometimes feel inept without them here on my computer! 😉 I think this is the only pumpkin-y cocktail that I’ve ever really loved. The toasted pumpkin seed rim really contrasted the cocktail well. Thanks for hosting such a fun shindig and happy weekend!!

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