snap pea-infused gin cocktails with basil, cucumber + mint | making adjustments + slowing down

I stood outside in my garden, atop the raised kale and Swiss chard bed, and pressed my cracked phone up to my face, eagerly asking, “Are you outside yet? Is it cloud-covered there? Can you see it, too?” It was just after 8:00PM last Friday night, and my mother and I were standing outside in our respective time zones, which differed by two hours, watching the full, Harvest Moon rise.

“My” moon was full and golden, bloated and sated with possibility, swelling with pride, as it slowly emerged from the east, over the neighboring trees. Back home in Florida, “hers” stood prominently overhead, appearing a little smaller due to its rise, less distorted by the horizon, yet regally shining its sun-reflected light on her driveway, awash on her face.

We marveled at the fact that both of us were observing the very same event, at the very same time, each witnessing differing perspectives. It made the world feel just a little smaller. We stood in silence for a moment and then said our slow goodbyes. I ended the call and sat down on the cedar beams of the raised garden. At first, all was quiet and rather hazy, but as I settled in, the stars came out of hiding, the early evening bats frenetically fluttered above, and the crickets restarted their unified song.

The evening was alive, and, at long last, so was my mind.

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Although summer is coming to an end, I feel as if I didn’t quite get to enjoy it this year. All of the managerial changes at work, along with tending the ever-changing garden, finishing up some home renovations, and cultivating some seriously draining side-projects, left little time to reflect and rest. It started out just fine, with the best of intentions and planning, yet, all of a sudden, the first day of fall is tomorrow.

I didn’t even have the chance to anticipate its arrival.

Just this past Sunday, Steve and I made a concerted effort and commitment to host a couple of friends over for brunch in the backyard. After reflecting on the fact that we hadn’t done anything socially related in weeks, we knew this much-needed respite had to happen. Two of our favorite people on the planet, Kyle and Maeve, arrived with smiles, farm-fresh eggs, and a couple bottles of wine.

Each of us felt we’ve been at our craziest, at our busiest. Somehow, we magically let it all go and surrendered to the slowness of the season and the afternoon. After plates were cleaned and dishes put away, Steve and I drove to one of our favorite hiking paths in the city and took in the fall colors. And instead of hurrying back home, we hit up our neighborhood pizza and beer spot, Esters, and put off a few impending chores.

We never do that, but it was just what we needed.


“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face.”

— John Donne, “Elegy IX: The Autumnal”


I’ve found immense satisfaction – even just this week – in honoring the things that nourish my soul. I made the time to visit my chiropractor, I began to run again, I splurged on a couple of new spirits {Suze and some Yellow Chartreuse, to be specific}, I set aside time to call friends and family members with whom I’d lost touch. I am also trying to wake up earlier, which is proving quite challenging. Thank God for good coffee. Being able to connect with the garden before I venture into the busyness of the restaurant has also brought me centering serenity.

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Our autumnal garden mirrors the sentiments I shared above. The sunflowers’ seed-laden heads are sinking lower and beckoning nearby finches, the nasturtium flowers are turning to seed, and the last leaves of basil are sending out towering, leggy, white-blossomed “fireworks.” This is summer’s grand finale, its farewell to its teasingly long days, balmy nights, and abundant, succulent fruits.

We are trying to sneak in moments to collect herbs and pick ripe tomatoes, despite our hectic schedules. It’s proving even trickier to carve out time to preserve the fruits of our labor. One of our favorite things to do is capture the freshness of summer and preserve it in jams and shrubs or sauces and compotes. An easy means that I love to employ is making infusions. I have a grilled peach-infused whiskey project in the works for next week, but for now, I’m taking this cocktail to the level of all-things-green.

End-of-summer, in a glass.

DSC_2120 DSC_2132 DSC_2091I was inspired by Eric Eastman’s recipe, which incorporates snap pea-infused gin. I made a couple of tweaks and added all of the mint, cucumber, and basil that’s going completely crazy right now in my garden. The result? A sippable capture of our green, late summer garden.

And yes, I put my cocktail on a cake stand because it is completely deserving of this reverence.

To make this garden-fresh tipple, start by harvesting or purchasing some snap peas, a cucumber, and some fresh herbs. Mint and basil will do the trick. No long maceration or steeping times are necessary, either. This drink quickly comes together in less than a few hours’ time. I’ve adapted Eric’s recipe and listed the steps below. The only thing I was missing was some of his Black Pepper bitters.

Those are on my wishlist, though.


snap pea-infused gin


  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped snap peas {pods included}
  • 1 cup dry gin {I used Boodles}
  1. In a mason jar, combine the snap peas and the gin.
  2. Cover and shake well.
  3. Set aside on the kitchen counter for 2-3 hours, shaking when you think about it.
  4. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter and store in an airtight container.
  • The snap pea-infused gin will keep indefinitely. I like keeping mine in the refrigerator, however, so that when I make my cocktail, it’s nice and cold, so it is less diluted by the ice.

basil simple syrup


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • handful of fresh basil, very roughly chopped
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the sugar and fully dissolve, stirring to incorporate.
  3. Remove from heat and toss in the basil. Stir.
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and strain off the solids with a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
  5. Store the infused simple syrup in the fridge and use within a month.
  • As you can see from the photo below, my basil-infused syrup looks a little pinkish. That’s because I used raw sugar and also incorporated some of the basil flowers into the syrup, lending it a slightly amber tint. The flavor was just right, however. To avoid this color, use plain, white sugar.

snap pea-infused gin cocktails with basil, cucumber + mint | holly & flora

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As I mentioned earlier, this cocktail is a twist on one that I tried, when I visited Minnesota for Sherrie and Amanda‘s #BossBabeFestMSP this past July. I attended a cocktail workshop, led by Eric Eastman, held at his studio and rooftop garden. The setting was completely magical. I had just posted a vegetable-driven cocktail days before I met Eric, so enjoying someone else’s veggie cocktail made me all-kinds-of-giddy.


snap pea-infused gin, basil, cucumber + mint cocktails


  • 4 cucumber slices, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 2 ounces snap pea-infused gin {see recipe above}
  • 1/2 ounce basil simple syrup {see recipe above}
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • dash bitters {go for DRAM Black or Easy & Oskey Black Pepper, when it’s in stock}
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the sliced cucumber until well-juiced. Add the mint sprig and gently muddle, pressing just enough to bruise the leaves and release their fragrant oils.
  2. Add the pea-infused gin, basil simple syrup, and lemon juice. Fill the tin about two-thirds’ full with ice.
  3. Shake well and double-strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
  4. Optionally, add a sprig of flowering basil as a garnish.
  • Avoid the tendency to over-muddle the basil leaves. Muddle about six times, in order to release the aromatics. Giving the herb too harsh of a muddle can quickly turn a cocktail bitter and unpleasantly earthy.
  • You can easily make this recipe into a rocks-based cocktail. Just shake and double-strain into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice. Finish with a little club soda.

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Well, in just a few days, I’ll be venturing off to NYC with Steve to attend the Saveur Blog Awards in Brooklyn! I am just now getting excited and feeling all the feels about visiting the city for the first time. I’ve only driven through it on the way to Albany and Schenectady, so that doesn’t quite count as a visit. I am dreaming of pizza and bagels and amazing coffee and a city buzz I’ve only heard about.

That night in the garden with my mom on the phone changed me just a little. A reset, so to speak. I dug my bare feet into the damp grass, breathed in the cool air, and attempted setting intentions for the upcoming fall season. I’ll be more present, I’ll say “no” to things that don’t serve my purpose, I’ll get up earlier, I’ll write those letters, and I’ll savor the moments without wishing they were something any different from what they are.

Jayme

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13 thoughts on “snap pea-infused gin cocktails with basil, cucumber + mint | making adjustments + slowing down

  1. danielle | rooting the sun

    the autumn, here she readies herself – and it seems, now more than ever, that I didn’t have time to anticipate her arrival either. so fast I feel the seasons change some years. this is the most beautiful and delicate ode in a glass Jayme! sweet snap peas and heady basil – I love this combination so much. I am ever a fan of your passion – may New York be a blast and much, much love. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Danielle, I always love it, when you pop by and say hello! I am so with you here, in that I didn’t even have an opportunity to pine for autumn’s arrival. I only wish summer were still here, and I were still anticipating fall’s arrival. The thing about fall is that the anticipation is sometimes the best part, for the season is so short. At least, it seems short here. I am hoping for a long, warm, Indian summer to abate my seasonal sadness. And yes, the basil and the snap peas go together just perfectly.

      I hope you two {and pup!} are enjoying your new spot on the property and that you are soaking up the snippets of fall you’ve been given. Big love your way! XO! And thanks for the good, NYC vibes. I’m excited for a getaway, but I don’t think it will hit me, until we are on the plane … and a mimosa is in my hand! #dontjudge 😉

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    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Donna, I would absolutely love to – so much to talk about and catch up on, for both of us, I’m sure. It’s been a little crazy at work, but I can definitely make some time for coffee or tea. Meeting up is LONG overdue, and I would love to see you!! The garden has been a little challenging this season. Our sweet neighbors {seriously, they’re super nice} had their lawn company “fix their lawn”, which, inadvertently, caused our tomatoes to die. The herbicides killed them. All is well, and, thankfully, we have several plants doing just fine inside the confines of our yard. We’ve been supplementing with trips to the store and farmers’ market. …gardening challenges… You know how those go. I hope that your live art party went well; I’m sure it did. We were super sorry to have missed it. You had MUCH more fun that day than we did! 😉

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  2. Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek

    Jayme. I cannot tell you how much I relate to this post! First of all, this drink is like my spirit animal (ha, get it?). Literally all of my favorite things in a glass. I will be making this very very soon! But also your note on slowing down is what I’m thinking about now too. It always seems to me that autumn is a good time to reflect and take a look around because of the evident change in season. And last, but not least, good luck at the awards! I voted for you😉 Let me know if you have free time to grab a drink or two in the city!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Hey, Kelsey! As you can see, I am a little behind on things – finally getting back to you! In fact, I had a dream last night, and you and Amanda of Heartbeet Kitchen kept asking me to join you around different coffee shops in town, and I kept showing up late. I couldn’t “catch up.” After three times of “standing you up”, y’all finally got annoyed and quit inviting me. Silliness.
      I really wish we could have gotten together in NYC. It’s crazy how long it takes to get to a place that’s relatively close, right? I’m sure there will be a next time. I fell in love with the city and hope to be back soon in a less structured format. Thanks SO much for giving it a try, though! XOXO!

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  3. Joan Steese

    It was nice you and Steve made time in your busy schedules to entertain friends. I wish I was there to enjoy some of those end of summer veggies. Enjoy New York! Mom

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      I so love it when you pop by!! I wish you lived closer, so we could all do brunch together. We are SO excited for NY. Actually, that’s a partial truth. I can’t wait to just get some serious sleep or a good, solid nap on Sunday, when we get to the apartment. It’s been crazy at work!

      Steve and I are grabbing lunch out at YaYa’s and looking over at the table we sat at that one time together. XOXOX!!

      ….and fingers crossed for Thanksgiving!! 🤗

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    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Your finger-crossing worked, Laurie!! …as you know! 😉 It was wonderful up there, and I can’t wait for another visit one day. I think I’m still recovering from all of the food we ate, and it is now mid-October. Hope you have a beautiful rest of your week!

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  4. Pingback: Friday Faves

  5. Faring Well

    Jayme, it has been too long and I’m a little late to the game here – but my goodness was I meant to read your words today. I love how you write and the way you describe things you see, it’s like I’m reading my favorite book that I never want to end. I feel you on the business of summer making it fly by without a ton of reflection, and I think that it why fall is my favorite. Those shorter days are welcomed – less work, more rest. Time to just think! We are so wired to work all the time, we forget to live outside of it, and I am so happy to hear that is what you are embracing now. I’m trying to too and the days I succeed are some of the best. Cheers to hanging in your garden and doing things that bring you a sense of purpose ❤ you are one special human, Jayme. Hugs and hugs and hugs from CA – xo

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Ha! I’m saying the very same thing, as I respond to a couple of comments this morning. It seems that I just can’t keep up with life’s pace right now. Your words MADE my day, when I read them, Jessie!! I mean it. 🙂 Since writing this post, I have seriously done my best to slow down, but it seems that circumstances keep popping up that challenge me even further. I suppose this is what I’m supposed to be learning – balance, boundaries, and forcing myself to slow down or say no.
      Have a gorgeous day out in CA! I’m currently at a vineyard here in Paonia, CO, and I’m about to go and pick Chardonnay this morning. I am gearing up with plenty of coffee and am already thinking about how sweet sleep will feel tonight! Big Xs and Os from CO!

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