the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up

Last night, I celebrated Halloween just the way I wanted to: quietly and cozily. The stars had aligned, and it was the first of four consecutive days away from the restaurant for me. We have been going through another managerial transition lately, which has entailed a little stress, so all I wished for was peace and quiet. It sounds kind of Grinch-y, but I turned off all the lights in the house, cracked a bottle of Chablis, cozied up down in the basement, lit some incense, and caught up on a couple of movies.

A big batch of brownies would have really topped it all off. Steve could’ve been there, too. We rarely share evenings off together, so those that we do share are cherished. I was super excited when he arrived home early from work last night, after a “painfully boring” holiday shift. The owner closed the restaurant an hour early, since only 80 people came in for dinner on a night that usually draws close to 200 or more guests. We’ll take every moment to hang outside of work together that we can.

Over the past few months, we have been able to sneak away for two days at a time and visit new-to-us parts of Colorado. We’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn, made the four-hour trek over the Continental Divide, and soaked in as many sights as possible, before driving back to Denver to work the next shift at the restaurant. We’ve gotten very good at maximizing our 48-hour mini-vacays, and we have especially fallen in love with the enchanting town of Paonia, a farming and former coal-mining town, which boasts just a little over 1,500 people. Multiple organic farms and wineries dot the bucolic landscape, shadowed by Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak, within the Gunnison National Forest.

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & floraOur last visit there together a couple weeks ago was beautiful. It’s my favorite time of year to drive up through the mountains. We stayed two nights at Agape Farm and Retreat just outside of Paonia. This bed and breakfast is nestled in the middle of an organic farm with access to a pine forest, an award-winning Pinot Gris vineyard, an heirloom apple orchard, and a vibrant, organic vegetable garden. The hosts, Nancy and her son, Nick, were the most gracious and accommodating. I seriously experienced the most peaceful night’s rest I’d had in years.

We stayed in Agape’s suite, a large room with 360-degree views of the property, built a fire both nights, and woke up to Nick’s home-cooked breakfasts. I’m still dreaming of his pancakes with cherry compote. We took in the sights and sounds of the farm, walking the property, meeting Nancy’s small alpaca herd, and picking ripe, heirloom apples. We took home an overflowing box of their apples, and I’m still making batches of apple butter, apple tarts, and apple cocktails with them. I even decided to give a fall twist to a cocktail I hadn’t tried since my college days, the Long Island Iced Tea.

I know, I know.

Insert your craziest, drunken stories and memories of the worst hangovers ever, but give me a moment. This cocktail has a well-known reputation of being potent and cloyingly sweet, an “amateur’s cocktail”, if you will. Someone should just up and rename it, “Bad Decisions” or, perhaps, “Tomorrow’s Regrets.” When Drizly, an online alcohol delivery service I’ve partnered with before, reached out to me and asked me to come up with a fall twist on this cocktail, I was determined to make a delicious, grownup, not-so-potent version of this drink.

dsc_3243 the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora

This cocktail quickly became a classic, known for its potency. Purportedly created in 1972 by Robert “Rosebud” Butts, a bartender at the Oak Beach Inn in Long Island, New York, the Long Island Iced Tea is comprised of equal parts, gin, tequila, vodka, light rum, and orange curaçao or triple sec, along with varying amounts of lemon juice, simple syrup, and cola.

It packs a punch and requires careful measuring of the various ingredients. I usually use a jigger when measuring out the components of my cocktails, but for this recipe, I used a scale made by The Perfect Drink. Drizly sent me one to try, and I really enjoy the accuracy it provides. You can even download The Perfect Drink app and discover over 400 cocktail recipes. I especially liked the app’s ability to filter through recipes, based upon the ingredients you have on hand.

For this version of the Long Island Iced Tea, I warmed up the recipe and gave it a fall-flavored theme. I subbed barrel-aged gin, honey-infused vodka, and aged rum for a richer flavor profile. I also added muddled apples from our trip and brought depth by making the simple syrup with raw sugar and cinnamon. All of these flavors marry perfectly with sparkling cider. The result is a crisp, bright, cozy cocktail that is still deceptively on the strong side.

As for the name? The apples we picked grow in the fertile farmlands of Colorado’s North Fork Valley, home to the verdant farm towns of Paonia, Crawford, and Hotchkiss. The apples and peaches grown here are some of the best you’ll ever try.


the north fork iced tea


  • 1 apple, sliced roughly into eighths or large chunks
  • 1 ounce Old Tom gin {I used Ransom Spirits}
  • 1 ounce añejo tequila {I used Milagro}
  • 1 ounce honey vodka {I used Spring 44 Honey}
  • 1 ounce aged rum {I used Tesouro Small-Batch}
  • 1 ounce dry orange curaçao {I used Pierre Ferrand}
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 ounces cinnamon-honey syrup {see recipe notes}
  • 2-3 dashes spiced orange bitters {I used Miracle Mile}
  • 4-6 ounces sparkling cider {I used Martinelli’s}
  • fresh apple slices and cinnamon sticks, for garnish
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the apple chunks, expressing as much juice as possible.
  2. Add the Old Tom gin, tequila, vodka, rum, dry curaçao, lemon juice, cinnamon-honey syrup, and a couple dashes of bitters.
  3. Fill the tin with ice and shake well. Taste for balance and adjust accordingly, adding a little more lemon juice or simple syrup if necessary.
  4. Carefully double-strain and divide the mixture into two collins glasses filled with fresh ice.
  5. Finish each cocktail with sparkling cider.
  6. Garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick.
  • This recipe yields two cocktails.
  • For the cinnamon-honey syrup, bring 1 cup of water, 1 cup of raw sugar, and 5 cinnamon sticks to a boil, stirring along the way to fully dissolve the sugar. Let simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon sticks and store the syrup in the fridge for up to one month. This is a perfect, versatile simple syrup to use in spiced fall cocktails.
  • It seems that Tesouro rum is no longer making their outstanding rum. If you can’t source it, I recommend Plantation or Ron Zacapa. Those are two of my favorite producers.

Have you ever been a fan of the Long Island Iced Tea? If so, do you have a seasonal riff on the classic? I’m such a fan of giving twists and new life to forgotten or played-out drinks. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & floraInstead of adding cola to the mix, since the cocktail already has a richer flavor profile, I opted to finish the drink with sparkling apple cider. Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider is easy to find, super effervescent, and not too sweet. Their cider is made from tree-ripened, hand-picked apples and is delicious on its own and as a cocktail mixer.

Two of my regulars, Dr. and Mrs. Hafiz, don’t drink, but they do keep a case of Martinelli’s sparkling cider there at the restaurant. We always make their visit extra special by having a chilled bottle of the non-alcoholic bubbly in a wine bucket on their table, complete with Champagne flutes, when they arrive. When I went on a cleanse last November, I picked up a couple bottles, myself, and I knew that sparkling cider would become a recurring cocktail mixer at the house. The Hafizes were on to something good.

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & floraSpeaking of said cleanse, I am back on it as of today. Wish me some serious luck, as I go 100% plant-based and without sugar, caffeine, or alcohol until Thanksgiving. I must be a sucker for pain, since I am embarking on this cleanse and forgoing some of my favorite indulgences during the busiest season of the year. I’m already dreaming up a few non-alcoholic drinks to make this month, with hopes of posting a few recipes either here or over on Instagram.

Cheers to soaking up these final days of fall, where the remaining leaves still defiantly hang on the trees and continue to cover the ground in brilliant color. I’ll be outside this evening harvesting the very last of the tomatoes and tomatillos, collecting wildflower seeds, tilling up the soil, and coercing the kale to carry on a little longer. The last round of apple butter made from those delicious Paonia apples is bubbling away in the Crock-Pot, as I type. {I promise you, Nancy, I’ll send you a jar, once it’s ready!}

XO,

Jayme

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora

 

 

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7 thoughts on “the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up

      1. writely2015

        Me too re the light. I’ve been going crazy with photography and blogged about what makes fall light so good for photos this week. I looked at the booze in that drink and thought it would blow my socks off. That’s good right? Have to give it a whirl

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Emily || In Our Cups

    I have such fond memories of Paonia! A friend and I, both vegetarians, drove cross-country from San Francisco to North Carolina in 2004, and Paonia was the site of the first meal we had that wasn’t just side dishes or boring salads. I can’t recall the name of the restaurant, and I don’t know whether it’s still there, but it was such a lovely oasis: we ate outside at dusk, enjoyed some local cider and wine with our dinner, and reveled in every single thing we ordered. So, so lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      This makes me so happy!! I’m loving the fact that you know about this gem of a town. I wonder if you visited the Living Farm Café in town? They are a farm-to-table restaurant that sources from its own farm. The entire valley is like an oasis, as you described it. You’ll have to go back; it has changed a lot since then, I’m sure. What an amazing trip that must have been. I would love to just sell my house and take a countrywide road trip.

      …so tempted…

      And next time you’re out in CO, you’ll have to try some wines from either 5680 or Stone Cottage Cellars – truly delicious Colorado wines I’ve recently come across.

      Like

      Reply
  2. paulathomas2015

    i have never tried a long island iced tea as i’m terrified of the loads of alcohol and regretful memories that come with it. Glad you had squeezed time to travel and enjoy yourselves, we can sometimes forget how important it is to connect and be present in our lives, more so than just working to collect stuff and pay bills…happy cleanse!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      …as you should be!! <– regarding the loads of alcohol that usually accompany that cocktail. We could share one. That's about all I'm good for, too. 😉 Thanks for the support on the cleanse, Paula. So far, it's been good. I've gotten up earlier and rekindled my morning yoga practice. You're so right about remembering to be present and that "working to collect stuff and pay bills" is just not where our attention should be. Great thoughts to meditate on. It's so easy to get caught up in that mentality. That's why resets are so good for us. Hugs!!

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