If you aren’t yet acquainted with the predictably unpredictable spring weather here in Colorado, allow me to provide an introduction. It’s Wednesday, March 29th, and we have yet to crest a day above 50ºF. Oh, the visible signs of spring are all here – daffodil spires, tulip pokes, emergent weeds, longer afternoons – but the weather patterns haven’t quite yet followed their lead.
If you know, you know.
I just backspaced several sentences because I feel like, as a farmer, I think about and talk about the weather a lot, ad nauseam, but then I remembered that my readership consists of a lot of gardeners and farmers, who are on that same wavelength. Audience understood; I’ll keep going. I have four weather apps that I routinely check at various times throughout the day. Some swing conservatively; others swing tumultuously. I’m a big fan of a balanced takeaway, so that’s why I observe all four.
Over the winter and early spring months, one of the first things I do when I wake up, aside from reading a daily devotion and submitting my score on my Wordle text thread, is check the snow-water equivalent on the Natural Resources Conservation Service site. It’s basically a daily record, in the form of a growing graph, that displays the amount of recorded precipitation. It indicates the water-availability for the basin from which we obtain our summer irrigation water, and it is an obsession of mine, to observe and zoom in on, as it determines not only how much water we’ll have for our vineyard but also how potentially challenging our summer tasks might be.
Welcome to Colorado’s False Spring
Like I mentioned above, signs of spring are definitely here, but we’ve dipped down to temps in the teens just two days ago and received a substantial amount of early-spring rain and snow. This surplus of precipitation has, in turn, delayed our ability to work in the vineyard or garden and also slowed down the rate at which the native plants, grapevines, and perennials have emerged. We’re slated to have a week of sunshine and warmer temperatures, but I’ve been fooled before.
Nothing – not even these first signs of spring – is permanent.
It’s a lesson in balancing feelings of excitement and commitment to life, color, and growth with legitimate breakdowns and potentially crop-devastating spring weather-swings. My husband and I may think we have developed a keen reflex of remaining in a constant state of flux and flexibility, but when foot hits the pavement, it’s a tough trait to summon.
Whether I’m fretting about the weather or feeling elated that it’s befriending me, I have the joy and mental escape of writing the cocktail column for the Western Slope’s premier paper magazine, Spoke+Blossom. This quarterly publication is the go-to source for discovering adventure on the Western Slope of Colorado. For the spring issue, the theme of the magazine is “flourish.”
When I think of something flourishing – say, a plant – I imagine its being rooted, supported, and sustained, so that it can blossom and grow into another form of nourishment for its caretaker. As humans, we flourish when our deeds find another home within the hearts of others. Kind of like how a fractal keeps expanding and replicating indefinitely.
The Petal Pusher Cocktail
The first flowers of spring are a sign of rebirth and hope, after a long season of dormancy and unseen growth. It’s the moment where potential energy becomes kinetic. Where the plans become actualized. I wanted to create a cocktail that embodied this same feeling, where the energy I’ve dreamed about, mourned over, or even cultivated comes to life.
One of the easiest, high-impact measures you can take to give a little flourish to your cocktails is sourcing – or even growing – edible flowers. I love intermingling edible flowers within my vegetable garden. With colorful, fragrant garnishes in mind, I regularly sow dianthus, violas, and micro marigolds in my garden, so that I always have the perfect finishing touch for drinks.
I’ve linked the recipe for you below.
For this spring cocktail, inspired by a classic margarita, I really wanted the floral component to shine in the flavor profile. The pop of tart raspberry is balanced by the rich, floral sweetness of the elderflower liqueur, resulting in a refreshing sip that’s a bright welcome to spring’s arrival, primed for your next seasonal gathering.
I’ll breakdown the ingredients I compiled for this refreshing, bright, and zesty recipe, but first, I’ll offer a non-negotiable step that I take every time a make a drink. Once you’ve mixed your cocktail, and while it’s still in the mixing tin, be sure to taste for acid and sugar balance. Even when you’re following a recipe, it’s crucial to taste for balance. In this case, keep in mind that raspberries can range from super tart to lush and sweet, so adjust the lime juice and simple syrup accordingly.
Ingredients for the Petal Pusher Cocktail
- Raspberries – The sweetness level for raspberries can range from super tart to lush, juicy, and sweet, so be sure to adjust the amounts of simple syrup and lime juice in this recipe, as the ripeness of this fruit can seasonally shift.
- Blanco Tequila – I love a good blanco or silver tequila in this recipe for its bright, un-oaked style. I opted for a local favorite of mine, Suerte Tequila, whose blanco is a particularly herbaceous, silver-style tequila.
- Elderflower Liqueur – Like many other bartenders, I affectionately call elderflower liqueur “bartender’s ketchup.” Rightfully so, as it lifts and adds depth to so many cocktails. One of my recent Colorado-made finds is Wood’s High Mountain Distiller’s Fleur de Sureau elderflower liqueur.
- Simple Syrup – Go with a simple 1:1 syrup, which is equal parts sugar and water. It gives just enough sweetness and contributes just the right amount of viscosity.
- Lime Juice – Do. Not. Buy. Bottled. Lime. Juice. Ewwwwww. If your goal is to amp up your cocktail game, make this your mantra and tattoo it on your arm. There’s nothing like the intensity and flavor of freshly squeezed citrus.
- Micro Dianthus Flowers – This is an edible flower that’s easy to grow and offers incredible curb appeal in your garden and on your cocktails. If you don’t have any on hand, any eye-catching edible bloom will work.
Are you growing edible flowers in your garden this year?
Have you started your seeds yet?
Is there something you’re beyond excited about that you’re sowing?
I’m definitely ruminating on those questions. I purchased several new-to-my-garden edible flower seeds earlier this year, and I started them indoors just under a week ago. They are off to a great start, since I splurged on – er, invested in – a heat mat. Have you done this yet? Are you a convert? I’m ECSTATIC on the results so far! My seeds took weeks to germinate last year (if at all), but this year, some of them are popping up in under a week’s time. I’m a true believer.
More Cocktail Recipes with Edible Flowers
If you love enjoying cocktails made from or garnished with edible flowers, here are a few of my personal favorites, found on the blog:
- Amethyst Basil Gin Smash
- The Peach Blossom
- That Summer Buzz
- Rosé Rhubarb Gin Sour
- Petals + Blooms Beauty Punch
- Lilac 75 Cocktail
For reference, I took these photos of our garden in early August last year. Even though it was a banner gardening year, we are doubling our raised-beds up at our tasting room. Its focus is providing shaded areas for our guests and offering produce for our resident chefs to use in their pop-up events here at the tasting room. I know it sounds like a lot of extra work, but gardening and the multitude of tasks and emotions that it brings allow me to flourish.
I won’t ever stop, as the very thought of growing something from a tiny, brown seed into a source of radiant color, beauty, and nourishment ignites my senses and soul.
Also, as I mentioned in my last post, I have moved my blog to a self-hosted platform, so please sign up for my upcoming newsletter, so you won’t miss a post. I’m still navigating the migration, but since I have switched from WordPress.com, many of the blog followers who found me on that platform have sadly been lost. You can sign up for this monthly recap of recipes and highlights, via this link. I’m super excited to continue sharing new recipes with you here again. It’s an ongoing resolution of mine for 2023, so I hope you’re ready for it!
From the heart,