Author Archives: Jayme Henderson

About Jayme Henderson

Occupationally speaking, I am a sommelier and mixologist at a busy, upscale Denver restaurant. I am lucky enough to spend most days tasting, pairing, and creating, alongside my cherished guests. I am also a contributor at the Kitchn, where I write about wine and gardening, tour cooks' kitchens, and interview innovative growers and makers. When I am not wearing those shoes, you can find me in my garden, preserving, painting, designing, and documenting my experiences along the way. I'm currently learning calligraphy and trying my best at home brewing. And I am seriously obsessed with my cats. And rosé.

beet, berry + blood orange granita | a sparkling galentine’s day cocktail

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and that might make you either cringe or just shrug your shoulders or maybe even break out your dancing shoes. I tend to simply shrug my shoulders; the holiday could pass on by, and I’d still be happy. Meh. If some flowers or a card or some cookies come my way, however, I think could be persuaded to celebrate Valentine’s Day and even don a little pink.

I recently developed a Galentine’s Day cocktail for the Kitchn {I’ll share the link, when it’s up}, and in the midst of doing my recipe testing and researching, I really gained an appreciation for the concept behind the celebration. I’d heard about the holiday before, which is 180 degrees away from its cupid-themed counterpart {no pressure or hefty price tags, more waffles and dancing}, and I’ve even used the salutation casually in a sentence, but that’s where it stopped. I didn’t really participate.

The holiday, which is officially celebrated on February 13th, is all about showing your love, support, and enthusiasm for the WOMEN in your life. It’s not a time to bash your ex or gossip about the girl who sits next to you at work. It’s a day dedicated to making time for your girlfriends, your lady coworkers, your moms, and your sisters. It actually succeeds in making you feel and share what the other holiday, oftentimes unsuccessfully, attempts to make you feel:

LOVE.

And a solid Galentine’s Day party isn’t complete without a festive cocktail.

I’m sharing a healthy-ish cocktail with you that’s easy to make ahead and doesn’t require a ton of expensive spirits. It’s low-key and high-reward. I’ve added roasted beets, ripe blood oranges, and sweet berries together for a slightly sweet granita that pairs perfectly with dry sparkling wine. I’ve even added one of my favorite spirits to bring a balanced-but-bitter bite to the mix: Campari. Continue reading

sparkling spiced blackberry negronis | adding flavor with fruits + infusions

Writing this post has gotten me excited about planning our new garden this spring. I’ve missed all of the fruits, vegetables, and herbs growing just outside my backdoor. Granted, we have some amazing farms out here on the western slope, so I haven’t gone without, but there’s nothing like tending and growing your own. Cocktail gardens included.

This past fall, we tilled up the yard around our house, and we ordered some no-mow, low-water grass seed to fill in the almost dust-bowl-like terrain we’ve got going on now. I’ve got a couple of “wish list” plants bookmarked over at High Country Gardens, and those, along with some seeds I’ve either saved or been gifted, are going to colorfully make their way into our lives in a few months. I can’t wait!

Let’s talk about naturally adding flavor in cocktails for a moment.

Did you make any resolutions to eat healthier or drink less? Or maybe your goal is to make healthier versions of your favorite cocktails? This line of thought is on the radar of many home bartenders {myself included} and mixologists around the country. In fact, the appearance of healthier cocktails is one of the projected trends for 2018, according to publications like Supercall and Industry Juice. I’m definitely excited to make and drink more juice- or kombucha-based cocktails and see more low-ABV or alcohol-free drinks available whenever I go out.

I’ve always been a proponent for cocktails flavored with fresh fruits and vegetables, infusions, and less sugar — or even none at all. Drinks simply taste better, when they’re made with fresh ingredients. Think about those florescent-hued, cloyingly sweet drinks you’ve had before. They might be pretty, but their headache is never worth any temporary “enjoyment.”

Two of my personal favorite ways to add flavor to cocktails without adding extra, unwanted sugar is by using fresh fruits and vegetables and by making infusions. I’ve also been enjoying adding Zevia’s stevia-based mixers to my drinks, like the Ginger Apple Swizzle from a few posts back. This sparkling spiced blackberry Negroni gets its flavor from fresh blackberries and Zevia blackberry sparkling water. I’m happy to share another cocktail that’s on the lighter but more flavorful side with you.

Any way I can add flavor without the calories or unwanted chemical substitutes, I’m in.

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winter persimmon margaritas | making self-care a priority

How much healthier could I be in six months, if I made self-care a priority today?

That’s the question that’s been on my mind the past several days, but before diving into that topic, I wish you all a happy 2018! I seriously can’t believe that we’re already two weeks into the new year. Our Christmas tree is still up, and we are still nightly turning on the outdoor lights that span our rooftop and front porch. We technically haven’t even had our traditional holiday dinner, so we’re keeping it festive until we do. Hopefully, we’ll enjoy that before April.

How was your NYE celebration? Did you pop something fun? What intentions and goals do you have? I’m still fleshing out my ideas and strategies for 2018. I’m never actually “on time” for traditional resolution-making, but it is one of my favorite things to do. List-making and planners and all.

If I were to ask my mom what one of my biggest personal challenges has been, she wouldn’t even hesitate: prioritizing. I tend to fervently say yes to an interesting project or agree to meet someone else’s needs without fully filtering the pros and cons. I want to please. Others. I over-commit, and even though I might deliver, I pay a harsh cost. My physical health suffers, my relationships wilt, and my sanity takes an unfortunate and uncomfortable ride in the backseat.

When I was little, my mom would drive me and my sister down to Arcadia, Florida to visit our grandparents over Christmas. It was an hour-and-a-half ride through twelve small towns. I still have their order memorized. Before we’d pile in our brown Corolla, my mom, adjusting her glasses, would raise her eyebrows, give us the stern eye, and tilt her head, “Girls, go to the bathroom before we leave.” When I’d protest that I didn’t need to go, she’d insist and quickly respond, “Preventive maintenance!”

I think I hear her words anytime I’m gearing up for a long road trip. Preventive maintenance. She didn’t want to stop along the way and slow us down. When I didn’t adhere to her advice, I paid for it with childlike embarrassment, as there weren’t many bathroom stops along the country roads we took.

I’ve struggled to write this post for nearly three weeks now. Just before Christmas, I started experiencing severe stomach pain. It was so crippling that I stayed in bed for nearly three days straight. I googled every symptom I was experiencing and gave myself a pretty solid WebMD diagnosis of either an ulcer or a possible hernia or even, perhaps, gallstones.

I still have yet to see a specialist, but my symptoms have slightly lessened in severity, mostly due to some lifestyle changes. It was ones of the worst holiday seasons I’ve ever experienced, and I’d planned it out to be the most sparkly BEST. This was the first year that both Steve and I were no longer working in the service industry. We didn’t have to pop bottles for 700 people or clean up puke in a bathroom or wait until 3:00AM for the last guest to leave the restaurant to finally drag our beleaguered selves back home.

Despite the scenario I described above, this year’s experience was still worse than any of the holidays spent at the restaurant. And I can say that it was partially a result of not adhering to my mom’s simple advice. I hadn’t adequately prepared. I’d run myself into the ground. I’d pushed myself too far, and as soon as my body had the chance to relax, it decided to shut down and cry for mercy. And, go figure, I was actually mad at my own body for that cry, even though some unwanted and inconveniently timed rest was what I truly needed.

Continue reading

the ginger apple swizzle | a low-sugar, sherry cocktail

Crisp apples, roasted nuts, spicy ginger, herbaceous rosemary.

Those are some of my favorite flavors of the fall and winter seasons, and they all magically meld together just perfectly, somehow. I have definitely been on a kick with creating all-cocktails-apple lately, and this particular recipe incorporates all of these components in bubbly, festive fashion.

In an effort to cut back on my sugar intake, I’ve been playing around with low-sugar or sugar-free cocktails, focusing on the natural vibrancy of fruits and herbs. The catalyst for this quest occurred earlier this month when Steve and I baked and devoured a batch of oatmeal cookies in one sitting. I kept rationalizing that they were healthy-ish. That they could be dinner. One cookie led to 15 cookies.

Then there was the night that very same week that we baked and ate an entire pumpkin pie.

After dinner.

That was the tipping point.

That pumpkin pie was truly delicious, and I reveled in the decadence of eating the whole thing. Of course, Steve contributed his fair share of slices, too. I’m laughing about it now, but I also knew at that point that I had to slow it down with the sweets. When I craft cocktails, some kind of sweetening agent is almost inevitable, and I normally use a simple syrup to bring sweetness to the drink. Sweetness is necessary to bring balance to a cocktail, especially when there is a strong acidic or bitter note.

And a balanced drink is a good drink.

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persimmon gingersnap flips | a california state of mind

I guess you could say that I finally caught my breath. Just a breath. And it’s totally worth celebrating. It’s taken me nearly two months. Last Friday, I sneaked away for a couple of days and escaped to sunny Newport Beach with my friend, Kelly Pfeiffer. She was there to shoot some recipe videos. I was there to get out of my head and let my thoughts wander.

Kelly finished her shots, thanks to the talented hand of Haley Davis of Brewing Happiness. She truly works magic with the lens, and she’s just plain awesome to be around. We all laughed together at our antics between frames, we devoured every one of Kelly’s creations {a perk of on-site recipe shoots!}, and I took the opportunity to pair and share some wine with them.

The proverbial monkey is at least taking a break off of my back, and I feel somewhat recharged.

I brought a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, along with me. It’s an intimate glimpse into Elizabeth’s journey through creativity, and through anecdotal stories, Elizabeth shares her tips on lively creatively beyond fear. I’d read it before, but I knew it needed a revisit, since I’d felt so drained and lethargic with respect to anything creative. I seem to flip through its pages whenever I’m on a trip, especially a trip that I’ve declared as a catalyst for change.

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