Category Archives: other spirits

negroni d’pampe | on that extra slice of cake, making room for beauty + the war on bunnies

I woke up this cloudy morning to the loveliest of sounds, a sound I hadn’t heard here in nearly two months. Slow, steady, peaceful rain, falling outside my open window. And the SMELL!! Isn’t it wonderful? That moisture-filled aroma of damp earth is both calming and invigorating all at once. I snoozed my alarm another 30 minutes and closed my eyes just to lull myself back asleep to this beautiful scene.

As someone who works the land, I view every moment of daylight as an opportunity to get work done. I can’t prune vines or thin shoots in the dark, so each moment of sunshine counts. Whenever I’m forced indoors, which is a rare event, I seize that moment of fortuity to either relax or sleep in or get caught up on postponed computer demands. Today, I chose to catch a few extra minutes of rest, lounge over breakfast on the front porch, and get after a blog post. Writing – and sleeping in – are two things I’ve missed this season.

No guilt on taking this one day to indulge just a little.

I know I’ve referenced a lot about self-care this year, and it’s a concept you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about in the media, as well. It’s something I’ve been working through and promising myself to integrate into my daily thoughts and routine. I find it so easy to just throw myself out of bed, slap on sunscreen, don my sunglasses, and get after the day’s chores, but that’s so unfulfilling. And it leaves me tired, feeling like a robot moving through the motions.

So, I’m slowing down, even when it’s hard. And I’m intentionally embracing beauty in the little things, like thrifted glassware {these cocktail glasses were $2 apiece at the Habitat for Humanity Restore!}, earlier mornings, and lazier Sundays. Another thing that I did this year, since we don’t have time for a serious garden, is sign up for a flower CSA. Each week, I already have to drive our recyclables to the recycling center, so I brightened up the chore by swinging by Zephyros Flower Farm and collecting a bouquet for the week. This past week’s assortment of blooms was a showstopper {isn’t that yellow and black lily INSANE!?}, and I knew I had to match it with a cocktail.

I’ve also tried being more conscious to get up earlier in the mornings, so that I can take time to stretch or write or read. Or make that second round of French press and just breathe before the day’s pulse starts to dictate my steps. It’s my moment of quiet, where I can call the shots and start my day with peace and intention. Are you the same way?

As the clouds gathered in the late afternoon yesterday, I gave our potted plants on the porch a little water and then gathered the essentials for a riff on one of my favorite classic cocktails, a summer-influenced Negroni — citrusy gin, gentian-forward Suze, and a favorite, new indulgence of mine, Vin d’Pampe Vermouth Rosé. It’s a brightened up, punchy-hued, citrus-floral version of the bitter, rich classic.

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the grassed word | diy celery cordial + lemongrass-infused gin

If you follow a few cocktail-centric Instagram accounts, you’ve most likely seen several riffs on the classic cocktail, The Last Word, popping up in your feed this week. That’s because Mike Yoshioka, a cocktail enthusiast based in Los Angeles, CA created a global online event that celebrates the beloved cocktail.

The event, aptly named We Have the Last Word, encourages Instagrammers to replicate the original recipe or create an iteration on the classic. It is an event that inspires you to dig deep into your creativity. It truly and deliciously brings cocktail enthusiasts and creators together. The Last Word is one of my favorite cocktails both to make and enjoy, especially over the summer months, so I knew I had to come up with something fun as a contribution.


“What was truly inspiring was how the cocktail community came together. New relationships were formed. People started to bond. They began to inspire one another, sharing information, collaborating on projects, and supporting and encouraging one another. They showed that the world is indeed much smaller when we can come together and unite. Even if it is just over a cocktail.”

— Mike Yoshioka of mmydrinks, via a recent post in Difford’s Guide


The original specs on the cocktail call for equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice. It’s light, refreshing, and a perfectly balanced amalgam of sweet, herbaceous, and acidic notes. I decided to do something creatively challenging for my contribution to this event that celebrates one of my favorite liqueurs, Chartreuse, and bring in some early summer flavors to the mix — celery, lemongrass, and cucumber.

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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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apple cider buck spritz | scenes from the grape harvest

Seasonal fruits yield seasonal cocktails, of course, but I don’t see why the season has to dictate cocktail styles so much. I’m still enjoying white wine with dinner, crisp rosés that I happen to score, and frozen cocktails and sorbets, filled with pears or apples. Things you’d mostly associate with warmer weather. I gave one of my favorite summer staples, the spritz, a fall twist. It’s versatile enough to enjoy on its own or in a punch bowl with a fruit-studded ice mold.

Herbal, spicy, bitter notes balanced with a finish of crisp and dry, bubbly apple cider.

How could anyone say no to this?

I know it’s been a few months, but I do have an excuse for my absence in the form of a beautiful story I’d love to share with you: our very first grape harvest. The bird netting is almost put away, the temperatures have dropped, the days are growing shorter, and fall projects have commenced here on the vineyard. Mirroring nature’s slower, autumnal dance, we’ve all lessened our pace, thankfully, and taken our first, albeit abbreviated, breaths of relief.

Most importantly, the last of the grapes have been picked, sold, and sent away. We made sure to save a few hundred pounds, however, so that we could give a go at making our own wine this inaugural harvest season. It’s been quite the learning curve, and no matter how many times you’ve interned or volunteered at a winery, it’s a completely different experience when the grapes and resulting wine are your own.

There are some days, in the middle of summer’s hectic, frenetic season and even now, that we just don’t leave the property. It can be a good or bad thing. Solitude is refreshing and rejuvenating for me, as an extroverted introvert, but it can also be downright isolating. Our team of four regularly escapes to our favorite watering hole, the tasting room at Big B’s Delicious Orchards, just a couple of miles down the road. The farm store and café both boast fare organically grown and raised on their property. There’s even a u-pick garden and a space to camp with a spectacular view of Mount Lamborn in the near distance.

Their ciders are some of the best I’ve ever tried. Head cider-maker, Shawn Larson, orchestrates a perfect balance with his various ciders: sweet and savory, crisp and visceral, fruity and just-enough bitter. My favorite has always been his Orchard Original, a dry, almost sparkling wine-like hard cider. The other one to try right now is his limited edition Ciaison Grand Cru Hard Cider, crafted with Winesap apples from here in the West Elks, tart orange peel, and coriander seeds, fermented in French oak Chardonnay barrels.

It would actually go perfectly here in this cocktail, too. Continue reading

palisade peach, basil + tarragon spritzes | rituals

I don’t get up at a regular time in the mornings, even though I know it’s good for me. My restaurant-dictated schedule is consistently up-and-down, so when faced with either getting up at a predictable hour or sleeping in to get my full eight hours, I’ll take the eight hours, please.

Right now, I’m typing on my laptop, sitting outside in the backyard with Steve, my cats, a bowl of sliced peaches, and my coffee. An entire French press’ worth, in fact. I only have a couple of hours until I drive to work, and I’m soaking in the peace. After tonight, we’ll only have three more Friday nights left {out of nine} in our summer concert series at the restaurant.

I’m dancing inside.

palisade peach + tarragon spritzes | rituals | holly & flora

palisade peach + tarragon spritzes | rituals | holly & floraI always joke that I’ll document an entire Friday night there from beginning to end on Snapchat, but I end up getting too busy. Plus, it’s just too, plain raw. And I would probably get into trouble. I still might do it, though. It would definitely be entertaining, nonetheless! Except for the part, where they find me cowering over in the corner of the wine cellar, rocking back and forth.

These nights are such a strain on everyone – the wait staff, the chefs, the valets, the hosts, even the guests. We’re cranking out 600 entrées in the same kitchen that normally serves 300, and everyone expects the same fine dining experience. I’ve mentioned it before, but we expand the patio, doubling its size, and nearly all of South Denver comes out to dance. It starts out calm, classy, and fun, but around 7:00, all kinds of crazy starts to happen.
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