Tag Archives: citrus

manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora

manhattan | a first-time visit, a classic cocktail + an eponymous book

It’s been nearly three weeks since our visit to New York City, and I can still hear the bustling sounds in my head. It was my very first visit, and it proved quite the adventure-filled, three-day escape. Steve and I had already made plans to see our friend Andy’s art show in Chelsea at the end of September, but the stars truly aligned when the dates for the Saveur Blog Awards ceremony were announced. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We immediately booked our tickets, plotted an easy departure from the restaurant’s responsibilities, and started researching places to stay and see and dine.

I had ideas of what New York would feel like, but experiencing it, firsthand, blew my mind. I’m still processing all that we packed in. Instead of staying at a swank hotel in the city, we opted for a cozy Airbnb in the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. I’ll share the details of our digs and dines in an upcoming post, along with all of the activities we enjoyed with the fellow blog award nominees and the Saveur team. For now, I’ll post a few captures from the first day we were there. A day filled with walking the streets of Brooklyn over to Manhattan, the best way to see the city, in my opinion.

And you know I can’t resist the chance to share with you a few riffs on the city’s most famous classic cocktail, the Manhattan. If you’re thirsty for a good story, read on. Heck, if you’re just plain thirsty, read on. I’ve got you covered here.

manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora

There’s nothing like experiencing the city on foot and by subway. Even after walking a couple of blocks from our neighborhood, we felt the pulse of city drawing us in. I quickly realized that there’s really not a leisurely pace; you have to jump into the groove and ride it. That, or get out of the way.

We started our exploration in the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. A few blocks into our walk, we scouted a couple of pizza joints and grabbed a few slices. I paired mine with a red Gatorade, because travel dehydration. What’s the actual flavor profile of “red drink”, let alone the actual ingredients? I didn’t want to think about it. The streets were hot, and the air was thick with humidity that rivaled that of my home state of Florida. I needed serious quenching.

Fueled by syrupy Gatorade and cheesy pizza, we braved the streets, eking out as much as we possibly could over the next few hours.

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blood orange, aperol + gin popsicles | holly & flora

blood orange + thyme popsicles with aperol + gin

Aside from shoveling about a foot’s worth of snow this morning, today is getting better by the minute. Over the years living here in Denver, I’ve learned to doubt the weather forecasters’ calls. They’ll predict rainfall, and we’ll get nary a drop; they’ll suggest a blizzard, and we’ll wake up to an inch of slush. Today was shockingly different. I was amazed when I cracked the blinds and spotted a beautiful, glistening, snow-covered wonderland.

The crabapple trees are buckling under the weight of the heavy, spring snow, the wind is howling, and the precipitation shows no sign of slowing. I think the entire city of Denver took nature’s cue and basically shut down. Even the reservation count at the restaurant dropped from an already low count of 130 to just above 50 covers overnight. Thankfully, a call was made to close for the evening.

I don’t think I’ve yelled that loud or jumped that high in a long time. Even though Steve and I work alongside each other, we rarely get actual days off together. Now we have two, consecutive days off with no plans but to cozy up, cue up extended editions of The Hobbit, and maybe catch up on some computer-related work.

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pear + chamomile bee's knees with honey syrup | holly & flora

pear + chamomile bee’s knees with cinnamon-honey syrup | with a vegan option

I’ve been meaning to share this floral, spring-inspired twist on the classic Bee’s Knees cocktail for several weeks now. Back in January, I made a batch of pear- and cinnamon-infused gin, and I forgot all about it, leaving it to hang out in my fridge before even straining it. I’ve been guilty of forgetting projects before. When I stumbled across my unlabeled jar the other day, I cracked the lid only to discover a hazy, unappetizing shade of brown and a way-too-concentrated flavor for the delicate, floral cocktail I had in mind.

So, I tossed that batch, moved on, and made another go of it. This time it was perfectly balanced in flavor and just the right shade of pale gold. I also labeled it and gave myself a pat on the back for doing so. My boyfriend {er, fiancรฉ – I’m still not used to saying it!} gets so bothered with me because I never remember to label my concoctions. I always figure I’ll remember what’s inside the jars, but unless it’s a giveaway shade of strawberry pink, I don’t. Instead, we spend time opening unlabeled jars, smelling them, dotting and nosing small portions on our fingers, or going all-in and boldly giving the unknown liquid a sip.

Why do I rebel so much at taking the time to label something properly? I mean, all it takes is a piece of masking tape and a Sharpie. This time around, I won’t have to guess what’s in this particular jar, but I don’t think that this infusion will even make it that long. I’ve been mixing it with tonic or simply adding an ounce or so to a glass of bubbly.

So good.

pear + chamomile bee's knees with honey syrup | holly & flora

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rosemary palomas with grapefruit salt rims | holly & flora

rosemary paloma cocktails with grapefruit sea salt rims | a cookbook + rosรฉ winner

The past few weeks have been a series of highs and lows. I must be in dire need of a lesson in “going with the flow” because that’s precisely what I haven’t been doing! I’ll start with the most exciting of news: Steve and I are getting married! Our conversation kind of went like this: “I’m asking you to marry me because you’re my favorite!” “And I’m saying yes because you’re MY favorite!” I think that being together ten years let’s me know I’m ready for that step. I knew he had something in the works for a while, but I really did not expect it to happen last week over our quick getaway to Arizona.

We’d both been extra busy the few days leading up to our departure, so I truly didn’t see it coming. As I was sitting on the plane, I saw a text from one of my dear friends. It was simply five ring emojis, followed by the monkey emoji with its eyes covered. I laughed so hard and told her that I doubted it would happen. The only things both Steve and I wanted to do was forget about the mess we left in our house, sleep all day, maybe sit by a pool, and not see anyone we knew for a solid three days.

Some of those wishes came true, but sleep wasn’t one of them. Leading up to the trip, we had both shared a few, consecutive, ten-hour shifts at the restaurant, leaving our minds harried and our eyes laden with dark circles. I had been recipe-testing blender cocktails all week for an upcoming series at the Kitchn, and the sound of the Vitamix motor was ringing in my ear. Needless to say, I left the kitchen in a state of stickiness, along with a stack of cocktail-covered glassware.

We hit the airport last Sunday without getting any sleep the night before. What an excellent way to start a proposal weekend, right!??

rosemary palomas with grapefruit salt rims | holly & flora rosemary palomas with grapefruit salt rims | holly & flora

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blood orange wine cocktails with campari + thyme | holly & flora

blood orange white wine cocktails with campari + thyme

There is nothing like the vibrant color, sweet burst of flavor, and juicy texture that an orange can deliver in the middle of winter, especially on those cold, grey days like the one we had here in Denver yesterday. I only made it outside once yesterday and just for a moment. I fully understand the necessity of this darker season as a time for inner growth and renewal within nature. Even though my backyard garden looks dead, brown, and crusty right now, there is actually life flowing within the roots of those perennial plants underneath the snow. They’re anticipating spring’s arrival, and they’re getting ready for it.

Steve and I have already started planning what we’re going to plant in the garden this spring. I’ve even ordered some seeds to start indoors in a few weeks. And I can’t wait for that first crocus to pop through the leaves, followed closely by the daffodils and tulips. We have been faithfully watering the spots where we planted tulip bulbs this past fall, along the circular walkway we recently built in the front yard. In our minds, spring has already sprung. Simply imagining the new growth puts a smile on our faces and a lilt in our steps.

I recently read that with respect to taking vacations, the act of anticipating the getaway is just as exciting as actually going on the vacation. The happiness factor is equal. One thing that Steve and I are trying to do more frequently is plan little getaways. Having something fun to look forward to is bringing the two of us closer as a couple and keeping us motivated through the tough or dull times.

blood orange wine cocktails with campari + thyme | holly & flora blood orange wine cocktails with campari + thyme | holly & flora

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