Tag Archives: classic cocktails

the classic dirty martini | simple ingredients, minimal effort, complex results

I really wish life worked out more like the title of this blog post: simple ingredients, minimal effort, with complex results. Rarely does it ever turn out just like that, right? Lately, it’s been more like this: empty cupboards, requiring multiple hours to source the necessary ingredients with beyond maximum effort. Super-human effort. Effort that’s squeezed from the last remaining drop of life in my blood, with lots of carnage, unmet needs, unfulfilled requests, forgotten emails, and a few starved relationships left in the wake. And multiple martinis along the way. Let’s not forget those.

It’s not been a pretty scene.

There is, however, a warm, bright, beckoning light at the end of the tunnel. I cannot wait to share more about all of the exciting changes with you very soon. As soon as I get a little more sleep, tie up some flailing loose ends, and … finish packing up my life here in Denver. There’s a big move on the horizon. One that I’m not quite ready for, but I have wished to embark upon for a long time.


If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.

— Nora Roberts


There are copious examples of drinks out there that require contemplation and examination. The barrel-aged Negronis, the port barrel-seasoned stouts, the bourbon barrel-aged Cabernet Sauvignons, the late-harvest and slow-fermented orange wines. You know the like.

I’ve been craving and consuming more simple and straight-forward sips. Perhaps it’s a reflection of how I wish I were feeling: more centered, simple, and clean. Yes, I do take showers on the regular. That’s not what I mean by “clean.” I’ve been enjoying a classic, easy-to-drink Pilsner or a clean, crisp Champagne or an ounce or two of my favorite bourbon on the rocks. A drink that lets me wander toward my own thoughts, without having to dissect its complexities.

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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.

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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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frozen pineapple, banana + coconut daiquiris | drinks from my dad’s cocktail garden

“Daddy, do it.”

Over the first several years of my life, that phrase effortlessly and confidently spilled out of my mouth. My dad was there when things needed to be fixed, when I got hurt, when I fell off my scooter, or when the ship was overturning, quite literally, in fact. When you’re little and you have a limited scope on how large and volatile the world actually is, you count on those who show up consistently in your life’s realm.

I counted on my dad.

As a family, we’d sail together, oftentimes in the Gulf of Mexico, in the midst of summer storms, in the face of bracing winds and powerful lightning. Just me, my sister, my step-mom, and my dad at the helm. I’d run down below and hide under my tangled arms, beside my sister, pressing my face to the slate-blue-striped pillows. We’d pray for our lives, at times, whilst trusting that our dad knew what he was doing: sailing the rough seas, braving the swells, navigating the sea floor.

Looking back, I think he was completely insane.

I put a lot of trust in him. Daddy. Please, do it. Please, don’t kill us. I am laughing as I type this, but we grew up as a sailing family, participating in races together, come storm or shine. We’d even take our parrots with us on certain sailing trips. I truly felt like I was living out a pirate’s life, up until there was a swell that knocked us over or a gust that threw us about. My sister fell overboard once. Thankfully, she wore a life jacket. We’re able to laugh about the incident now.

frozen pineapple + coconut daiquiris | my dad's cocktail garden | holly & flora frozen pineapple + coconut daiquiris | my dad's cocktail garden | holly & flora frozen pineapple + coconut daiquiris | my dad's cocktail garden | holly & flora

frozen pineapple + coconut daiquiris | my dad's cocktail garden | holly & flora

Life is bereft with bumps and delays and potholes. Those “vibrations” are inevitable. I believe that it’s where we pick up on those rhythms and beats that we find the algorithm, which enables us to achieve the most enriching opportunities for growth, providing us the most captivating stories.

I’ve always mentioned that the very foods we enjoy and the drinks we sip truly have healing benefits — not only within the nutrients they possess or their hydrating qualities or even their fiber content, but also within their ability to facilitate comfort, sympathy, or joy. For me, even the act of preparing a dish or crafting a cocktail allows me to be present and process the thoughts sifting through my mind.

Meditation.

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summertime vespers with strawberry, rhubarb + fennel | loud flavors, loud voices


Because it’s summer. Because the air is heavy with heat and nostalgia.
Because this is what we have to keep remembering, the way our bodies
know the waves, the amphibian inside us unafraid of going under,
of what ripples beneath the surface. Because waiting on the dock
for the signal to jump is like thinking someone else is responsible. Because
there is no one else responsible. Because despite the current,
it is possible to swim against it, or even stand, inverted, balancing
on a slippery mulch of murk and mud, and stay perfectly still.
Because when the world tips from view, we have to do everything we can
to tip it back.

— Maya Stein, “The Amphibian Inside Us”


This poem founds its way to my inbox this week. I subscribe to a series, “10-Line Tuesdays“, curated by poet, Maya Stein. Her weekly words always stir something deep within my sub-consciousness, evoking undulating layers of emotions. This week’s beautiful lines struck a chord and prompted me to share my thoughts on the current events that have been filling our feeds, provoking our thoughts, and, for some, motivating us to stand up, speak out, and ask questions.

I don’t have live television here at the house, so I learned about the recent shootings last week and the ensuing reactions, via Twitter. As I scrolled through videos, comments, and photos, tears fell. I stopped my current task of chopping strawberries, prep-work for this very blog post. Everything I was doing that moment seemed trite and forced.

I was speechless. Speechless to the point of lying low on social media for nearly five days. Speechless to the point of taking a four-hour road trip out to the western slope of Colorado, with no radio, no cell reception, no television, no discussion.

Just silence.

summer vespers with strawberry, rhubarb & fennel | holly & florasummer vespers with strawberry, rhubarb & fennel | holly & flora summer vespers with strawberry, rhubarb & fennel | holly & flora

Sometimes, silence is just what we need to contemplate, to sift through our emotions and thoughts and rage. Despite its important role, silence cannot perpetuate change. It’s ultimately ineffective in the long-run, a dead-end street. Once I got back home on Tuesday, I spent the afternoon at a coffee shop, catching up on some reading and emails. Somehow, it’s so much less distracting there. I read through bravely written essays, comments online, and posts from some of my fellow bloggers, who used their platform of influence to speak up. To Em, Lily, and the many others who have opened their hearts this past week, thank you for leading the discussion.

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