Tag Archives: gin

spicy cucamelon cocktails | why culinary treats are the best travel souvenirs

First of all, happy almost-end-of-summer!! I’m excited to share the story behind this spicy cucamelon cocktail that I created after returning from a trip to NYC, where I toured and savored its verdant famers markets. I’m definitely reveling in these final days of summer and doing my best to capture their vibrancy by making jams, jellies, relishes, chutneys, and, of course, cocktails.

This particular trip to New York City in the fall of 2019 just might be my favorite culinary trip I’ve taken. Yes, I’ve had some incredible food-and-wine-centric trips throughout my wine career. Traveling to historic places like Burgundy, France; visiting the Vinho Verde region in Portugal; exploring the Piemonte, home to Barolo and Barbaresco, in Italy; and touring the vineyards in Ribero del Duero y Rueda in Spain were all career and personal highlights for me.

None of these trips, however, compared to traveling to New York City two years ago with several of my favorite chef and sommelier friends within the culinary industry. There is nothing like rolling out of bed (maybe a little hungover?) and exploring the city’s various farmers markets to source produce, flowers, or meat that will be served at a dinner later that evening, with the very chefs, who will be cooking the dishes.

In 2019, my husband and I were chosen, along with our industry friend and colleague, Jen Mattioni, to be the beverage component of the Colorado FIVE, a group of five talented chefs, who are changing the face and direction of the Colorado culinary scene. I’ve shared one of the epic dinners we’ve thrown in another post, to reference the kind of scale and pomp these dinners have. Throughout the summer season, each of the five chefs within the Colorado FIVE team hosts a five-course dinner at his or her respective restaurant, we pair the drinks, and we all raise money for charity.

The year culminates at a dinner that we host at the James Beard House in New York City.

Yes, that James Beard.

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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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snap pea-infused gin cocktails with basil, cucumber + mint | making adjustments + slowing down

I stood outside in my garden, atop the raised kale and Swiss chard bed, and pressed my cracked phone up to my face, eagerly asking, “Are you outside yet? Is it cloud-covered there? Can you see it, too?” It was just after 8:00PM last Friday night, and my mother and I were standing outside in our respective time zones, which differed by two hours, watching the full, Harvest Moon rise.

“My” moon was full and golden, bloated and sated with possibility, swelling with pride, as it slowly emerged from the east, over the neighboring trees. Back home in Florida, “hers” stood prominently overhead, appearing a little smaller due to its rise, less distorted by the horizon, yet regally shining its sun-reflected light on her driveway, awash on her face.

We marveled at the fact that both of us were observing the very same event, at the very same time, each witnessing differing perspectives. It made the world feel just a little smaller. We stood in silence for a moment and then said our slow goodbyes. I ended the call and sat down on the cedar beams of the raised garden. At first, all was quiet and rather hazy, but as I settled in, the stars came out of hiding, the early evening bats frenetically fluttered above, and the crickets restarted their unified song.

The evening was alive, and, at long last, so was my mind.

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honeydew, shiso + kiwi sake cocktails | low abv is a good thing

Low ABV cocktails. They’re definitely a thing. I’ve even spotted drink lists with entire sections dedicated to highlighting these lower-in-alcohol tipples. My former college self would most likely have scoffed at ordering a cocktail intentionally made with less alcohol, but at this point in my life, I’m more into sessionable, summer sippers – cocktails that don’t knock you on your face after just one.

This is where I’ve loved mixing either wine or vermouth or sake in my cocktails. Each of those components brings unique flavors and textures to a drink, and they are relatively low in alcohol, by volume. This particular cocktail tastes more like a tropical juice drink than a boozy cocktail. There’s just enough gin to add some complexity and a slight kick, but there’s plenty of muddled kiwi and honeydew to keep you hydrated.

Because summer.honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora

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lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique

I just walked inside from a short, sun-dappled walk through the garden. This week, the temperatures have spiked upwards into the mid-nineties. All of a sudden, I’m craving more salads, donning shorts, and seeking shade. Our late-spring lilacs, tulips, and alliums have been replaced with sprawling lemon balm, bright nasturtiums, and flowering salvia. I absolutely love this ebb and flow of the seasonal changes. We’ve also packed every possible place within our yard with tomatoes, herbs, squashes, and eggplants.

It’s finally feeling like summer.

Even though the fragrant, yet fleeting, blossoms of lilacs have most likely faded everywhere by now, you’ll have to pin this particular recipe for lilac syrup to make next year. I recently created a Lilac 75, featuring this purple-hued, lilac syrup, for Eat Boutique, a story-driven recipe site, beautifully dedicated to all-things food-gifting. I met Eat Boutique’s founder, Maggie Battista last October, when I attended The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon. We immediately hit it off and made a day of hitting the city’s hot spots, along with our lovely, mutual friend, Bobbie.

If you’ll recall, I made a version of one of Maggie’s food gift recipes from her cookbook, Food Gift Love, back in December. I adapted her recipe for homemade grenadine and made a celebratory Clover Club cocktail here on the blog. I’m super excited and honored to be sharing even more garden-inspired cocktail recipes over on Eat Boutique in the near future! I’ll definitely keep you posted.

lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique

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