Tag Archives: gin

tart cranberry gin sparklers | fiercely ringing in the new year

Happy New Year’s Evel!!

Can you even believe the year is almost over? As I type, I’m feeling like a well-worn mix tape comprised of half a French press of coffee, two glasses of Lucien Albrecht brut rosé, several glasses of water, two plays of BØRNS’ Dopamine, thoughts of a hot shower, and a slight dread of this evening’s activities. This past year has been a great one, albeit one of highs and lows, interspersed with periods of mayhem and moments of peace. In one breath, I say I’d have it no other way, and in the very next, I dream of a deprivation tank.

C’est la vie!

I’m not quite ready just yet to craft an introspective tirade or a hopeful, inspired declaration for 2016. That will most likely happen this weekend. For now, I still have a writing assignment to finish, a suit to press, and four hours of sleep to catch before the craziest shift of the year. We have nearly 700 reservations on the books, and the last thing I want to do is pop bottles for a roomful of tipsy people. From the way I’m talking, it sounds like I am bereft of life and energy, but, in fact, I’m bursting from the seams and ready to tackle the next project. I just need a few days to reset, to recharge, to freaking sleep.

And then, it’s GO!!

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a honeycrisp, pimm’s + old tom gin cocktail | making cozy a priority

It still feels like it should be mid-November to me. In my mind, Thanksgiving happened just a week ago, and I have this false notion that I still have a few more weeks left until Christmas. Just this evening, I counted out the remaining days on one hand, and it hit me that the holiday is less than a week away. We still haven’t put up a tree or made a wreath for our front door, two traditions we thoroughly enjoy doing, and I still have yet to wrap and mail my family’s gifts. They’ll simply have to arrive late this year. And we’ll have to roll without a tree.

I think the bustle has really gotten to me. I had two missions at the store last night: grab a bag of ice and pick up some candied ginger. An easy task. I found the ginger and asked for a bag of ice to be added to my order. Done. I paid for both, neglected to go and pick up the bag of ice, and walked directly to my car. This is the same brain that forgot about a pan of cookies I was baking about a week ago, and when the timer sounded, I simply turned it off and entirely forgot why I set the timer in the first place. Those cookies were black hockey pucks, when I remembered them about 45 minutes later.

Perhaps I’m losing it, but most likely I’m just cultivating a case mindlessness, an unhealthy dose of multitasking, which is the exact opposite of being present, intentional, and mindful. I’m ready for some kind of intervention.

apple + old tom gin cocktails | holly & floraapple + old tom gin cocktails | holly & flora

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the clover club cocktail | how to make sugared cranberries + your own grenadine

Have you ever juiced a pomegranate? I hadn’t until about a week ago. I’ll come across some unique, detailed technique from time to time and think, “Now, I’ve got to try that.” I might not even have an end result in mind, but I’ll feel an overwhelming need to learn some obscure and interesting skill that might prove completely unnecessary. I had already purchased a couple of pomegranates, and they were sitting on my kitchen counter, almost staring back at me, probing me with a challenging smirk, as if to say, “I dare you to do something with us.”

The thing is, I hadn’t even purchased a pomegranate until a week ago, let alone seed one. Even the thought of seeding the strange fruit kept me procrastinating the task. I finally gave in. After watching a few videos and reading a couple of how-tos, I accepted the challenge. I’ll admit that purchasing pomegranate juice is a convenient treat, but the bright, potent flavors I got from juicing my own won me over. In this case, learning a particular new skill was totally worth the effort.

After my triumphant, juicing feat, I reckoned that I should do something with all that juice. Sure, I could drink it all up, but I wanted to make something delicious with the pretty, magenta-hued liquid. So, I made those pomegranates proud and whipped up some homemade grenadine and added a little to one of my favorite classic cocktails, the Clover Club.

You’ll pat yourself on the back for this one. 😉

DSC_1943the clover club cocktail | how to make your own grenadine | holly & flora #cocktails #drinks

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fall hot toddies | with leopold bros. + dram apothecary

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! I know I’m a little late with the well wishes, but the love is here, nonetheless. I wanted to unplug for the holiday, which was just the right call. I trust you enjoyed your time with family or friends {or even treasured time alone}. Steve and I had originally planned to just cozy up, watch old Christmas specials, and fix a feast for the two of us. Snow was in the forecast, so we didn’t have the desire to venture out. Work’s been rather stressful as of late, so we really didn’t want to do much socializing.

A cheery, last-minute invitation from two of our most cherished friends changed our minds. We chose an armful of our favorite wines, bundled up for the brisk, 20-degree weather, hastily threw an apple pie together, and made the hour-long journey to the town of Larkspur, a sparsely populated town that spans rolling hills and boasts the most spectacular views of Pike’s Peak and the Front Range. We got to meet some peacocks, hang out with about 30 or so new-to-us friends, frolic with some hens and turkeys, and talk beekeeping with a rancher.

More on this crazy visit in another post.

Even though that pie was the worst pie I’ve made in my life so far, the time spent with old and new friends on a ranch out on the foothills, on the snowiest day of the year, was one of the most memorable. I am, however, baking another pie tomorrow morning to prove I’m still capable of nailing a flaky crust. Because redemption.


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pimm’s cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub

You know those blogs that actually inspire you? To do more, to attempt more, to think outside your norm? I can’t say when exactly I started following Sherrie Castellano‘s colorful, plant-based blog, With Food & Love, but I can definitely say that I was immediately smitten. Sherrie is a certified health coach, focusing on a plant-based diet, and has the most engaging and vibrant IG account. Sherrie, along with Renée Byrd of Will Frolic for Food, put together the most superb summer cocktail round-up, #DRINKTHESUMMER, highlighting summer’s in-season flavors with innovative twists.

I’m super stoked to be a part of this drink-driven mayhem and talk about how Pimm’s happily takes up so much of my summer. Let’s raise a glass, soak it all in, and drink the summer.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

I’m leading this post with some serious gratitude. As I sit down to type this post, my fingers feel heavy, and my back aches from a long shift. I take a deep sigh, and all that immediately comes to mind are the stressful matters: the to-dos, the deadlines, the hectic scenes throughout my workday, or that impatient guest who yelled at me, demanding a last-minute table. I find myself so tempted to quickly write out the negative and expound upon the pressing matters. I curl my fingers into a fist. Sometimes, you just need a release, you know?

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

Instead, I pour myself a glass of rosé and lightly pet my tabby cat, who gracefully jumps onto my mouse pad.

Tonight, after a particularly stressful evening, I am resisting the urge for a negative slant and writing about the flip-side. There is always something beautiful happening, something exciting to report, something that brings a smile. I think that everyone  who has worked, in some capacity, within the restaurant or hospitality business can relate to the heaviness that frequently ensues. Whatever your role, you’re always in character, making people happy and giving them the best dose of hospitality that you can, even when you feel like crap.

I seriously perform my best, however, when my “reservoir” is full. When I take the time to breathe, spend time with my loved ones, get my fingers into the garden soil, or squeeze in a soak in the tub, I am a better person to everyone around me. Steve and I took a day off together this past week to recharge, let go of our obligations, and celebrate the wedding of two of our dearest friends, Erin and John.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

Earlier this evening, despite the madness of a 45-minute wait, an unexpected rainstorm that drove guests indoors, and an oversold reservation book, I pulled strength and peace from that reservoir within, which I had filled earlier during the week.

Erin and John said their wedding vows at the beautiful Lyons Farmette, along the Front Range, here in Colorado. The sun shone through puffy, white clouds, and the chickens and goats were roaming free, singing along with the chorus the one-acre farm had already begun. I felt so at home with their small group of loved ones. We played corn-hole, attempted life-sized Jenga, strolled through a verdant garden, sat by a mountain stream, and built a late-afternoon bonfire.

Love was in the air; it always is. Life is good. It’s what you make it out to be. There are good times, so-so times, and terrible times that you’d like to forget. I’m choosing to focus on the positive and let those accompanying feelings dictate my thought-life. Tomorrow is my day off, and I’m setting aside time too see a good friend {that’s you, Batya!} and taking advantage of the life within my garden. Cucumbers are abundant, mint is going crazy, and I have a full bottle of Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur beckoning me. I know what to do.

Now, ’bout that cocktail.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

If you’re new to Pimm’s No. 1, it’s a gin-based liqueur with notes of spices and citrus. It’s great on the rocks with lemonade or ginger ale, but it’s stellar with berries, cucumbers and citrus slices. You really can’t mess up a Pimm’s cocktail. Let me know if you have, and I’ll fix this post and warn the others what not to do. 😉

I’d heard about Pimm’s, but I’d never tried a Pimm’s cocktail, until I visited Scotland a few years ago. A new friend ordered me a “Pimm’s Cup” at a small, stonewalled pub, and I figured I’d give it a try. It was pretty much summer-in-a-glass. The traditional version calls for a simple combination of Pimm’s and lemonade, along with some mint, orange slices, strawberries, and cucumbers. For my version, I perpetuated the tart citrus-y component but added the depth of summer blackberries and the bright notes from mint and fresh strawberries. Pimm’s even makes a limited edition Blackberry & Elderflower version, so they’re already onto this flavor combination.

If I’ve tempted you already, I’m going to hit you with the bad news: you’ll have to wait a week to enjoy this cocktail. But it will be completely worth your time. One of the best parts of this cocktail is the tart and refreshing addition of a shrub or drinking vinegar. Read this post I wrote about shrubs earlier this year, if you’re thirsty for more information on its origins and its overall likeability.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

pimm’s cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub

  • 1 1/2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur
  • 1 ounce blackberry + lemon zest shrub {see recipe below}
  • 1/2 ounce Solerno blood orange liqueur
  • 3-4 ounces ginger ale, to taste {I used Q Ginger}
  • 2 strawberries, quartered
  • 2 cucumber slices, plus additional slices or spears for garnish
  • 6 mint leaves, plus one mint sprig for garnish
  • 2-3 lemon wheels
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  1. Fill a tall, Pilsner-style glass with ice. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing tin, muddle the cucumber slices and mint leaves well.
  3. Add ice, Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, blackberry + lemon zest shrub, and Solerno blood orange liqueur.
  4. Shake vigorously for a solid ten seconds and strain into the iced glass.
  5. Garnish with the quartered strawberries, cucumber slices or spears, mint sprig, lemon wheels, and tarragon sprig.
  6. Finish with 3-4 ounces of a zesty ginger ale.
  • This recipe yields one cocktail.
  • If you don’t have a Pilsner-style glass, just use a taller glass, so you have enough room for the ginger ale and the multiple garnishes. I recently broke my last set of Pilsner glasses, so I used a stemless wine glass in a pinch. Hey, it tastes the same, right?
  • Look for a zesty ginger ale that packs a spicy bite. I really like Q’s ginger ale for this reason. Avoid an overly sugary style.

IMG_8493 pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

I made my blackberry shrub about a week ago, so it was ready to drink today. Shrubs are basically a tart, refreshing, vinegar-based combination of fruit {or vegetables} and sugar. I keep some sort of shrub in my refrigerator at all times. They’re the perfect addition to soda water, and they add both tart and sweet components to cocktails in one sweep. This particular recipe is ace, if it’s your first attempt.

blackberry + lemon zest shrub

  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, muddle the blackberries, along with the lemon zest and cane sugar, being sure to crush the blackberries and express as much of the juice as you can.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 24 hours, stirring the mixture, when you think about it.
  3. Pour the mixture through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, pressing the berries to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  4. Add the apple cider vinegar to the blackberry mixture, whisking until any undissolved sugar is incorporated.
  5. Pour the vinegar mixture into a clean mason jar, cover with a lid, and store it in the refrigerator for a week, so that the flavors integrate. If you think about it, shake the mixture occasionally.
  • Compost the blackberry solids or use them as a topping for a small tart or a delicious addition to yogurt and granola.
  • You may substitute lime zest, if you don’t have lemons on hand, but I really prefer how the tart lemons play with the notes in the Pimm’s No.1.
  • If you have a lot of mint at your fingertips, add a few leaves to the mixture of blackberries, zest, and sugar, muddling well. It will take your cocktails to another level with the added depth.
  • Always use organic berries and citrus, since their skins absorb chemicals so easily. You don’t want those in your cocktails.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

So, how popular is Pimm’s in your bar cart? Is this your first taste? If it’s not your summer staple already, give this recipe a go. It’s not too heavy on the alcohol, either. Feel free to swap out my garnish suggestions with whatever is blooming or seasonal in your garden. I love adding rhubarb, lemon, borage, or raspberries to my Pimm’s cocktails. Why not a raspberry shrub? Just substitute the blackberries with whatever berries you have in your fridge or in your garden.

Cheers to a week of filling up your reservoir, to seeking out the brilliant and positive, to focusing on the good that’s out there, and to making time for friends.



Oh! And here are the other awesome and inspiring cocktails within Sherrie and Renée’s blogtastic #DRINKTHESUMMER roundup. You’re thirsty. I’m thirsty. We’re both dying to try a few of these very soon. There’s something here for everyone, whether you want/need a little booze in your life or not. Cheers!

With Food + Love | Fresh Heirloom Bloody Marys with Old Bay and Spicy Pickles

Will Frolic for Food | The Sugar Hollow: Watermelon Gin Cocktail with Cardamom and Lime

Kale & Caramel | Sweet Coconut Slushie with Spiced Agua Fresca de Jamaica

Hummingbird High | Thyme Lemonade

Brooklyn Supper | Bloody Maria Cocktails

Cake Over Steak | Blackberry Bourbon Cocktail

Loves Food, Loves to Eat | Coconut Nectarine White Wine Spritzers

Dunk & Crumble | Ginger Peach Whiskey Smash

Tasty Yummies | When Figs Fly: Spiced Rum Fig Kombucha Cocktail

Feed Me Phoebe | Pimm’s Cup Cocktail with Fresh Ginger, Lime and Tarragon

Earthy Feast | Strawberry, Basil and Pink Peppercorn Negroni

Ginger & Toasted Sesame | Blackberry Peach Margarita with Spicy Salt

O&O Eats | The Long Hope: a Honeydew Cucumber Gin Cocktail

my name is yeh | Nutella Egg Cream

Faring Well | Sparkling Melon Coolers with Muddled Raspberries and Mint

Beard and Bonnet | Pineapple and Cilantro Moscow Mule

The Pancake Princess | Strawberry Balsamic Shrubs

Edible Perspective | Rosé Slushies

Vegetarian ‘Ventures | Sparkling Peppered Plum Blush

The Broken Bread | Blackberry, Cucumber and Mint Gin Spritzer

Tending the Table | Plum Spritzer with Ginger and Kafir Lime

Appeasing a Food Geek | Sugar Plum Margarita

She Eats | Fizzy Lime and Blackberry Shrub

holly & flora | Pimm’s Cup with Blackberry and Lemon Zest Shrub

Vigor and Sage | Peachy Tomato Basil Gin and Tonic

The Pig & Quill | Raspberry Basil Gingerade Fizz

Hungry Girl por Vida | Peanut Butter and Berry Smoothie

A Brown Table | Fig and Bourbon Summer Smash

The Clever Carrot | 5 Minute White Peach Margaritas

Cookie and Kate | Watermelon Sangria

le jus d’orange | Peach Yogurt Soju and Ginger Plum Kombucha Cocktail

Chocolate + Marrow | Raspberry Thyme Smash

The Bojon Gourmet | Basil Pluot Pimm’s Cup

Snixy Kitchen | Sparkling Asian Pear and Mint Iced Tea

what’s cooking good looking | Watermelon Basil Colada

i am a food blog | Thyme Gin and Tonics

Fix Feast Flair | Peachy Kentucky Mules

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