Tag Archives: herbs

snap pea-infused gin cocktails with basil, cucumber + mint | holly & flora

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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palisade peach, basil + tarragon spritzes | rituals | holly & flora

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

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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rosemary palomas with grapefruit salt rims | holly & flora

rosemary paloma cocktails with grapefruit sea salt rims | a cookbook + rosé 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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tart cranberry gin sparklers | holly & flora

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!!

tart cranberry gin sparklers | holly & flora tart cranberry gin sparklers | holly & flora Continue reading