Tag Archives: summer

that summer buzz | an apple brandy cocktail with a ginger-honey syrup

Summer is in full swing here on the Western Slope of Colorado. We’ve had a couple of days nearing 100ºF, and both the garden and the vineyard are responding to the heat. It’s definitely hitting us hard, so we’ve been retreating indoors midday to keep our cool. So, here I am, sitting at my kitchen table and sharing this cocktail with you, ice water in hand. Mid-July is when my husband and I hit our stride and feel like we are constantly tying up grapevines, trellising sprawling tomato vines, and putting up an endless fight with surging weeds.

It’s all energizing and all so tiring. But it’s the “good” kind of tiring, you know? The kind where you come inside at the end of a hard day outside, hit the shower, make a chilled drink, and fall asleep hard.

I’m sharing a cocktail recipe I shot and developed in early May, right before we undertook the task of planting 4,700 new, grafted grapevines. The last few weeks are honestly a blur to me, and I’m finally resurfacing from that crazy endeavor. I didn’t want the summer to get away from me without sharing this aromatic, ginger-driven whiskey cocktail with you.

It’s summery, bright, refreshing, and filled with notes of ripe apples and spice, and it features a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pommeau from one of my favorite Colorado cider producers, Big B’s, located right here in the North Fork Valley, just about a half-mile down the road from my house.

How lucky am I?!

Continue reading

amethyst basil gin smashes | a tour at pea & posy flower farm

As I write this post and share these photos, I’m already growing thirsty for spring and summer’s appearance again. Just before the fall season swept in, with its toasty, golden hues and shorter days, I visited one of my favorite flower farms on the Western Slope, Pea & Posy, where I got to spend time with my friend and flower farmer, Calli Ferber.

As a fellow female farmer, I enjoy visiting other properties and chatting with women growers, getting a peek into their daily lives, and leaving with a little inspiration from observing their particular farming setup, learning about their environmental hurdles, and listening to their business ideas. I always leave feeling less isolated and am reminded that farming is so much more than planting seeds, dealing with weeds, or even growing incredible produce.

It’s about community and connection, both with the earth and with each other.

Calli graciously sent me home with some of her garden-fresh amethyst basil. She’d recently posted a basil gin smash on her Instagram Stories, made with amethyst basil leaves, and the cocktail’s bright, magenta-hued color caught my eye. I brought home that small bouquet of fragrant basil, grabbed a favorite gin, and immediately fashioned a version of my own.

I’ll share the recipe below. First, let’s get to know Calli a little further and dig deeper into her journey, her focused devotion to her family, her challenges that she faces farming in the high-desert, drought-prone mesa country of western Colorado, and her blossoming creative outlet, which is her flower farm.

And our shared love of gin-based cocktails, of course.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

about figgin’ thyme | a rum cocktail with fig + thyme and how to make allspice dram

I’m a firm believer that when something is meant to happen, it will happen in its own sweet time, at just the right time. There is a reason the saying, “It is what it is,” is so simple, yet so pertinent. We do what we can, with the tools we’ve been given, with the understanding we presently have. The rest works itself out.

I’d like to force certain things to happen, though. Like when you’ve worked really hard on a project, and you want that recognition or that promotion. Sometimes, however, the timing just isn’t where you’d like it to be. {Insert wasted energy, emotions, and countless hours here.}

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

I have a handful of letters I need to respond to, but they sit on my desk, haphazardly tossed in a pile, waiting for the “perfect” time to craft. Maybe I haven’t spoken with one of the letter-writers, and I feel the need to formally write an intense, full-on disclosure and catch-up of my life’s happenings. Perhaps I’ve been in a funk and feel the need to “be in a better place” in order to write back a cheerful friend. A few moments this evening reminded me that there is no time better than the present to start something.

Work at the restaurant has, thankfully, been a little slow this past week, and I was gifted the past two days off. I had a self-imposed, detailed to-do list beckoning me, but I really felt the need to slow down. I baked a peach crumble. I came up with a few cocktails. I did my nails. I drew a bath and picked out a magazine from a stack of periodicals I’d been meaning to read for quite a while.

I randomly grabbed the very first issue of Kinfolk I’d purchased. It was also the first almost-$20 independent magazine I’d purchased. This particular issue, volume seven, published in 2013, was all about ice cream and entertaining. Sometimes, I buy magazines, and they sit on my desk or tabletop for years without my opening them. I figure that what goes around comes around and that the timing will be right, when I decide to crack the spine and flip through the pages. This time proved my assumptions correct. The timing was perfect.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

I opened to page 102 and read Killeen Hanson‘s words on being neighborly, checking in, and writing to friends and family. She recounts the many times her mother and father have written her over the years: notes on postcards, letters sneaked in junk mail envelopes, folders filled with local newspaper clippings. I’m also a beloved fan of the handwritten letter. Somehow, it supersedes the digital type in a text or email. It takes more time, art, effort. Maybe we, as a culture, have casually and conveniently forgotten this art, since it demands much more of us in our fast-paced, instantly gratified, real-time lifestyles.


“We’ve all received that out-of-the-blue note from a friend; the joy and comfort that these little check-ins bring us is incredible considering the simplicity and scale of the act. It doesn’t take much time or effort to jot down a thinking-of-you note to a friend that will change their day.”

Killeen Hanson, Kinfolk, Volume Seven, “How to be Neighborly: Checking In”


I’m vowing this Labor Day weekend to write letters to those friends, pen pals, colleagues, and family members I’ve been thinking about for weeks, months, even years. That article was so timely and relevant. There is no better time than now to say how you feel and brighten someone’s day with your own handwriting and words and doodles.

  • To my mom, I’m finally sending you the edited CDs of your past singing performances.
  • To Derrick, whom I’ve never met in real life but feel so intricately connected with, look for a recap from the past two years.
  • To Sandy, I’ve finally got a few treats for you. I must confess that I ate the first two batches of cookies I baked for you.
  • And to Gina, look out for a little “hello” in your mailbox this week! Your pen pal is finally following through.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

Another item I happened upon today was a batch of homemade allspice dram I made back in the spring. I can’t believe I hadn’t even tasted the finished product! I pursed my lips, squinted my eyes, and shook my head. I needed to do something about this situation.

So, what exactly IS allspice dram?

Allspice dram is a liqueur made from allspice berries with a little cinnamon. It marries perfectly with many Tiki cocktails and is a superb match with pears. I am in the midst of making a fig shrub, so I had an extra handfuls of figs. I correctly assumed that the flavors of figs, cinnamon, and allspice would go along quite nicely. This little cocktail brings the flavors of summer and the notes of fall together. It almost feels like Indian summer in a glass.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora


about figgin’ thyme | a rum cocktail with fig + thyme


  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the figs with the thyme simple syrup.
  2. Fill the tin with ice.
  3. Add the light rum, apricot liqueur, allspice dram, and lemon juice.
  4. Shake well and double strain into coupe glasses. Optionally, double strain into cocktail glasses filled with ice and top with a splash of seltzer.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of freshly cut thyme.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora


thyme simple syrup


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 sprigs freshly cut thyme
  1. Using a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar, measure out your desired portion. The recipe above yielded enough for about eight cocktails.
  2. In a saucepan, over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the sprigs of thyme and let the mixture steep for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Strain off the solids and let the syrup mixture cool.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

For the allspice dram, I took Marcia Simmons’ lead over at Serious Eats. She proved that making your own allspice dram is just as delicious as the real deal. I have actually had a difficult time finding my favorite rendition, St. Elizabeth’s, so an adaptation on her simple recipe was a lifesaver.

An excerpt from the Death & Co. cocktail book, elaborating on both St. Elizabeth's allspice dram and Rothman & Winter's delicious apricot liqueur. This book is a must-have in any home bar. Definitely one of my favorite purchases of the year.

An excerpt from the Death & Co. cocktail book, elaborating on both St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram and Rothman & Winter’s delicious apricot liqueur. This book is a must-have in any home bar. Definitely one of my favorite purchases of the year.


 allspice dram


  • 1 cup light rum {I went with Downslope, again}
  • 1/4 cup whole allspice
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. In a mortar and pestle, crush the whole allspice berries.
  2. Place the crushed allspice in a mason jar and top with the rum.
  3. Shake the jar daily, over the course of four days. On the fourth day, break the cinnamon stick into a few pieces, and add them to the mixture.
  4. Continue steeping for 12 days total. On the twelfth day, strain the mixture through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer. Take the time to make a second pass through a coffee filter for better clarity.
  5. In a saucepan, heat the water and sugar, stirring, until the granules have dissolved. Add the sugar-water to the allspice mixture, shake, and let the flavors integrate for a few days.

The flavor of homemade allspice dram is best, when it’s used within 3-4 months. Even though I forgot about the batch I made back in March, the flavors are still hanging on pretty well. Lots of cozy, baking spice-like notes with a strong liquor backbone.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

Cheers to a wonderfully relaxing Labor Day weekend!

Do you write letters at all? Do you think it is an art worth saving, and, if so, how do you plan on promoting and cultivating its future?

Enjoy those last days of summer, and seriously, disregard anyone who’s telling you it’s over. It’s not. Not until the 23rd. So, why rush it? It will happen, when it happens. Despite a few friends, who are already ordering their PSLs {ahem, Aimee and Nicole!}, I am resisting the urge and am still making popsicles and iced tea. The timing’s just right.

Big hugs,

Jayme

cucumber + melon + white grape sangria

Doesn’t summer seem to be just flying by? Even though fall is soon approaching, I am not giving up this season without a fight. Right about now is when farmers’ markets and gardens start to really pump out the produce, so I am trying my best to capitalize on the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables. At the moment, most of the tomatoes in my garden are plump and green, but give them a few more hot, toasty days, and I will be making and canning tomato sauce on a weekly basis.

I have definitely been enjoying my fair share of rosé and white wine this summer, but sometimes I simply want to sip on something different. Enter the classic, refreshing wine cocktail, sangria. Most traditional sangria recipes call for wine, an additional spirit or two, maybe a little citrus juice, and a bunch of fresh fruit tossed in for a colorful infusion. Ever since I got my new slow juicer, however, I have been experimenting with incorporating fresh juices in almost everything – even in my sangria. This particular sangria recipe is a unique, herbaceous, mash-up of cucumber, white grapes, and melon. It’s just about as garden-to-glass as it gets!

I love sangria, but so many times, the fruit gets mushy, as it infuses. I don’t even end up eating it because of the texture. By juicing the fruit in sangria, you get the freshest flavor without the unwanted consistency. I use a Hurom HG Elite Slow Juicer. It’s one of those kitchen splurges that you won’t regret. What makes it so special? It is a heavy-duty, slow-masticating juicer that cold-presses every last drop of juice from foods, preserving the inherent nutritional integrity. And we all need a little healthy kick, once we add in the wine and booze, right!? I still add freshly cut fruit, but I toss it into the sangria, only when I am ready to serve it.

Wine is the base of sangria, so choose a wine that you wouldn’t mind sipping on by itself. You can make sangria with either red or white wine as a base. This particular recipe calls for a white wine base, and I chose Pinot Grigio, since its citrus and tropical notes pair well with the fresh cucumber and honeydew. Select a dry, un-oaked, style of white wine, with crisp acidity, like a Pinot Grigio, Albariño, or something different, like Vinho Verde.

I am also pretty choosy about the spirits that I use for my cocktails. There are plenty of flavored vodkas out there on the market, but there are only a few that I consider an option. Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka is, most importantly, an organic option. It is made “with respect from seed to glass”, and the care and intention behind this product is evident – crisp, summer cucumber with a clean, light finish. This was a perfect addition to this sangria.


cucumber + melon + white grape sangria


  • 1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
  • 4 ounces Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka
  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 6 ounces white grape juice {about a half-pound of grapes}
  • 6 ounces honeydew or Galia melon juice {a little less than half a melon}
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • soda water
  • cucumber + mint ice cubes {see recipe below}
  • mint leaves, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices for garnish

Give yourself a day ahead to make and freeze your fruit cubes. You can juice the fruits and vegetables in advance, as well. That way, the juice has time to chill in the fridge.

  1. Juice the melon, cucumber, and lemon, following your juicer’s manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Combine the juices and add the Pinot Grigio, cucumber vodka, and elderflower liqueur, mixing well.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Pour into glasses, garnished with cucumber + mint ice cubes.
  5. Top with a splash of soda water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices.
  6. Sit on your back porch, patio, or park and enjoy!

cubes


cucumber + mint ice cubes


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 8 ounces filtered water
  1. Juice the cucumber and the mint leaves, skimming any foam off the top of the juiced mixture. This yields about 8 ounces.
  2. Combine 8 ounces filtered water with the cucumber and mint juice.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid.
  4. Add the cucumber + mint cubes to your sangria {these cubes are pretty intense, so toss in a couple per glass, and fill the rest of the glass with some plain ice cubes}. The cucumber flavor will slowly infuse the sangria, as the cubes melt.

This recipe yields one ice cube tray’s worth of liquid, so plan accordingly.

What if you don’t own a juicer? Don’t fret. You can still create a fresh juice sangria, using a blender. I used my Vitamix for years before owning a juicer and simply strained my blended fruits and veggies through a chinois or sieve for clarity. Williams-Sonoma has a wide spectrum of styles to choose from – cold-press juicers like mine and whole food juicers, along with the high-speed variety.

Cheers to stretching out these last days of summer! I refuse to even think about pumpkins, ghosts, or turkeys, even though the decorations are already up in the stores. I must admit that I did cave and buy a pumpkin candle at Pier One the other afternoon. I couldn’t resist. I’ll just save it for later. And let me know if you have a great recipe for sangria, or if you decide to make this particular green version!

XO and happy summering!