Tag Archives: whiskey

manhattan | a visit, a cocktail + a book | holly & flora

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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mint juleps with rhubarb liqueur, strawberry + tarragon | holly & flora

mint juleps with rhubarb liqueur, strawberry + tarragon | on embracing the crazy-faith

So, what’s the craziest dream you’ve ever dreamed?

You know, the one that wakes you up in the middle of the night and compels you to turn on the light that’s resting on the nightstand, all flustered and sweaty, in order to write down its contents in a scribbled, shaky, illegible scrawl. Chasing your pencil. The kind of harried writing that begs a shot of something strong. Whiskey-strong. You’re wide awake; you know what you want; you’re ready.

This is what life should be about, right? I know it’s kind of heady for a Saturday morning, but this is no ordinary, Saturday morning. Dude, I didn’t even mean to make a parallel here with the Kentucky Derby. I promise that I didn’t, but it so fits. I don’t know that much history on the Derby, but I do know that today’s particular, racing combination of horse and human is known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”

I don’t have a horse on the line; perhaps, you do. And I wish you the best of luck. Luck. The very definition of the word means “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” I’ve been thinking about the term lately. And as a result, I’m choosing to use its placement in my conversation more wisely.

mint juleps with rhubarb liqueur, strawberry + tarragon | holly & flora

mint juleps with rhubarb liqueur, strawberry + tarragon | holly & flora

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fall hot toddies | holly & flora | with DRAM apothecary and leopold bros.

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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palisade peach + sage whiskey smash | holly & flora

palisade peach + sage whiskey smash | my inspiring time in portland

Sometimes, you’ve gotta just shake things up and get on a plane. And fly out to Portland to a creatives meet-up, where you don’t know anyone at all. Because you’re that thirsty for change.

That’s exactly what I did last weekend, when I attended the Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon. This event for creative entrepreneurs was founded by Joy of Frock Files and Melissa of LuLu the Baker. I found out about the one-day workshop via my IG friend, Bobbie Pinto, writer of the blog, Even If Nobody Reads This. I followed her link, perused the lineup of speakers, fell in love with its vibe, and signed up that very day. I didn’t even know what to expect; I’d never attended a bloggers’ conference before. I just knew that I wanted some serious inspiration, a good kick in the ass, and a renewed sense of creativity.

That’s what came my way, full-blast, and I took home even more than I ever thought I would.

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apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | thoughts on intentional living

There’s nothing quite like a scathing but well-deserved comment from a loved-one, before you’ve even set foot on the floor, first thing in the morning. My alarm had gone off, I had snoozed my standard three times, and I was beginning my morning routine of sleepily scrolling through the emails that had popped up during the night, checking my Instagram feed, and noting the happenings on Facebook. I heard Steve mutter something to me. “What’s that?” I didn’t even look up. Sighing, he asked the question again. Staring at my screen, I quickly responded, “Just one second. I need to finish this email.”

Then I caught the tail end of another question he asked, and I answered, “Um, yes.” Judging from Steve’s facial expression, that was clearly the wrong answer, and it did not even pertain to what he asked. I put down my phone, apologized, and begged him to ask me again. I was going to pay full attention this time. Promise. Instead of posing his question again, he curtly stated, “I am tired of playing second fiddle to your cell phone. Every morning.”

Those words resonated within me. It was true, and I hated to admit it. It’s not like I even care what I am lazily scrolling through, and I know that I’d have a better morning {and relationship!}, if I forewent my daily ritual of catching up on digital details. The guilt of hurting someone I dearly care about tore me apart, and I made a pact then and there that I would not pick up my phone first thing in the morning. I wouldn’t even keep it beside my bed. It would be a tough habit to break.


I felt like Fred Armisen on Portlandia, the “Technology Loop” episode. “Please help me. Please help me.”


So, the past two mornings, I have stored my phone across the room, so I would actually have to get out of bed to turn off my alarm. No more snoozing. No more mindless swiping and tapping. No more trading quality human interaction with my dearest for a one-sided session with a pocket-sized, life-sucking inanimate object. This entire shift of how I choose to spend my morning coincides with an article I read in the latest edition of Uppercase Magazine. The piece focused on how we can fit more intentional creativity into our daily lives, despite the onslaught of digital distractions, and highlighted a book, aptly titled, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. Have you read it?

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

I immediately put that book on hold at the library and decided to make a conscious effort to be more present in my daily life, both in how I interact with others and how I choose to use my personal time. I don’t know if I could go, say, 30 days without social media or my phone; although, it sounds very enticing. Shifting my thoughts toward being more intentional with my actions, however, has yielded some good results, even though I am only three days in on my commitment. I squeezed in a run each morning, started the day with a meditation, and even went outside and connected with my backyard garden. I took time to lie on the ground, take in the smells, look up at the sky, and decide how I wanted to sculpt my day. Why hadn’t I done this any sooner?

I have a long way to go, before these new actions become habits, but I am pointed in the right direction. And I am not exempt from any potholes. In fact, I snoozed this morning, it was raining outside, and I had a raging headache. Initially, I reached for my phone and cozied down in the covers, but I decided against it and forced myself to go out for a run. Even my running wardrobe is currently fighting against me: I have only one matching pair of socks, and I have to wear three of my sports bras to get actual support. No exaggeration. They are that old and stretched out {the bras, that is}. It’s a little embarrassing, and now you know this detail about me. Despite these circumstances, I managed a solid 3-mile run.

So, I’m due for a reward. In the form of a cocktail. It is Friday, after all, and it is important to celebrate the changes we make, right? I’m pretty good at justifying reason for making a drink.

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

I decided upon a whiskey-based cocktail, since I have been on that loop here lately. And since St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, why not an Irish whiskey? This cocktail is slightly sweet, with notes of ripe apricot, has just the right amount of citrus-y acidity, and finishes with a tea-like bitter note. It’s balanced and marries perfectly with the flavor profile of this particular whiskey, Teeling, a small-batch, blended Irish whiskey, which is aged in rum casks.

Teeling’s notes of caramel, baking spices, dried herbs, and orange peel are perfect matches with apricot liqueur, a little lemon juice, a splash of bitters, and a black tea simple syrup. The black tea simple is easy to make and, as I mentioned above, adds a depth of bitterness to the cocktail. Make this simple syrup in advance, so that it has time to cool.


black tea simple syrup


  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 bags organic black tea
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the bags of black tea, and remove from heat.
  2. Let the tea bags steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, carefully pressing out the excess liquid with a spoon.
  3. Place the saucepan back on the stove and bring to a slow boil once again. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • If you wish to make more simple syrup, you can increase the amounts. It’s an easy 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. 
  • This particular recipe for black tea simple syrup will make about 8 cocktails. 
  • The simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator up to one month. If you have any extra, add it to iced coffee or iced tea for an added depth of flavor and sweetener. Black tea simple also marries well with spiced rum. It would be perfect with bourbon and lemon or lemonade, depending upon your desired level of sweetness. 

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

It’s always a fun process to name a cocktail. You can play it safe and simply name it by its ingredients, or you can name it after an author, a book, a movie, an inside joke, or a terrible pun. I’m definitely guilty of the terrible pun, but today I will settle on calling this cocktail, the “Irish Breakfast.” Since black tea is a component of the cocktail, it reminded me of “Irish Breakfast” tea. I figured, if it is a true Irish breakfast, however, whiskey must be involved. And I can so joke about this, since I have a little Irish in me. πŸ˜‰


irish breakfast


  1. In a mixing glass filled with ice, build the cocktail with the whiskey, apricot liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass, filled with ice.
  4. Add a splash of soda and garnish with a lemon peel.

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora


Maybe every once in a while we can take a break from doing everything faster and quicker to reflect on who we are and where we are going.”

– Joe Plumeri


What are you doing this weekend? I will be reconnecting to my garden, turning the compost, dead-heading the grasses and shrubs, and mulching the beds with Steve. I’m regretting signing up for a race this Sunday morning. It would normally be fine, but I forgot that it is officially St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and I’m sure the streets of downtown Denver, where the race is held, will be strewn with the aftermath of Saturday night’s debauchery and its accompanying sights and smells. At least I have a beer to look forward to at the end of the race!

  • How do you detach from your wired world? What means do you have to remain balanced?
  • Do you recommend any helpful books or resources?

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

Here is a peek into what’s happening in the garden this week. It still looks pretty brown, dead, and dismal, but there are signs of life popping up here and there, giving me hope that spring is around the corner. The sights around here will be drastically different even within a month. I am beyond ready for you, spring!

Cheers to an amazing weekend and cheers to intentional living!

XO,

Jayme

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