meyer lemon bourbon fizzes | a change of scenery

cocktails, fruits, spring, whiskey

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April has been quite the month for us, to put it lightly. Since our move out to the western slope of Colorado to the tiny town of Paonia a few weeks back, I’ve traded my dress suits for Carhartt overalls, I haven’t given wearing makeup a second thought, I go to bed before 11:00 on most evenings, and I’m learning how to drive a tractor.

Crazy, right?

Our nightly conversations involve discussions on pruning styles, vineyard trellising ideas, irrigation challenges, soil amendments, the right tractor attachment for weeding, and the next step for renovating our 1950s farmhouse. It’s definitely a fixer-upper, but it has charming potential. Some people might say it’s dated and basic, while I say it’s “rustic chic” and just begging for a breath of fresh air!

It’s hard to think that March 9th was my last night as a sommelier and manager at Shanahan’s back in the city. I know I have alluded to change over the past few months here on the blog, but I hadn’t gone into much detail. Now that I am finished with my job, it’s a little easier to do. For those of you who don’t know, Steve and I took a daring leap of faith and decided to follow our dreams of owning and operating a vineyard and eventual winery.

We had always thought we’d wind up in either California or Oregon, and we had always thought it was about ten years down the road. Well, when the timing is right, and the place is a perfect fit, you sometimes have to take the risk, close your eyes, jump out, and make the dream happen.

And that’s just what we did.

We asked two of our closest friends and fellow wine industry professionals to join us on this crazy adventure, and we have all been pruning just over 20 acres of grapevines over the past few weeks, in addition to acclimating to “roommate life” in a small farmhouse. Optimally, we would’ve started on the daunting task of clipping back the vines in March, but Steve and I were still finishing up our jobs there at the restaurant. I’ll share more about the move, our new place, and our plans for the future in another post. For now, I’ll share this simple cocktail I’ve been making with the remaining Meyer lemons that keep trickling into my kitchen.

I’m pleased that Meyer lemons are still showing up at the markets here in Colorado. Their flavor is sweeter and a little less acidic than traditional lemons. You can actually just peel-and-eat them like you would an orange or nectarine. In fact, it’s believed that they are a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. If you can’t get your hands on any Meyers, you can substitute regular lemons in this particular recipe. It might be a tad more tart, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, when it comes to sour cocktails.

The fresh Meyer lemon juice pairs perfectly with the sage simple syrup in this recipe. I walked out to the backyard garden and clipped some sage that had survived over the exceptionally mild winter season here. The leaves were a little ratty, but their fragrance was prolific. Perfect for making an herbaceous simple syrup.

This post was made possible by the makers of the beautiful cutting board I used in these photos, Cogworks. This artisanal woodworking company was founded by Ian Johnson in Antrim, New Hampshire back in 1997. They feature cutting boards, cheese boards, bookmarks, lazy Susans, and cogs in various woods. Before they reached out to me, I had already purchased one of their gorgeous tree-like bookmarks. I specifically chose their small walnut cutting board for its richness in color and compact size. I love using it for cutting up fresh citrus and herbs.

spring meyer lemon bourbon fizzes

  • 2 ounces bourbon {I used Breckenridge}
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce sage simple syrup {see recipe notes below}
  • 1/4 ounce Breckenridge Bitter
  • 1 organic, free-range egg white {mine were supplied by my friend Maeve}
  • dehydrated Meyer lemon slice, for garnish
  1. Make the sage simple syrup and allow enough time for the mixture to steep and cool, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a mixing tin, combine the bourbon, lemon juice, sage simple syrup, Breckenridge Bitter, and egg white.
  3. Dry shake {without adding ice} vigorously for 30 seconds, and don’t skimp on the shaking. You’ll be rewarded with a creamy, frothy cocktail, and it’s well worth the extra effort.
  4. Add ice and continue shaking for at least 20 more seconds.
  5. Double-strain into a coupe glass and garnish with dehydrated Meyer lemon slices.
  • For the sage simple syrup, combine equal parts cane sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves and remove from heat. Toss in a few sprigs of fresh sage and let steep until the mixture reaches room temperature. Strain off the solids and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Use the simple syrup in cocktails or as a sweetener in hot tea.
  • To make the Meyer lemon garnishes, thinly slice a Meyer lemon and dehydrate in a food dehydrator. This will take a little under a day on the “fruit setting.” You may also dehydrate them in the oven on the lowest setting. The Kitchn has a great tutorial on how to dehydrate fruit without an actual dehydrator; although, I truly recommend investing in one!
  • Definitely opt for organic lemons to dodge any unwanted pesticide residue, and go for organic, free-range eggs, since you’ll be incorporating a raw product into your cocktail. 

Since we are almost finished moving out to one of the highest elevation vineyards in the United States, if not the highest, I felt it fitting to use Breckenridge Distillery‘s Kentucky straight bourbon for this springtime tipple. Their high elevation distillery is known for its bourbon, but their secret weapon is their bitter aperitif. Hand-harvested alpine herbs, dried fruits, and bitter roots comprise its ingredient list. It’s delicious on its own, poured over a solid block of ice, and it’s remarkable as a balancing note here, as well.

I’ll close with a few snippets from our spring garden here in Denver. I’m already missing our established yard that we’ve filled up to the brim with bulbs and perennials over the years. Our seasonal flowers pop up at different times throughout the growing season, giving us a constantly changing, undulating symphony of fragrance and color.

We have a lot of work to do at our new place in the country, and it will take a lot of research on how to grow plants at a higher altitude {it’s 6,100 feet above sea level out here!}, how to deal with a much shorter growing season {a little over 100 days!}, and how to keep the deer and elk away from our edible landscaping.

But first, more pruning.

Today entails finishing up the old Wente Chardonnay vines and walking through the rows to mend any irrigation fixtures that need replacing. And then it’ll be time for a seriously chilled Mama’s Little Yella Pils and an early-to-bed evening. Every evening has been an early one since our move. Gone are the late nights and late mornings that accompany a job within the service industry.

And I’m not complaining one bit.

A big thank you to Cogworks for making this post possible and for making my fruit-cutting and picnicking adventures all the more beautiful.



styling resources

  1. Susan says:

    Mazel tov on all the Big Leaps!

  2. This looks so gorgeous! And that dehydrated lemon looks so much like a slice of Blood Orange. It’ll be a great way to test out my new dehydrator!

    • Andrea, first of all, I am super excited that you have a food dehydrator!! Making dried citrus garnishes is so easy, and they are great with cocktails and with a tea setup. Secondly, I wanted to say that I truly love your blog and hope to read it more often, now that my job situation has changed for the positive. Thirdly, I never told you, but I loved the post you wrote about your beautiful grandmother. Your books that you made her were so thoughtfully done. I’m sure you think of her every day, since you surround yourself with so much beauty. I miss my grandmother terribly, but I think of her almost every time I’m in the kitchen or in the garden. Love to you, lady!!

  3. Donna Baker- says:

    Congrats to you and Steve! What an adventure! All the best

    • Thanks, Donna BB! We are still in the midst of moving from Denver and finishing up our house to put on the market. We will be back in Denver a few more times, and like I’ve said before, I’d love to see you. I’ll be in touch! I SO appreciate your support and congrats – this is one crazy adventure, for sure, but we are thriving out here. ….I do miss my established garden, though…. Hugs to you and Orvin!

  4. drinkinginsa says:

    I love this post! Loving your site as well!

  5. Woohoo! Looks delicious and with a lovely view too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Heather – I can’t wait until you and little Dri Dri can come out and visit. Dri can work the farm, and we can drink rosé, lol. 😉 I miss you so much, but I’m so happy that I have the internets now, so we can Skype more often. I’m having an identity crisis because we don’t see each other as much. You are a part of me!

  6. Joan Steese says:

    Jayme! I love hearing of all your new adventures and challenges. I grew up in an area with a short growing season also, in Northern Wisconsin. But, of courses we did not have the high elevation. I can’t wait to see the property! Mom Steese

    • I can’t wait to talk with you more about our similar growing seasons. And I can’t wait to see you at Julie’s wedding this summer. So excited. You’ll have to come out for a visit. We’ll take you all around and show you local farms, gardens, and favorite hiking and dining spots. It is truly magical out here. We love you!! We just finished pruning the Chardonnay, so we are over halfway finished with the vineyard. We are going to celebrate BIGTIME. XO!

  7. So happy for you in this challenging adventure! Love seeing snaps from the day on your story 😉 And this cocktail! So jealous that you still have Meyer Lemon popping up this time of year. At any case, I will definitely be giving this baby a whirl. I can’t seem to get enough of egg white cocktails at the moment. xoxo

    • KELSEY! We finally have internet here at the house, so I’m finally replying! 😉 I was using my phone to do bloggy things, and it took FOREVER to even upload a photo, so I gave up. I haven’t spied any remaining Meyers here, so I must have swiped up the very last of them. You’ll have to to give this cocktail a go with regular lemons. I’m such a sucker for egg white cocktails, too. Plus, your arms will buff up nicely when you make a lot of them for a crowd! They’re a workout! I can’t wait to take some time between today and tomorrow to catch up on my reading – I need some inspiration, and I’ve been loving your IG posts lately. XO!

  8. Matt Singh says:

    I was searching Pinterest with the keyword “Paonia” when I stumbled across your blog . I used to live on the western slope many years ago and I am dreaming of returning. Paonia is at the top of my list. Are you aware of the New York food writer, Eugenia Bone and her book, At Mesa’s Edge: Cooking and Ranching in Colorado’s North Fork Valley? Last I heard, she was living on a ranch over at Crawford.

    • Hi, Matt!

      I was offering an apology just a moment ago for not making a timely response, so now I do the same to you! This season was our very first out here and was also our first season with the grapes. I am just now getting my head above water and “catching up on life.” Where are you on your thoughts of moving back out to the western slope? I’m smitten and can say that I am here for the long haul. Paonia is this verdant, hidden gem that has the most intriguing people, food, and terrain.

      And I have heard of Eugenia Bone! I happened upon her work out here, in fact. It would be lovely to meet her one day. Thank you for mentioning her and for taking the time to write. Good luck on your eventual move out here (nudge, nudge!).

  9. paulathomas2015 says:

    You two are such an inspiration on those who are too scare to follow big dreams! We’ll have to stop by sometime and lend a hand, maybe through green harvest.
    This drink, as always, looks delicious for those brave enough for bourbon…maybe someday. I do have to report that while in Italy, negronis made their way into my heart (and i didn’t think i liked gin), so there’s hope.
    Happy summer at the vineyard!

    • Paula, you can tell that I’ve obviously had my head down to the ground for the past few months, hence the very late response here! Thanks so much for your encouraging words. I am soaking them in. This month, especially, I sometimes find myself wanting to run back to Denver and pretend this all didn’t happen, but I also find myself incredibly satisfied with this change of pace. You and Scott will have to come out here. You are welcome anytime for a getaway, and we have space here in our house and can recommend some spots here in the valley. We’d love to see you this next season! I’m going to go over and stalk your blog in a few. The winter is slowing us down, thankfully, so I can enjoy some things that I didn’t have time for over the summer. ALL the best to you in 2018!

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