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fruitful days

Recipe: elder fruit salad cocktail

I don’t make birthday wishes, but every year I do hope for snow. This year I awoke to frosted windows on my birthday. Not only did we get below freezing overnight, but it snowed down to around 9500 feet!


this is the kind of birthday gift i love



To be honest, Jeremy and I stopped with birthday gifts about a year or two into our relationship. Neither of us were into things per se. The real gifts were every day – a heartfelt, “thanks for being so wonderful” or giving a much needed hug without being asked. As I age, I weigh what is important based on how much it will mean to me on the day I die. Useless crap is not going to rank high on my deathbed priorities. What matters most? Relationships and the people you love. My birthday would have been fine as just another beautiful day in Colorado with my favorite guy and my favorite pup, but there was a little something extra this time… a visit from two very dear friends.

After their fly fishing trip in the mountains, Todd and Diane drove out to Crested Butte to spend a few days with us, arriving on my birthday. We took them around to favorite restaurants, the local homemade ice cream shop (twice!), the local (bestest) coffee shop, hikes, the neighborhood, the towns of Crested Butte and Mount Crested Butte (yes, they are two different towns), and a scenic road trip to Paonia to pick organic peaches, apples, pears, and heirloom tomatoes. So strange to wake up to snow and frost in the morning and be picking the last of the season’s peaches in nearly 80°F sunshine in the afternoon. All the while, a running conversation catching each other up on lives and the latest news.


precious colorado peaches

todd is an expert picker

rome beauty apples

ever the photographers at work

bartlett pears

picking fruit in the shadow of the snowy white mountains

farm kitty

on beckwith pass

todd is so happy when he’s in the mountains



Todd and Diane are family to us. They love and worry about Kaweah as if she were their own pup. We are always learning new things from each other, always sharing, always laughing. The best meals were the ones we cooked together at home after a long day exploring the area, admiring the landscape and aspens, and picking fruit in the hot sun. While prepping dinner, I served Jeremy’s latest favorite cocktail. It has a lot going on, but it is utterly refreshing and delightful if you’re a fan of fruit… and gin. I call it the elder fruit salad cocktail and it got a big thumbs up from Todd and Diane. So I’m dedicating this drink to those two (also so I don’t have to write the recipe down for them).

lemon, lime, cucumber simple syrup, grapefruit bitters, saint germain, gin



Use any gin you like, but I have to tell you that CapRock organic gin (a local Colorado gin) is a perfect choice for this drink. It has a complexity that blows your regular gin out of the water. Fresh squeezed lemon and lime juices are preferable, but if you can’t get that, bottled will do. Don’t skip the cucumber simple syrup. It’s easy enough to make (and you’ll certainly want to make this cocktail again) and it’s what qualifies the “salad” part of the name.

lemon and lime juices

add gin

and saint germain



Depending on the volume of your glass and the amount of ice, you can make this drink with or without seltzer water. I prefer it with some fizz, but seltzer water is optional. If you like more tartness, up the amount of lemon and lime juices. If you want it sweeter, increase the cucumber simple syrup. Just do me a favor and don’t omit the bitters. I’ve tried this with lime bitters, but I think grapefruit bitters are much nicer in this drink. You only need a teensie tiny amount (3 dashes), but it makes such a difference and balances everything beautifully.

pour in the juices

cucumber simple syrup

don’t forget the bitters



What you get is a cocktail of flavors that come at you like an alternating wave of chorus girl dancers on a glitzy stage. The elderflower, the citrus, the cucumber, the gin, the bitters. It’s all there, but politely taking turns rather than fighting with one another. So if you need to cool off, rehydrate, and relax – keep this cocktail handy.

elder fruit salad cocktail



Elder Fruit Salad Cocktail
[print recipe]

2 oz. gin (we really like CapRock organic gin made in Colorado)
1 oz. Saint Germain
1 oz. cucumber simple syrup (recipe below)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
3 dashes grapefruit bitters
ice
seltzer water (optional)

cucumber simple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup shredded cucumber, packed (2 Persian cucumbers or 2/3 of an English cucumber)

Make the cucumber simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for one minute then remove from heat. Add the shredded cucumber to the hot simple syrup and stir together. Cover the pot and let infuse for 30 minutes. When the cucumber syrup is ready, strain it through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve the liquid, discard the solids. Makes 2 cups.

Make the cocktail: In a highball glass, combine the gin, Saint Germain, cucumber simple syrup, lemon and lime juices, and grapefruit bitters. Fill the glass with ice and top off with seltzer water. Stir. Makes one highball cocktail.


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10 nibbles at “fruitful days”

  1. Kristin says:

    Totally with you on birthday, anniversary, and Christmas gifts. We’d rather make a great memory than spend money on stuff we don’t want or need. What a fun visit that must have been. This cocktail may inspire me to invite some people over so I have an excuse to try it!

  2. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    our snow level last night was about 7000 feet, but i got a dusting. i’m not as excited as you are about it, i hate driving to work in the morning when it’s snowy…

    it’s pretty to look at though…

  3. juneberry says:

    I clicked on this, thinking “well, I don’t really care for fruit cocktail, but I’m sure it will be something original since Jenny made it…” and lo and behold, its my favorite kind of cocktail! I LOVE St. Germaine, flavored simple syrups, gin, flavored bitters, and cucumber cocktails! What a fantastic recipe, thank you for creating it and happy birthday!

  4. Louise says:

    Happy Birthday!! and sincere wishes for many, many more healthy & happy ones!

  5. JulieT says:

    I have so much mint simple syrup in my fridge (note to self-one person does not need a quart of simple syrup) that I’m going to try your recipe with that instead of the cucumber ss. Where do you source your bitters, or do you make your own? Thanks for the beautiful mountain shots. Love reading your blog and adore the eye candy of such an artist as yourself.

  6. Stephen Andrew says:

    Oh my. Giving me the vapors. Looks gorgeous and sounds amazing. Happy belated birthday! Your breathtaking photography never fails to inspire and delight me.

  7. diane and todd says:

    thanks Jen for all your time, hospitality and friendship. We had a blast and it’s a trip to remember, forever and ever. And this drink?!!! it’s kick ass. Thanks for the inspiration to drink it again!

  8. jenyu says:

    Kristin – I’m afraid the cocktail is probably best suited for summer, but I wouldn’t turn it down in fall :)

    Rocky Mountain Woman – yeah, driving in the snow can be stressful. Be safe!

    juneberry – it’s got all the good stuff!! :) Thank you!

    Louise – thanks!!

    JulieT – I hope you like it with the mint! I tend to be rather partial to cucumber. As for the bitters, I got a sample pack of bitters (scrappy’s bitters) from Peppercorn. They are not cheap, but they make ALL the difference in a cocktail. I went back and bought the large bottle of the grapefruit bitters. So good.

    Stephen – thank you, dear!

    Diane and Todd – LOVE you guys! Looking forward to our next visit together. xoxo

  9. Terri says:

    At the lake,raining. Just made your cocKtail. ROCKS! Now, what else can I use the St. Germain for?

  10. jenyu says:

    Terri – it’s great in a lot of different cocktails, but I also use it in this cake: http://userealbutter.com/2011/05/11/blackberry-lemon-elderflower-cake-recipe/

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