The easygoing sounds of The Easy Leaves beckon us from the top of hill. We trudge up the path, vineyards on both sides, and the smell of barbecue wafting our way as we stroll past partygoers sitting on picnic tables underneath oak trees, filling their faces with pork ribs, brisket and potato salad. After a few hugs and hellos, we seek food and drinks for ourselves and take a seat at the foot of the vista. And we settle in. Friends arrive in twos and threes, joining in a circle of lip smacking, sipping and chatter. If there is one thing I’ve missed since leaving Healdsburg, its nights like this, where friends can effortlessly come together.
We can’t get enough of the landscape, and snap countless photos from various angles as the sun shifts in the western sky. “The food is so good,” says Jon, “the potato salad, and the beans; the beans are amazing.” Yes, the food is good. The drinks are good. The music is good. The company is good. This place that I call home has managed to once again, amaze me. People from near and far travel to wine country to get a taste – pun intended – of the wine country lifestyle; but we still have our secrets, our a little magical pieces that are for our eyes only. They are nights like tonight: an intimate barbecue on a hilltop vineyard, no city lights in sight, just the un-paralleled panorama of Alexander Valley. Vineyards stretch out below us, and hills roll in the distance, the sun casting a golden glow over it all, warming our backs and faces as the temperature starts to dip and the winds start to stir. We clutch our cocktails and tap our foot to the music. And smile. And laugh.
It’s kind of hard to achieve perfect moments like this, but when they happen, it’s almost dreamlike. You start wondering how you are so lucky to know people who would invite you to their secret utopia for an evening. You wonder how you got to have such good friends to share the evening with. And you realize how blessed you are to live in this beautiful place. The sun sets on the food, the drinks, the music, and the company; and we hike back down the hill, through the vineyards, and say goodnight to picture-perfect evening.
***Here’s what we were drinking — among other things that evening — Whenever you put bourbon in my hand, I’m a happy camper. Add barbecue, folk music and friends to make the night complete. ***
2 oz. bourbon
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 oz. honey syrup
To make the honey syrup: mix one part honey with two parts hot water. Stir until fully incorporated.
To make the drink: combine all the ingredients in a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
If you like your cocktail on the stronger side, use less syrup.