alcohol trials, beginning to booze, learning to appreciate what I never have

Learning to Drink

Since Maine restaurant week, where I drank a glass of wine or mixed drink at every establishment, and a very lovely Basil Lemonade from Local 188 with Dawn, Kate and Kate’s Roomie A, I’ve found myself developing an interest in alcohol for the first time in my life. To be honest, there has always been a personal aversion to alcohol for me because of a history of alcoholism in certain members of my family. I also saw it pretty rampant in my friends in high school and college. Even in my early college days, when social drinking becomes the norm, I found myself throwing up more often than I so wished and not because of the shit ass cafeteria food.

But, as I find myself a bit wiser and more level headed than I was back then, I am conscious of the fact that I am now capable of handling alcohol. I have just spent the past 10 years of my life avoiding it 99% of the time–I detest beer, won’t drink hard alcohol if I can taste it and can’t stand the headaches and hangovers of red wine. Oh and I can’t stand being around drunk people when I’m sober.. in fact, give me a room full of potheads and I’m much more in my element. I’ve essentially become an alcohol prude. Yet, I there is a side to me that wishes to learn more about it and, like everything I’ve learned about food and cooking, I know that the only way to truly learn is to taste. And, besides, I didn’t quite mind all of the drinks we had at our blogger “Obscure Holiday Cocktail” gathering in December.

This past October I made a success batch of homemade Limoncello. These were mostly gifted out to friends and family, but I have enjoyed a few nips here and there to warm up in my usually freezing apartment or to unwind after a particularly hellacious day at work. I’m already planning a second batch in the upcoming month–one that will be steeped longer with lemon peels and contain less simple syrup, perhaps a ginger syrup to add something else to the mix.

Just this past week, I had a hankering for something I haven’t had in about 5 years: A Lychee Saketini. Actually, the first day I spent in Portland I remember having a few of these over dinner at Benkay. It was my first taste of Sake in my life and it was love at first sip. Feeling the need to follow through on this craving my partner helped me gather up the ingredients for a Lychee Saketini Blush recipe I wanted to make.

The sake, Bunraku, Lychees and Grenadine were all purchased at Whole Foods and the Vodka from Hannafords.

The recipe is as follows:


  • Crushed ice
  • 2 shots vanilla-flavored vodka–I used unflavored Vodka
  • 2 shots sake
  • 2 tablespoons lychee syrup
  • Splash grenadine
  • 2 lychee nuts, for garnish


Chill 2 martini glasses. Fill a martini shaker with ice and add vodka, sake, lychee syrup, and grenadine. Shake to combine. Strain into the chilled glasses and garnish with a lychee nut dropped in each glass. Serve immediately.

Not having a proper Martini glass, this was poured into a Delirium Tremens beer glass, which just seemed a bit silly. The flavor was definitely sweeter than I had remembered, perhaps from the Grenadine, but the sake and vodka left subtle notes at the end of every sip. The flavor was ok, but I think the drink overall would have benefited from the spirits being chilled a bit longer than they were. But, in the end, it was pretty enjoyable. I will probably, however, be venturing out the next time a hankering comes around as Benkay did this drink much more service than I could at home.

**Thank you to Kate and her “Hipster Lemonade” post for reminding me that I wanted to write this up.