It doesn’t take much to make me nostalgic. I even get nostalgic for times and places while I’m still there. A sunny day, a whiff of fresh bagels, the taste of a cocktail… anything can set me off. And lately I’ve been wistful for our trip to Montreal – yeah, the one that was only like 2 months ago – because we discovered so many cool things and revisited some of my old favourites, and it was really magical. So this installment of Patio Drinks is dedicated to our city break in Montreal, and the cocktail I had on a rainy evening at Kinka Izakaya: Sake Sangria!
We stumbled upon Kinka Izakaya after hours of scrolling through Yelp reviews looking for a good place to have dinner (sometimes there’s such a thing as too much choice). It was our last night in Montreal and it had rained all day, and Neil had gotten a nail stuck in one of his new shoes while walking around downtown. We were feeling a little burnt out. But the second we stepped into Kinka, three amazing things attacked my senses all at once: the smell of cedar (so good), a thumping funk/hip hop mashup blasting on the sound system, and the staff happily yelling “welcome!” to us in Japanese. I instantly felt revived. And then we looked at the drink menu, and I felt even better.
While Neil soldiered through his GIANT Ume Mojto (made with plum wine), I sipped on my Aka Gria, made with sake, red wine, fresh fruit, and topped with cinnamon and mint. Last night in Montreal = accidental success.
I’m a sake newbie – I never really saw the point of buying a bottle, since I didn’t know how I would drink it. I never ordered it at restaurants because I thought it might be served warm (it often is), and I wasn’t sure that was my jam, to be honest. But I’m glad I tried the Sake Sangria that night, because now I have a new trick in my patio drinks arsenal. If you’ve never tried it, sake basically tastes like wine, but a little more intense. I used Hakutsuru junmai ginjo sake, and to me it tastes like a cross between merlot and vodka. I’m probably enraging some sake aficionados out there, but I’m allowed to plead ignorance if I share a delicious cocktail recipe with you, right? RIGHT?
This version of sangria has a bit more kick than the regular stuff. Sure, you’ve got your red wine and fruit and all that, but then the sake’s there to give you a playful jab while still keeping the whole thing silky smooooooooooth. The sangria-soaked berries are dangerously delish and pack a feisty punch, so watch out! And now, my friends, kanpai (bottoms up)! ;)
- ½ cup red wine (I used Merlot)
- 3 tablespoons sake
- Juice of half an orange
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Blueberries, raspberries, orange & lemon slices, to serve
- Ice cubes, to serve
- ¼ to ½ cup sparkling water
- Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- Mint leaves (optional)
- Mix the wine, sake, orange juice and sugar in a wine glass, then drop in however much fresh fruit you like. Add ice cubes and top up with sparkling water. Finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few mint leaves.