Two-Drink Review: The Toki Smash and Blackberry Sour

A paper drink umbrella may be powerless against a hailstorm of competing beverage toppers, such as the mighty skewer of meatballs, the plastic sword of sliders, or a strategically placed marshmallow Peep. However, I’ve discovered a “pro-tip” from the local China Dynasty restaurant on a recent date night with my husband: sometimes, just a thick curl of citrus peel adds interest and curiosity. After enough sips of my Toki Smash, and blackberry sour, I decided that the lemon and orange peels resembled the following:

  • paper cranes escaping a flood of whiskey
  • the cat, climbing into the bathtub
  • a gondola on an iceberg
  • a tiny raft for the cashew appetizer
  • a bridge connecting my husband’s drink to mine

I don’t think a paper umbrella, or a stack of sliders, could accomplish this feat. Also, I really liked the drinks I ordered.  The Toki Smash consisted of Toki Japanese whiskey, lemon juice, mint, simple syrup, and ginger honey. The combination was smashingly refreshing.

The blackberry sour was also delicious, but I was a little concerned because it included Chambord as an ingredient. A “globe” of Chambord once sat in our refrigerator when I was a teenager—for months. Dad had used it to impress his boss at work, who was having a dessert competition. My dad’s plan was to cover ice cream in Chambord and light it on fire.

“Did it work?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah, that f*cker went up in flames,” he said.

“Did it taste good?”

“I thought so,” he said. And he proceeded to pour some Chambord onto the ice cream, and I tasted it, deciding that other toppings, such as meatball sliders, would have been better.

So, I asked him: “Did you win?”

“No,” he said, “but my dessert was the only one that caught on fire.” And that was all that mattered.

Throughout the summer, though, Dad tried to use up the globe of Chambord by basting chicken, steaks, and shrimp with it while grilling, or pouring just a teaspoon over our ice cream when we weren’t looking. Over time, it turned color in our refrigerator and thickened into a filmy consistency, so you will understand my hesitation when ordering my blackberry sour. However, while I did taste the Chambord, I also tasted blackberry, citrus, and other combinations which balanced the drink and made it exciting. It did not need to be lit on fire at all.

My takeaways from this experience, then, are the following: Stabbing a sandwich through the heart and sticking it on a drink is not always necessary; sometimes Chambord is not bad; fires don’t win contests, but they do make an impression; paper drink umbrellas offer shade on lemon-peel gondola trips.

Cecilia Kennedy once taught Spanish and English courses in Ohio for many years. She now lives in the Greater Seattle area, and writes horror stories. Her blog (Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks: chronicles her humorous (and perhaps scary?) attempts at cooking and home repair. 

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