A long time ago, in a far away land there lived a beautiful princess and her handsome prince….. well sort of, but don’t you just love a good fairy tale beginning!
Right after I graduated University, my love (of only a year at that point) and I set out to see the world and experience a little adventure. We landed in our new home some 10,000 kilometers away in Osaka, Japan. This is where we shacked up together for the first time in our itsy-bitsy Japanese-style apartment, complete with itsy-bitsy furniture and the not so itsy-bitsy rumble of the frequently passing trains. Now I would love to say we settled right into our foreign life without a hitch, but what would a good fairy tale be without a little drama?
The first two months after we landed were plagued with homesickness, culture-shock, and a standard of living I am so blessed to say I have never experienced before, or after this low point in my life. Alone, without the support of our friends and family, and with a crankiness that can only be brought on after weeks of subsiding on sticky white rice alone, our relationship started to take a hit. We took the stress out on each other, which only perpetuated the loneliness for us both.
A bright light thankfully came at the end of November, in the form of a paycheque; our first one in two months to allow us the pleasure of a little spending money. With the Christmas season upon us, and homesickness at a fever pitch, we headed to the western import store in search of a little festive solace from home.
I can now safely say that this tiny import store nestled in the Namba neighbourhood of Osaka saved our relationship. For you see, within its cramped confines was an abundance of inexpensive alcohol; something of an anomaly to two kids from Ontario. We stocked up on Bailey’s, Kahlua, Crown Royal, Smirnoff, and Beefeater gin, and lugged our stash home to celebrate. Celebrate what? at that point, I really can’t remember, but our cocktail creations seemed to take the edge off all the bad things that had clouded our relationship in our early J-Adventure days. The bickering stopped, the stress melted away, and we remembered why we fell in love with each other in first place.
Ten years later, we still pay homage to this wonderful celebration. Affectionately known as “Bender Month”, we head to the liquor store and stock up on the goods that help us make the holiday season merry. After a decade, what started as an alcohol fueled party has now come to mean so much more. Bender Month isn’t about being drunk everyday or even imbibing a daily cocktail, it’s about celebrating with those you love. Too often this season gets bogged down with things.; the gifts, the stress, the guilt of indulging in countless cheese platters or Christmas cookies. What Bender Month brings is a reminder to just have fun, and enjoy the company of those you love, indulge in what makes you happy, and enjoy every festive moment. After all, it comes and goes in the blink of an eye.
Kicking off this year’s fun is a recipe for a classic champagne cocktail. A recipe taken from my wonderful mother-in-law, who taught me the joy in starting all celebrations with a signature drink.
Happy Bender Month!
Eileen’s Champagne Cocktail
1 x sugar cube
1 x splash of Brandy
1 x orange slice
Champagne or bubbles of choice
- Place sugar cube in bottom of champagne coupe or martini glass
- Add a splash of brandy
- Top with champagne and an orange slice