This is going to sound self-absorbed considering the state of the world, but hear me out – I think I jinxed myself freshman year. My 19th birthday had the misfortune of landing smack-dab in the middle of the week on a weary Wednesday and featured a research proposal interview, event coverage and the longest senate meeting so far that year. At the time, I bemoaned my situation and lack of ability to properly celebrate with friends and family; the auxiliaries of premature or delayed festivities on the weekend just don’t have the same appeal. Instead, I put my hopes on the sought-after Friday and Saturday for my 20th and 21st birthdays, respectively. It seemed far away at the time, but for 2021, I envisioned getting my first Beaver and commemorative T-shirt at Ted’s, bar-hopping to Huskies and Tav and making my first purchase at the liquor store(s). Well, my day of legal consumption has come — this Saturday, April 10 — but I can’t necessarily party it up in the way I intended. (Let’s not talk about the fairly somber event that was my 20th birthday.) Nonetheless, I’m not going to let my unrealistic expectations damper my hopes. Despite the stressful nature of the past year, things are looking up; more people are getting vaccinated thanks to wider availability, we’re hoping for a safe return to in-person operations at UConn in the fall and things might be falling in place for my senior year.
With that long-winded intro, let’s get into the meat (or the sweets) of my column today. Cake is the quintessential birthday food, yet it’s universally known that people will indulge in other treats in addition, whether because of preference, sentiment or both. I love cake, but as a foodie, I must admit my partiality towards the other deserving desserts, which I will feature here. And, as I’m turning 21, it’s only fitting I present a wish list of the drinks I’ve been wanting to try. So, without further ado, here are the drinks and desserts I will dream about for my 21st year around the sun.
Espresso martini (and other coffee-flavored concoctions)
Even before I became a regular coffee drinker during quarantine, I knew I would become just as much of an addict as most of my family, considering my fondness for the flavor — and I was right. This cocktail made with vodka, espresso, coffee liquor and simple syrup caught my eye for a classy, sweet dessert drink. I also certainly wouldn’t object to other coffee-liqueur-infused drinks with Kahlua and Bailey’s.
Who wouldn’t love a birthday bun? Cinnamon buns are perhaps my favorite sweet, and those from Cinnabon are the best in the business — not just from a chain, but in general. The generous proportion of cinnamon butter swirled into the pastry and the rich, tangy cream cheese frosted on top creates a very indulgent treat. However, I may have to defer to these ube sweet rolls from B Sweet Dessert Bar in Los Angeles for a change. As a Filipina, it’s only fitting I’m an ube fiend, and I know the creamy, nutty taste will shine as a gooey filling.
Everyone has a fruity drink they’re fond of, but I figure I should try the classic boozy brunch pick. As I see it, champagne is a necessity for a celebration, and I was addicted to orange juice as a child, so endless mimosas are the dream drink of young Hollie.
Out of the more classic desserts, cookies have my heart. They’re so unassuming and humble, yet serve as a vessel of that desirable crisp outside, melty inside that so many other foods strive to achieve. You can toss any combination of ingredients and flavors into these discs of deliciousness, from a comforting classic of chocolate chip to boujee bakery-style pistachio sea salt, what-have-you. But I long for the day I try the legendary goliath cookies from Levain’s, a New York staple.
Long Island Iced Tea
As a newbie, you couldn’t have expected me to know there’s not iced tea in this drink. I don’t think I could have guessed the combination of liquids in it, though — vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec, sour mix and a splash of Coke? I have no idea how that will taste, but I definitely am tempted to try.
Honorable mentions: Sex on the beach, affogato sundae from Caffe Panna, scorpion bowl, slutty brownies and wine tasting.
Have suggestions for what I should add to my featured foods? Don’t be afraid to dish it out.