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Colleen Katana

Colleen Katana is a romance novelist by day and a cocktail reviewer by night. She lives in Portland where she can usually be found hunched over her laptop, wearing fabulous (albeit sometimes impractical) shoes. Instagram: katanacollins

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Posted: October 9, 2017

If you like sake, try a cocktail at Aki in Brunswick

Written by: Colleen Katana
Outside Aki in Brunswick's Maine Street. Photos by Colleen Katana

Outside Aki in Brunswick’s Maine Street.
Photos by Colleen Katana

While in Brunswick a few weeks ago, I found myself searching for a place to kill some time before seeing a show in town. A lot of the places I passed by weren’t quite right for what I wanted — like “Goldilocks and the Three Bars.” This one was too cold. This one was too hot. This one was too loud, this other too quiet. Until finally, I hit it just right with Aki.

I love sake cocktails of all sorts: sake martinis, sake cosmopolitans, sake sunrises, etc. I find that sake blends really well into flavors and creates a nice base for the drink.

Inside of Aki, the space was large with two bar areas. Simply decorated, with wood and black granite accessories, the ambiance was nice, if not a little generic. But the bar was clean and the staff, friendly. The large menu offered so many choices and, with only a short time before my friend and I had to run to make curtain, we found ourselves paralyzed with options.

There are two bars at Aki and a nightclub downstairs.

There are two bars at Aki and a nightclub downstairs.

If I had one complaint up front, it’s that the cocktail menu doesn’t describe the drinks. It simply gives you the name of the drink (from which, yes, on average, I could probably guess what would be in it), but one of the things I love about a cocktail menu is reading the different mixtures and creations of the bar. After asking our server about what was in some of the drinks (she didn’t know and had to ask), I settled on the Lychee Saketini ($10), which I was told had literally only two ingredients: sake and lychee syrup.

The Lychee Saketini is sake and lychee syrup for $10.

The Lychee Saketini is sake and lychee syrup for $10.

It was sweet, like liquid candy in a martini glass. I was fully expecting to be served an insulin shot directly after, as well. But don’t get me wrong; it was also delicious. Since most of the sake I enjoy isn’t naturally that sweet, it caught me off guard, and I sort of forgot it had alcohol. Much like how I would eat my entire basket of Halloween candy as a child in one sitting, I drank the whole thing rather quickly, without even realizing.

My friend ordered a glass of the Bex Riesling ($8), which was dive-bombed by a fly as she lifted the glass to take a drink. Obviously, this wasn’t Aki’s fault, but the bartender was lovely and gracious about pouring her a new glass of the crisp wine. As for the wine itself, it was balanced and dry with notes of apple and pear.

For bites, I ordered the avocado salad ($5), which is hard to get wrong and Aki didn’t disappoint. The vegetables were fresh and crisp, and the ginger dressing was creamy and delicious. I also ordered the black pepper tuna tataki ($10), because I couldn’t leave Aki without trying some semblance of their fish. It was delightfully flavorful. The heavily spiced, seared edge of the tuna complimented my favorite fish, and it was served over greens with a soy glaze (though perhaps a little too much of the glaze, as the greens wilted after a few minutes).

Overall, this was the perfect, quiet venue for a quick drink and bite — nice, without being pretentious or overly fancy. The drinks were good (especially if you like a dessert cocktail), the food was excellent, and the prices were an inexpensive surprise.

If you end up having an especially good time at Aki on a Friday or Saturday night, you don’t even have to leave the building to keep the party going at MyTie Lounge, a nightclub with dancing, billiards and more cocktails downstairs from the restaurant.

Aki

WHERE: 94 Maine St., Brunswick
PHONE: (207) 729-8866
WEBSITE: akijapanesecuisine.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, MyTie Lounge 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
AMENITIES: Lunch, dinner, full bar, hibachi grill, takeout, downstairs nightclub two nights a week
BOTTOM LINE: Aki is a solid choice for a drink and some sushi (or hibachi, if you’re in the mood). Great for an affordable night that won’t compromise on quality.

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