Saturday, May 27, 2017

Here's To Good Ole' College

A toast this week to my alma mater and the class of 1992 who are gathering back on campus for our twenty-fifth year reunion.  Haverford College is a special place set in the beatific landscape of the Philadelphia suburbs on a unique arboretum campus.  Founded in 1833 by Quakers who wished to provide education equaled by respect, tolerance, and attention to the whole human experience, Haverford is now a highly regarded non-sectarian co-ed liberal arts college. Amidst the four hundred plus species of trees and shrubs, students embrace academic and artistic achievements under the umbrella of the honor code, which was originally written by students, remains governed by students, and guides the lives of all in the pursuit of mutual respect and trust.  Decisions on campus are made by consensus, not majority, a process which has left an indelible mark on all who are fortunate enough to have participated in it. 

Haverford Harmony

To my classmates who are new to Boxes and Booze, the premise is simple.  A puzzle box is paired with a cocktail and each is described in some detail.  Why is this fascinating and worth your time?  A puzzle box is a metaphor for life itself, and for all of our searches for meaning and solutions.  Each one is unique, and beautiful, and different, each with a story to tell.  Some are simple, some complex, some have never been opened, some are damaged, some stuck.  Some are so familiar and we know just how to move them.  And some we simply marvel at and admire the way they work.  Cocktails, meanwhile, can tell us where we’ve been, and maybe where we are going.  The history of the world is written in spirits, after all, and they are how we mark life’s journeys when we raise our glass.  So here’s to boxes and booze, a celebration of ourselves.

Acorn Box by Hiroshi Iwahara

For the Haverford reunion, I selected a box which symbolizes a few things uniquely Haverfordian.  The acorn box, by Japanese artist Hiroshi Iwahara of the Karakuri Creation Group, is a simple affair, unassuming with a little wooden acorn adorning the top.  Simple in appearance and with only one secret move required to open, it embraces the Quaker philosophy of simplicity.  The Friends, as Quakers are known colloquially, try to uphold the expression “live simply, so others may simply live” in their daily lives.  Their tenets include pacifism, social equality, stewardship of the planet and integrity.  The acorn box is crafted of wood from oak, ginkgo, katsura, enjyu, and pao rosa trees – a few of which have representation on Haverford’s arboretum campus.  Finally the acorn is symbolic of Haverford’s beloved mascot, the black squirrel.  These unusually pigmented animals have the run of the grounds and enjoy an impassioned fan club.

The Bitter Ford

For the booze I teamed up with former suite – mates Jason Goldstein and Michael Haley Goldman to create the unofficial class of 1992 reunion cocktails. The first is a variation on the Negroni, that incredible, classic cocktail of which I am so fond.  It’s just in time for Negroni Week, too (June 5-11).  We present the “Bitter Ford”, a toast to alums not coming to the reunion.  It’s bitter, of course, thanks to the Campari, but tempered by the Luxardo liqueur evoking the sweet memory of campus life and the illusion that the honor code existed in real life. 

Founder's Green

If you’re not feeling it, though, have something much more classic, and head back to 1833 where it all started, on the steps of Founder’s Hall (the only building that existed back then).  Stretch out on the grass and recall a time when you were still impressionable, had dreams, had undyed hair (or hair at all), and maybe hadn’t figured it all out just yet. Of course this drink has to be an Old Fashioned, with a little nuance to make it special.  From Michael: “Remember that feeling of warm sunshine on Founder’s green, when you were supposed to be in Organic Chem (insert most daunting class from your major here)? And then when you get to class (late) and feel like Professor Wintner has smashed your brain with the hammer in his left hand while wiping your memory of all useful information with the wire brush in his right hand? This drink gives you all those feeling in one glass.”  Sip the “Founder’s Green” while you recall those fond days and don’t despair – your kids can go to Haverford and relive it all for you.  Here’s to the class of ’92, may you all be happy, healthy and loved.  Cheers!

Cheers, Friends

The Bitter Ford:

1 oz Ford’s Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Maraschino liqueur

Stir together with ice and strain into a favorite glass (or plastic party cup). Garnish with bitter romantic failures of freshman year.


Founder’s Green

2 oz bourbon
½ oz Green Chartreuse
¼ oz maple syrup

Stir together with ice and strain into a favorite glass over unrelenting dreams of being unprepared for finals.



For more about Haverford College:

For more about Hiroshi Iwahara:

For the Haverford College cocktail:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Call Me Old Fashioned

Happy World Whisky Day!  This holiday really takes me back.  All the way to Babylon and Mesopotamia in 2000 BC! Evidence of fermented, distilled grain (whisky!) exists from archaeological sites in the middle east dating all the way back to those ancient times.  There’s a rich history which follows, but let’s fast forward three thousand years to about 1000 AD when Irish and Scottish monks began to ferment grain mash and introduced what we know today as “modern” whisky – and gave us the name we now use as well.  

Whisky Bottle by Akio Kamei

It's no wonder some experience “whisky” as a holy experience, considering the name is derived from the Gaelic (the Celtic language spoken in the Scottish Highlands) “uisge beatha” – the “water of life”.  Drink enough of that water and it’ll kill you.  Ironies aside, a thousand years ago getting drunk might have been as close to heaven on earth as you got. Early American pioneers brought the water with them and adopted the Irish spelling, with an “e”: whiskey.  In the mid nineteenth century, a corn whiskey using the Kentucky style of fermentation and distillation was first labeled “Bourbon whiskey”.  Some suggest this American term came from New Orleans, where Bourbon Street was the place to get your whiskey fix – but the street might well have been named for the spirit, like the chicken and the egg.

Keeping its secrets bottled up

What better puzzle to celebrate World Whisky Day than Akio Kamei’s Whisky Bottle.  One of his earlier creations, the Whisky Bottle doesn’t need much in the way of explanation.  It’s a wooden bottle, of course, and hides two secret compartments.  The first should not be hard to find, but the second is trickier and requires some thinking outside the bottle.  This is classic Kamei in the way he creates puzzles which challenge your basic assumptions.  It’s also a gloriously perfect Boxes and Booze puzzle box, and of course I love it.  Let’s have a whisky cocktail, shall we?

The Old Fashioned c. 1800

For this old fashioned spirit we will have an Old Fashioned cocktail.  I’ve discussed this one before a few times, but here’s the original, in its purest original form, and how it got there.  Cocktails in general evolved from the medicinal tonics created by old time pharmacists and known in general as “bitters”. These were the miracle elixirs which would work wonders.  You could stop by for a shot of these herbal, bitter concoctions, perhaps diluted with some water to make them more palatable.  Add a little sugar, more palatable.  It didn’t take long for someone to throw in a bit of spirit too, and viola, the first cocktail was likely consumed in America sometime in the very early 1800s, as the precursor to the “Old Fashioned”. 

Never handle another man's muddler (or go right ahead, whatever you prefer)

While the cocktail is arguably an American invention, its origins existed a century earlier in England. The concept of the cocktail was present in London in the early 1700’s already, where bitter elixirs where being mixed with sweet wine or brandy.  And the name, “cocktail” was likely derived from Britain as well.  The cocktail historian David Wondrich, who has searched for the term’s provenance for decades, explains this bit of wacky parlance, which was discovered in a satirical political cartoon from a 1798 London newspaper.  Cocktail was slang for “ginger”, which in turn referred to a stimulant added to a drink in order to lift ones spirit and energy.  Ginger or hot pepper usually did the trick.  The term “cocktail” came from the practice, by horse dealers of the day, to place a bit of ginger up the horse’s rear, thus making it cock its tail and appear spirited, which made it appear more valuable.  Drink recipes adapted the term, suggesting the addition of a pinch or two of “cock-tail”, and that term replaced “ginger” over time.  And there you have it, the too absurd to not be true story of why we call it a “cocktail.”  Cheers?

These two are quite old fashioned

The Old Fashioned

2 oz of your favorite whisk(e)y
1 brown sugar cube
Angostura bitters
Ice

Place the sugar cube into a mixing glass and saturate with the bitters.  Muddle together, then add the whiskey and ice. Stir to dilute and chill, then strain into a favorite glass.  Garnish with a brandied cherry, an orange wedge, or just keep it plain and simple.

For prior Old Fashioned variations see:

For more about Akio Kamei see:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pillows and Potions

Boxes and Booze is on the road, traveling a bit over the next few weeks.  It seems like a good time to bring out my travel pillow.  This one is from Kyoko Hoshino, one of the very few women crafting puzzle boxes today.  She is a current member of the Karakuri Creation Group from Japan.  She learned the art of kimono making early in her career and applies that skill to her woodworking now - her boxes are unique in their use of cloth and adornments.  Of course she would make a pillow box.

Travel Pillow by Kyoko Hoshino

Wood, leather and ceramic pillows were used throughout the ages in Asia and other regions to support the head and neck.  The geishas of Japan slept on “makura” which supported the neck and kept their elaborate hairstyles intact, for example.  These neck pillows do not appear to have been very comfortable, but I’ve been told that beauty and comfort do not usually go together.  Wooden pillow boxes were commonly used to store valuables as well, kept safely under head at night.  In the Edo period, Japanese travelers and merchants would use similar wooden pillow boxes to store traveling items such as a mirror, an abacus, and even a lantern, with additional secret spaces for documents or money.  These became the impetus for the original puzzle boxes which came out of the Odawara region in Japan over a hundred years ago, the current home of the Karakuri Creation Group.  Hoshino’s lovely recreation is a simpler affair and a bit too small to rest your head upon, but it does include two separate secret chambers and a wonderfully soft velvety top cushion – surely a luxury not seen often in the ancient days.

All the comforts of home while on the road

Let’s sip on something sleepy and equally luxuriant to compliment this travel pillow.  This one comes via star mixologist Joaquin Simo, one of the original bartenders from New York’s innovative Death & Company who has done his share of traveling, including to receive the Best American Bartender of the Year award at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012.   I’ve featured his creations before, including the iconic “Naked and Famous”.  

Pillow Talk by Joaquin Simo

Here, in his “Pillow Talk”, he serves up a complex variation on the Sloe Gin Fizz, another classic I have featured before.  In this version, fresh grapefruit adds a sweet zing and the unique Crème Yvette layers a subtle scent of lavender into the mix.  Cue the jazz, dim the lights, and get cozy.  Cheers!

These pillows can keep a secret

Pillow Talk by Joaquin Simo, Death & Co.

1.5 ounces Beefeater 24 Gin
.25 ounce Plymouth Sloe Gin
.25 ounce Crème Yvette
.75 ounce Grapefruit Juice
.5 teaspoon Vanilla Syrup
Sparkling Rosé

Shake together with ice and strain into a champagne flute. Top with the sparkling wine and whisper sweet nothings all night long.

For more about Kyoko Hoshino see:

For the Naked and Famous cocktail:


For the Sloe Gin Fizz:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Downsizing

I’m reducing the size of this installment of Boxes and Booze, yet keeping all the content.   Things appear to start out as usual, but by the end get edited down to the essence.  It’s like my college English professor used to say - I’m “cutting the dross”.  I’m particularly fond of the Karakuri Creation Group, as you likely surmised by now.  Let’s call them the “KCG” for brevity.  They like to push the envelope on possibilities for a puzzle box.  

Shrinking Box by Hiroshi Iwahara and Tatsuo Miyamoto

Many years ago they produced a set called the “Creative Secret Box” series which explored highly unusual and novel opening mechanisms. Number five in the series, the “Shrinking Box”, expands the concept, by minimizing it.  The idea of a box which needs to literally shrink in order to open is simply fascinating to me, and apparently to Hiroshi Iwahara, who designed it, and Tatsuo Miyamoto, who crafted it, as well.  Iwahara suggested that this was the limit of “negative space” for him at the time, but kept the possibility open for a future expansion of the contraction.

You need to think inside the box ...

The idea of the shrinking space void which then opens is too reminiscent of worm holes, black holes and science fiction in general to be ignored.  Let’s ponder these mysteries at an uber cool bar built for cocktail geeks known as Jupiter Disco in Brooklyn, New York.  The brainy love child of Maks Pazuniak and Al Sotack, the layout was designed with the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars and the Blade Runner bar in mind.  

Negative Space by Maks Pazuniak

Here’s the “Negative Space” cocktail, sure to mess with your gravity.  It’s a mix of floral French Suze aperitif, lemon juice, licorice and, of course, chocolate, wrapped up with a sparkle.  It might cause you to go interstellar.  Enjoy it as you watch the volume in your glass magically shrink.  Cheers.

These two fill a void

Negative Space by Maks Pazuniak

½ oz. Suze aperitif
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. crème de cacao
¼ oz. absinthe blanc
1 drop orange flower water
3 oz. chilled prosecco

Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into a tall glass.  Top with the prosecco and garnish with a Jupiter Disco Ball.

For more about the KCG:
For a prior Creative Secret Box:

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fruits of Labor

Many of the creations which have graced these pages over the past two years are the works of dedicated, professional puzzle makers.  A few, on the other hand, have been the product of passionate and often highly skilled hobbyists, who make a few copies in their spare time when not doing their day jobs.  The quality woodwork of some of these “hobbyists” is simply astounding.  One elusive fellow whose work I had not had the pleasure of experiencing before is Stephen Chin, the mild mannered dentist from Australia.  He is prolific in his side hobby, and while he only produces a few copies of each new creation, he has invented dozens of designs over the years.  He is particularly well known for his skill with the lathe, with which he creates beautifully turned tops, eggs, and spheres.  He is also known for his quirky and devilish sense of humor.  For example, he once designed a puzzle called “Ze house of mouse ze duong” – or simple, “Mouse House” which is a little house with a mouse (or rat) inside.  You have to stick your finger into the mouse’s house to open the puzzle and release the mouse, but when you do, the mouse bites you!  Quite literally – he has placed a trap inside.  If that wasn’t bad enough, he has installed a tiny electronic speaker inside which then activates and proceeds to laugh at you.  Somehow, Stephen still manages to retain all of his friends.  He even encourages others along this – wait for it – “psycho-path”.  Just see my review of Shane Hale’s “Viper” puzzle, which was inspired by Mouse House, for such an example.

1 Pinko Ringo by Stephen Chin

As luck would have it, I recently got to enjoy a few of Stephen Chin’s amazing pieces through a friend who is extremely generous with lending out his precious puzzles.  One of these was a rare and radiant apple with very few copies in existence.  As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the dentist away.  Stephen Chin’s “1 Pinko Ringo” (don’t ask me how he comes up with these names), is a lovely wooden apple with an unusual flavor.  It’s based on the designer Wayne Daniel’s original icosahedron puzzles, in which a perfect twenty sided polyhedron shape is composed of ten identical pieces, half of which are mirror images of the other half.  As he likes to do, Chin converted that original design into a spherical shape – in this case, an apple.  Spin the apple around a few times and watch out!  All ten pieces come flying apart and land in a jumble – oh no!  Thankfully, due to the shape of the apple motif, and the colorful exotic woods used in the puzzle, it is not as difficult as it seems to decipher which pieces go with which others.   The really hard part is determining how to coordinate all ten pieces back into place so it all holds together again.  Figure that out and you’ll be the teacher’s pet.  This is a wonderfully elegant, beautifully crafted puzzle which showcases this master “hobbyist’s” remarkable skill.

Ze Orange by Stephen Chin

Ah, but isn’t this a blog about puzzle boxes? Now we’ve been over that and I’m allowed to digress from time to time.  But since you mentioned it, here’s Stephen Chin’s “Ze Orange”, a double compartment puzzle box full of masterful turns (see what I did there?).  This time the fruits of his labor have yielded an orange, complete with a silver stem.  It’s a lovely piece of art and would be perfectly satisfying as an exceptionally skillful bit of wood turning, complete with textured skin.  But orange you more curious than that?  There are many layers, and once you have peeled them back (I can’t help myself) you discover two compartments inside, which contain equally lovely examples of his lathe skills.  As he often does, Stephen has left a few handwritten notes inside this copy, indicating the orange includes wood from his cypress tree.  There are objects to be found as well, which turn this puzzle into one of discovery, and it’s unlikely these little treasures are simply there by accident … Everything has its purpose and is extremely well thought out, right down to the final tinny electronic chorus.  This puzzle provides some freshly squeezed fun and is good to the last drop.

The Royal Smile circa 1930

Here’s a fitting toast to my colleague across the world, who has made me smile with his marvelously whimsical creations (and to my friend who was so generous to share them).  I imagine that the name of this old classic cocktail, “The Royal Smile”, will resonate with Stephen Chin both professionally and personally.  Based on another old classic, the “Jack Rose”, which I have featured previously, the Royal Smile adds gin to the delicious mix of apple brandy, lemon juice and grenadine.  These drinks were popular in the era surrounding Prohibition, and the earliest recipe for the Royal Smile is found in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, 1930.  Here I’ve substituted the lemon juice for orange juice, so the cocktail has an apple and an orange, just this once.  Either way, it will make you smile.  Drink a few and you might very well start to hear odd electronic noises emanating from your glass, too.  Cheers!
 
Sure to make you smile

The Royal Smile circa 1930

* The Juice of ¼ Lemon (or substitute fresh squeezed orange)
* ¼ Grenadine
* ½ Applejack or Calvados
* ¼ Dry Gin

Shake well with ice, strain into cocktail glass, and smile!

Comparing Apples to Oranges here ...

For the Jack Rose cocktail see:

For Shane Hale’s “Viper” puzzle see:

Hmmm ... Ze Koala appears to be mocking you ... Can you make his eyes light up?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pyramid Scheme

Here at Boxes and Booze we seldom get boxed in, and certainly not into a corner.  Take a standard cube, for example, with its six faces, eight vertices and twelve edges.  If we cut off all the corners, we have an entirely different object – a cube octahedron or a vector equilibrium, to name a few names.  The inherent “cube-ness” of the object remains, though, depending on how you slice it, and the six “sides” that make up this cube take on their own interesting polyhedral shapes.  So it’s not much of a stretch (is it?) to consider a perfect pentagonal  dodecahedron which is named “Pyramid”.  What I mean is, consider the dodecahedron – a polyhedron with twelve perfect pentagonal faces (and twenty vertices and thirty edges).  It would be possible, depending on how you sliced it, to reveal the inherent “cube-ness” in such an object.  Just imagine an actual cube sitting perfectly inside the docdecahedron.  Now separate each piece of the dodecahedron along the planes of the cube faces.  Slide one of the sections off entirely and you will be holding a pyramid.

Pyramid Box by Hideaki Kawashima

The Pyramid Box by Hideaki Kawashima represents a full circle of craft, creation, invention, reflection, and recreation by this Karakuri Creation Group artist.  His very first puzzle box for the group was the “Regular dodecahedron box”, consisting of six turning sides built in the shape of a dodecahedron, with a minimum of six moves required to open.  It took over 8 years and over thirty puzzle box designs for him to develop the skills and insight to finally create the box he had originally envisioned.  Pyramid box is that achievement, an homage to his first box and a realization of his vision.  The mechanism for Pyramid is identical to his POD box, which takes its name from the design on its surface plates.  This was so that no hint was given from the name itself.  That concept is taken even further in the Pyramid version, which does away with any visual clues on the puzzle itself as well.  Pyramid is elegant, brilliant, extremely challenging and so easy to get lost in as you navigate the many moves needed for it to open.  It is a masterwork of design, a worthy compliment to this artist’s achievements, and a fitting tribute to his beginnings.  You might say it’s his apex.  His capstone.  His pinnacle.  Or the top of his pyramid.

Twelve pentagons ... or six pyramids?

 From Kawashima’s golden pyramid we head back in time to the second half of the nineteenth century, when gold discovered in San Francisco created a mad rush to the west coast in search of more.   Panning was hard, dirty and dangerous work, which called for a well-earned beverage at the end of a hot day (or at the beginning, too, I’m sure).  Everyone headed to the legendary Bank Exchange bar, situated where the Transamerica pyramid building now stands, for its world renowned Pisco Punch.  Pisco, a type of funky clear brandy, had been brought up from South America by Peruvian and Chilean prospectors, and found glory in the tightly held, secret recipe for the punch made famous at the Bank Exchange.  The bar’s owners took the recipe to their graves, but the bar manager eventually revealed it, and the California Historical Society published it in 1973.   

Pyramid Punch by Simon Difford

In Rudyard Kipling's 1889 epic From Sea to Sea, he immortalized Pisco Punch as being "compounded of the shavings of cherub's wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters".  Indeed.  The spirits writer Simon Difford, who started the very first spirits trade journal, “CLASS” in the late 1990’s, created this variation of the classic in 2006, which he called “Pyramid Punch” in reference to the site of the former Bank Exchange bar where Pisco Punch was born.  Here’s to striking gold, celebrating the present with a nod to the past, and finding the peaks on the pyramid of life.  Cheers!

These pyramids pack a punch

Pyramid Punch by Simon Difford

2 oz pisco (BarSol Mosto Verde Italia)
1 oz elderflower liqueur (St. Germain)
2 oz fresh pressed pineapple juice
½ oz fresh grapefruit juice
2 cloves

Muddle cloves in a mixing tin. Shake together with all other ingredients and ice to chill, strain into a tall glass.  Pineapple garnish.  Enjoy with a mouth guard if you can’t take a punch.


For more about Hideaki Kawashima see:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What's Knot to Love?

This is not a typical box and booze review.  I should actually say that this is knot.  First of all, I’m going to take us back in history to the ancient Greeks and the time of Alexander the Great.  Second of all, I’m going to cut through all that nonsense with a mighty stroke of the pen.  Just go with it, it will all make sense in a moment.

Gordian Knot by Robert Yarger and Rick Jenkins

The legend of the Gordian Knot dates back to ancient Macedonia, when a prophecy telling of a man driving an oxcart into the capital city of Phrygia came true and Gordia became king.  His son, Midas (a touchy fellow), offered the famed oxcart to the god Zeus in gratitude and secured it in the town square with an intricate, complicated knot which could never be untied.  The rope was made from Cornel bark of the Cornelian cherry tree, a flowering species of dogwood which produces little red fruits.  In 333 B.C., Alexander of Macedonia, the great conqueror of ancient Greece, entered the city of Gordium and learned of the prophesy that whoever could unravel the knot was destined to rule all of Asia.  Truth be told, he could not untie it, but he had better idea.  The “Alexandrian Solution” ensued, whereby he cleaved the great knot in two with a swift stroke of his sword.

Beautiful interwoven strands of exotic wood

Fast forward two thousand plus years and we have the “Yarger Solution”, which definitely frowns upon the use of any sharp object to untie this knot.  The Gordian Knot is Number 22 in the Stickman puzzlebox series, and like its legendary ancestor, has cords of wood which wrap around the box in an intricately interwoven pattern.  The inspiration for this box came from the idea of making a sliding tile puzzle which literally wrapped itself all around the sides of a box and was not merely limited to a single flat surface.  Add to that the interlocking nature of these 130 intertwined pieces, crafted from leftover bits of exotic wood from prior puzzle boxes, and you have the visually stunning and deceptively difficult Gordian Knot puzzlebox.  There are a minimum of 36 steps to discover along the way, including a few pieces which are released completely from the box as it untangles itself.  Most moves are quite difficult to determine and may be found on another side of the box entirely from the move prior.  Some moves are incredibly well disguised due to the shape of the piece, or the solver’s (misguided) expectations. Eventually, if you are as wise as Alexander, a keyhole will be revealed.  Ah, but where is the key? It’s likely that you have it already, waiting to be reconfigured from the pieces you have removed off of the box.  The finale of this box, which is a true joy to solve up to this point already, is absolutely outstanding. The Gordian Knot is one of the most satisfying puzzle boxes I have experienced and is easily one of my all time favorites from Robert Yarger.

The Alexandrian Solution

For such a special box I have an equally special toast which also hearkens back to ancient days.  The cornelian cherry tree, whose bark was used to make the original Gordian Knot, produces little red berries as mentioned.  The flavor of this fruit has been described as a cross between cranberry and sour cherry.  Of course, there is a long history of using this fruit in the making of various regional liqueurs and spirits in parts of the Middle East and Europe.  For example, “kornelkirsch” is found in the Austrian and German Alps.  Since it’s not readily available in the US, I created my own cornel berry kirsch by infusing cranberry liqueur with sour amarena cherries.  Mmmmmm. Not content with just the delicious liqueur, I created a variation of a classic cocktail called “The Last Word”.  The history of this pre-prohibition era drink places it as early as 1916, where it was featured for 35 cents as the most expensive cocktail on the menu at the Detroit Athletic Club.  The Last Word is a perfectly balanced cocktail using equal portions of gin, green Chartreuse,  maraschino liqueur and lime juice.  There are literally hundreds of variations using this basic template, although not all are as perfect.  I love the combination of smoky mezcal with cherries, so in my version, “The Alexandrian Solution”, mezcal meets cornel kirsch and the rest is history.  Cheers!

It's the Last Word in Macedonian Cocktails ...

The Alexandrian Solution

¾ oz mezcal
¾ oz sour cherry infused cranberry liqueur
¾ oz green Chartreuse
¾ oz fresh lime juice

Shake together over ice and strain into a favorite glass.  Commence dispensing with complex problems brilliantly.

Complexity knotwithstanding, these solutions are elegant

For more about Robert Yarger:

For prior Stickman puzzles see: