Saturday, August 27, 2016

Great Scott!

I’ve gone “on location” for a write up a few times before, to favorite bars where the cocktail pairing was made by the house.  I brought the puzzle boxes along for the ride and set them up at the bar or on a table.  I’ve even toted a puzzle to the beaches of Hawaii (Perry McDaniel’s Hawaiian High Jinks) for a write up.  Last year I made a cocktail on location but still brought the box, at a Houston “puzzle party” based in the home of Robert Sandfield.  This time while on location things were a little different – I hadn’t planned it but there was a box that I just had to write about.  I wasn’t sure when or if I’d get another chance to see it, being one of the only two copies in existence.  At the recent Rochester Puzzle Picnic (RPP) hosted by Jeff Aurand, Brett Kuehner brought along his copy of the famous “Tinker Box” crafted and designed by Neil Hutchison and Robert Yarger.   The boxes were made as special gifts for the IPP 35 hosts last year.  I had the rare opportunity to explore and solve the box with its creator (Neil) hovering nearby, offering his brand of useful comments such as “would you, now?”, “is that what you thought?” or “that may or may not be necessary”.  Neil has a rather dry sense of humor.  It was actually an amazing pleasure to have him adding color commentary and historical insight as the box progressed, learning about stumbling blocks in the creative process and areas where he had to correct issues or rework sections.

Tinker Box by Neil Hutchison and Robert Yarger

The Tinker Box is a gorgeous piece of woodwork which requires 49 steps to reveal all three secret compartments.  The main structure is made from beautiful leopardwood and gives the box a striking patterned appearance.  It rests on hand carved legs which sprout claw like feet.  On top there are six cubic attachments along the edges of the box, which themselves are connected in various ways to links, gears and levers on the top.  One set of these appears to be connected via a long axis gear of some sort, with a complicated looking central cylinder.  There are columns and pins and shafts and levers in rich detail made from wenge and maple.  Along the front there appear to be various compartments.  

A complex set of shafts, gears, levers and connectors adorn the top

An important design concept held by the creators is that one should be able to discern the objective of a good puzzle from close observation, and go from there.  With that in mind, studying the Tinker Box does lead to a few ideas on how to get things started, and eventually you are on your way and may even discover what appears to be a tool which springs out at you, although there are no springs. Hmmm.  Don’t forget to observe this tool as well, just like everything else, or it may just remain a great head scratcher for you.  Hopefully you will be able to put the tool to better use.  At this point you might also fall prey to another clever (or devious) design detail by the creators which seems to go against your better judgement and instincts. “Does it, now?” says Neil, nodding and grinning.  Of course if you haven’t been paying attention, using the tool won’t seem to have helped at all.  At last, you are rewarded with an open compartment. “Congratulations,” says Neil. “That’s one.”  Sigh.  Two more await, and the second is a great reveal and very satisfying indeed.  In fact, there is a little scroll waiting for you there, on which there is a space to write your name and sign the “guestbook” as it were.  It’s a beautiful box, as you would expect from these artists, which spares no detail or mechanism.

Rob Roy circa 1894

Neil Hutchison originally hails from Scotland, so pairing up the Tinker Box with a cocktail naturally started there.  We have to head back to late seventeenth and early eighteenth century and meet Robert Roy MacGregor, a Scottish outlaw and folk hero known as the “Scottish Robin Hood” who took part in the Jacobite rising. His life was fictionalized in the “Highland Rogue” (1723) and later in Sir Walter Scott’s “Rob Roy” (1817).  More importantly, of course, was the creation of the famous cocktail in his honor, which occurred at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1894 to celebrate a new operetta about his life.  A Rob Roy is simply a Scotch Manhattan, that quintessential classic of rye and sweet vermouth, and equally delicious.  Those of us who appreciate a fine single malt scotch would rather not use one in a cocktail, and therefore I prefer to use a blend when making a scotch cocktail.  Luckily Jeff, our consummate host, had the perfect bottle on hand (not to mention an incredible vermouth).  The cocktail was quite satisfying, or at least Neil pretended to like it. He told me something like, “a clean shirt’ll do ye”. That’s good, right?
All kidding aside I’d like to thank Jeff, Brett and Neil for access to the legendary Tinker Box.  It’s incredible to learn that just 6 years ago, Neil had never made a thing out of wood.  Thank goodness someone suggested he try. Cheers and “lang may yer lum reek”!

A couple of Highland Rogues

Rob Roy:
2 oz Blended Scotch
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange peel

Stir ingredients together over ice and strain into a favorite glass. Express the orange peel over the glass and drop inside.

For more about the Tinker Box:

For Neil Hutchison’s Blog:

For prior Boxes and Booze “on location” please see:


For more about last year’s Houston Puzzle Party see:


Can I get a hint, Neil?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sloe Down

As summer winds down and we start looking forward to Autumn I thought we should enjoy at least one more refreshing gin based drink.  Here in Houston the heat lasts for a lot longer as well so it's easy to justify.  Something like a classic and simple Tom Collins, with gin, lemon and fizz.  It’s like grown-up lemonade and great for poolside sipping.  I also have a beautiful bottle of Greenhook Ginsmith’s Beach Plum Gin, gifted from a good friend, and any excuse to add that is a good excuse.  Beach plum gin is a unique variation on classic sloe gin, the British autumn staple, but since it’s beach plum we can happily call this a (late) summer drink.  

Beach Plum Sloe Gin Fizz

Let’s back up a bit and explain sloe gin, first of all.  As the story goes, sometime in early 17th century Britain, the Enclosure Act began a land ordinance which divided public lands into private farmsteads.  Borders were established via hedgerows of Blackthorn, which produced the tart sloe berry each autumn.  It wasn’t long before these found their way into the abundant gin production of the day and viola, sloe gin was born.  Like Italian lemoncello, sloe gin is still best found as a homemade family recipe in small batches, but there are a few companies now mass producing delicious versions for all of us. 

Creative Secret Box 1 "Snail"

Sloeing things down a bit on the puzzling side as well, I present the “Snail” box, a collaborative effort from the Karakuri Creation Group.  This one is from their “Creative Secret Box” series, an initiative they developed to bring new and unusual mechanisms and movements to the classic looking puzzle box.  The Snail box, the first in the series, was designed by Shiro Tajima and crafted by Tatsuo Miyamoto.  It features the colorful and abstract yosegi design patterns seen on all of the creative secret series puzzle boxes.  

Colorful abstract patterned yosegi

I love the mechanism on this one.  It’s very simple, but very clever and may take you awhile to discover.  It certainly utilizes a movement and concept not seen prior to its creation.  It’s well hidden and must have required perfect precision to create. So slow down while exploring this one, no rush – you might even say, go at a snail’s pace.

For the Sloe Gin Fizz you can go a little faster, it’s quick and simple to make.  But then take your time enjoying it – you can easily complete this solution in a few seconds if you’re not showing some restraint!  Here’s to the late days of summer winding down.  Slow down and enjoy them before they’re all gone again for a year. Cheers!


Sloe down and enjoy a few more good summer memories

Sloe Gin Fizz (from the PDT Cocktail book by Jim Meehan)

1 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Sloe Gin (I used Greenhook’s Beach Plum Gin)
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
3 oz sparkling water or club soda

Shake all ingredients except soda water over ice and strain into a tall glass.  Top with the soda water and pause for a while.

For more information about the Karakuri Creation Group:


For prior boxes by Shiro Tajima please see:

For prior boxes by Tatsuo Miyamoto please see:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Victorian Age

It’s time to curl up with a good book again – we’re celebrating annual national “Book Lovers” day here at Boxes and Booze (technically it was on August 9, and hopefully you didn’t wait an entire year to celebrate!).  Right now I’ve managed to get my hands on the family copy of the new Harry Potter, my children having finally relinquished it.  I’m particularly fond of “potions” class, you know.  Last year I featured a great book puzzle box by Bill Sheckels and paired it with the Boukman’s daiquiri, a delicious variation of that classic rum cocktail.  This year I have another book puzzle to peruse on book lover’s day, which has also proven to be quite difficult to read.  Appearing as though it were plucked from the shelf of an old library hidden away inside the musty mansion of some secret society, the “Victorian Book” puzzle box, by Jesse Born from New York State, exudes an instant air of mystery.  

The Victorian Book puzzle box by Jesse Born

Jesse set out to design an old tome reminiscent of centuries past and has done an incredible job.  The layers of fine detail on this book are incredible.  Every inch is covered in hand carved flourishes, much of which was created on a lathe.  The book has striking concentric circles on each face and the spine, which are accented by beautiful buttons of spalted maple.  The pages are also hand carved to appear as irregularly stacked old parchment.  Jesse worked hard to perfect the finish, which lends the book an ancient looking patina. Made from cherry, curly maple, and spalted maple, this incredible book doesn’t stop at being stunning to look at – it’s a great puzzle box too.  There’s a surprising secret hiding here, which leads to a separate unique and very tricky opening mechanism, for those with the book smarts to deduce it.  There will be no speed reading here!  Inside is another treat – the interior is beautifully finished as well.  I may or may not have also found, secreted inside, an unpublished manuscript from Charles Dickens himself, titled “Great Expectations 2: A Cocktail of Two Cities”.  Ahem.

This is some seriously dense reading material

Speaking of Dickens, and cocktails, I think we should pour ourselves something apropos of the Victorian era to imbibe as we settle in with this formidable tome.  Dickens famously described a few of the celebrated tipples of the day in his “American Notes for General Circulation” from an 1842 visit he took to Boston.  There, he marveled at the “Gin-sling, Cocktail, Sangaree, Mint Julep, Sherry-cobbler, Timber Doodle, and other rare drinks.”  The Sherry cobbler is a great example of the simple pleasures which were state of the art at that time – exotic sherry wine mixed with sugar imported from the tropics, citrus, and ice.  Don’t overlook the ice – that was exotic too, imported down from frozen lakes in the north.  This frosty and refreshing drink was so astounding that Dickens took it with him and added it to his next novel.  A famous ‘cocktail’ scene from “The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit” (1843) portrays an astonished Chuzzlewit drinking the glass dry in one go with a look of ecstasy on his face.  

Port Wine Sangaree circa 1842

We’ve already featured the cobbler, and sadly, no one knows what was in a Timber Doodle (which would be the perfect cocktail for a wood worker, don’t you think?), so here’s a classic port wine Sangaree, a perfect accompaniment for the Victorian Book puzzle.  This one survived the test of time and we see it all the time nowadays, as Sangria.  Originally it was made with madeira, or port, and just like the cobbler, simply sweetened with sugar and diluted to frosty perfection with ice.  Some citrus could be added, and it was crowned with the ultimate touch of class for the day, grated nutmeg.   Let’s settle in then, friends, with a good book, and toast the tales they tell, let’s “taste of Bacchus’ blessings now and then”, and never want for friends, or a bottle to share with them.  Cheers!

Time to settle in with a good book

Port Wine Sangaree:

4 oz port
1 teaspoon sugar
2 thin lemon wheels (optional)

Shake vigorously with ice and pour unstrained into a favorite glass.  Garnish with grated nutmeg over top.

For more about Jesse Born:

For last year’s book lover’s post, please see:

For other book puzzle boxes, please see:
Story Time  (featuring another beautiful design by Jesse Born)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Long Distance Call

Right about now a group of “international playful people” are gathered together in a (mostly) undisclosed location of the world, enjoying that beautiful city, some clever and unique mechanical puzzles which have never been seen anywhere in the world before, and best of all each other’s company.  I can’t join them in person this time but am sending this week’s post out to them and wishing them all a great time.  Last year at this time I featured a few puzzle boxes which were created by artists known to that group, whose creations were even entered into the international puzzle design competition which is hosted at that event.  One was the “Crypsis” box by Kelly Snache, a gorgeous box with a hinged lid and a distinctive butterfly resting on top.  Twirling the colorful knobs on each side might lead you to discover the correct sequence of moves needed to open the box, but beware –Kel is a mischievous fellow!  Another was the “Big Ben” puzzle by Brian Young of Mr. Puzzle fame.  Big Ben is a beautifully carved model of the famous London clock tower which sets you off on a journey of discovery. Along the way you solve steps, navigate a maze, find various tools and brainstorm just how you might use them to ultimately solve the endgame, which is to reveal the golden bell which gives the clock tower its name.  If that sounds like fun to you, you’re not alone – Big Ben won the Jury Grand Prize Award at the competition last year.

The SMS Telephone by Brian Young
 
Brian is at it again with the “SMS Telephone” puzzle.  I thought I would feature it this week in honor of that gathering I mentioned.  You know, those “interesting, polite pals” of mine.  It seems like as good a time as any to mention it, since it’s an “impossible, painful piece”.    What I mean is that these reviews are usually only done once a puzzle has been successfully solved.  Perhaps that lends authenticity to the review?  Or perhaps bragging rights to the author?  Well, I’m glad I never claimed to be able to solve every puzzle box – I would be regretting that boast right about now.  Most puzzle boxes aren’t really that hard to figure out, honestly.  But the SMS Telephone, that’s a different story altogether.  For now its secrets are well hidden and remain locked away.  I can’t even “phone a friend” on this telephone, since almost no one in the world has opened this puzzle yet, either!  The SMS Telephone is a handsome little sculpture which resembles an old fashioned Australian telephone box.  It comes complete with handset cradled on top connected to the main box by a wire and a rotary dial, all standard old fashioned issue. Which is all very confusing, since this is called the “SMS” telephone – and that is the ultimate challenge of this puzzle.  Hidden inside are a few compartments and again tools to find which you will need to use to solve the final mystery, which is to receive an SMS message from this old telephone.  Brian has deliberately built in false moves and booby traps to keep you from figuring things out, and apparently he really doesn’t want anyone to call him.  The line remains dead over here at any rate.  I’ll let you all know if I ever solve this one, and if you have any ideas, send me a text!

I'm getting "no signal" here ...

As you know, I’m “insistently pushing potions” to pair with these “intriguingly perplexing puzzles”.  For this “intensely pesky phone” I’ve settled on something decadent and indulgent.  This one should be sipped slowly for desert, perhaps to relax you after a long day of arguing with the phone company and getting absolutely nowhere.  The “Chadburn” is a delectable combination of tawny port, aged rum, pear liqueur and chocolate bitters which is rich and rewarding.  It was created by Martin Cale, the proprietor of “Smuggler’s Cove”, the landmark “tiki” bar in San Fransisco which helped fuel the recent tiki renaissance.  

The Chadburn by Martin Cale - pears and port, anyone?

The drink is named after the chadburn telegraph, the onboard nautical communications device which was utilized starting in the 19th century by the ship’s pilot.  It would send a message down to the engine room to alert the engineer about a change in speed or power.  The chadburn telegraph consists of a large dial face set in brass with a handle or lever which swivels around to the desired setting.  It’s classic and old fashioned look often remains intact even on modern devices which house state of the art communications.  It seem a perfect compliment to the old fashioned “SMS” telephone – and it’s a much easier solution, one you can stir right up.  I’ll be sipping one and toasting my friends across the globe as I continue to “interrogate possible ploys” on this wooden phone.  Cheers!

Intoxicating Pair Paradise

The Chadburn by Martin Cale:

½ oz tawny port
½ oz pear liqueur
2 oz aged rum
6 drops Bittermens Xocolatl Chocolate Mole Bitters
Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a favorite glass.

For more information about Brian Young:

For the Big Ben puzzle please see:


For Kel Snache's Crypsis please see:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jackpot!

Jackpot! As in, this puzzle box comes up all “7”’s.  Actually, that’s a slot machine reference, so not exactly right for this particular puzzle, at least not in the traditional sense.  In this case we would need to literally “hit” the jackpot with our little metal ball as it bounces its way down the game.  I’m talking about pachinko, of course, the national amusement of Japan.  Like pinball, with many tiny metal balls cascading their way down the playing field, pachinko is part arcade game, part casino game, and wildly popular in Japan.  

Pachinko Box by William Strijbos

William Strijbos, that globetrotting designer of devious delights, has been developing his “Pachinko” Box for the past few years.  He describes having been fascinated by the game and wanting to incorporate the idea of launching a metal ball into one of his puzzle box designs.  He has succeeded in creating an incredible puzzle which really does hit the jackpot.  The Pachinko box is a shiny solid metal box with a distinctive feature in the form of a plunger sticking out of the end.  This is revealed to be holding a metal ball in place, inside the box, via a clear window on one side.  There are bolts and a hole in the bottom, and what appear to be two doors on the other side, both securely locked in place.  On top is another window through which you see a coin.  Opening the box will require you to first release that coin, somehow, and once you have opened the box completely (both doors), there is a second coin to be discovered inside, although you can’t seem to get it out.  

Two doors locked tight and an irresistible plunger ...

So these are your challenges: free the first coin, open the box completely, and free the second coin.  In order to do this you will need to embrace the concept of pachinko (you didn’t think it was all for show, did you?), but since this is a Strijbos puzzle, that will only get you so far.  If you do get that far, you will feel immensely relieved, only to quickly realize there are many more challenges still to overcome. This puzzle box delivers on so many levels.  Each of the challenges requires two or three separate steps to deduce and then implement.  In classic Strijbos style, he sets things up so that even once you think you have figured out what needs to be accomplished, in order to move on to the next step, it is by no means easy to enact.  He lays clues and gives you glimpses of things to keep you going.  Mentally this gives you the motivation you need to keep trying.  It’s all so well designed and everything you see has a purpose toward the final goal.  This puzzle challenges you on many levels, keeps you guessing, has just the right amount of difficulty, provides hints when you need them, and is incredibly satisfying.  In other words, it’s so much FUN!

This box pays you back ...


I seem to be on a Strijbos roll, having recently featured his “First Box” as well.  I created a little “puzzle pairing” for that one, keeping the connection between the puzzle box and the cocktail a secret to be deduced by any interested readers with nothing better to do.  It seems like a Strijbos thing to do, so here’s another, admittedly rather simple, puzzle pairing.  This cocktail comes by way of Fred’s Club in Soho, London, where famed bartender Dick Bradsell created it in the mid 1980’s.  It’s not as old as the many historical cocktails I seem to be fond of featuring, but it is a modern classic and very well known.  This is likely due to its simplicity, delicious-ness and perfect name: the Bramble.

The "Ramble" adapted from Dick Bradsell

Bradsell was a cocktail hero of his time, so that probably didn’t hurt either.  Simply combine gin, lemon, and sugar over crushed ice, then drizzle blackberry liqueur over it all and garnish with more blackberries.  Yum!  Of course, I’m at the beach right now, and only had crème de cassis on hand rather than the technically required crème de mure, so this isn’t quit a Bramble – more of a ramble, I’d say.  Nevermind, it’s just as delicious.  Now, back to this perfect puzzle box.  Cheers!

As Wil Strijbos likes to say, "Take your time". Cheers!

The “Ramble”: (for a true Bramble use crème de mure)
1.5 oz gin
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
¾ oz crème de cassis
Shake the first three ingredients with ice or just add them to a glass of crushed ice and stir.  Pour the berry liqueur over the top. Garnish with lemon and berries.

For prior puzzles by Wil Strijbos, please see:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Here There Be Dragons

It’s that time of year again when the days are long and the ocean beckons.  We take a family trip to the beach each summer to relax and reconnect.  Of course the cocktails flow easily, and one of the simplest is my favorite “beach margarita”, which is just tequila, lime juice and simple syrup, with a splash of fresh orange juice instead of orange liqueur.  Coincidentally it also happens to be national “tequila” day at this time of year.  Naturally, I featured the beach margarita with the “Tequila” box by Kasho last year.  

Tequila Day, summer 2015

Once again we are at the beach and tequila day is Sunday July 24, so here’s another margarita variation for you.  This one comes via Jim Meehan, a celebrated mixologist whose “PDT” bar in Manhattan was one of the original new “speakeasy’s” of the modern cocktail renaissance.  Some of you may have his wonderful cocktail book, which features eye popping illustrations by graphic artist Chris Gall.  PDT stands for “Please Don’t Tell”, a rather ironic name for a bar so popular it’s almost impossible to get a reservation.  An unassuming hotdog shop in Saint Mark’s Place serves as the front, and if you are lucky enough to have secured a spot, you head to the phone booth in the back of the shop.  Pick up the phone, confirm, and viola, the back of the phone booth swings open to allow you entry to the hidden bar. 

The White Dragon by Jim Meehan

Getting back to the aforementioned margarita variation, we have Jim Meehan's “White Dragon” cocktail.  This version was originally created using Casa Dragones Blanco, a very special tequila, which certainly lends a unique flavor to the drink and explains the name.  It combines with lemon juice, Cointreau and an egg white to create a delicious, light, summer pleasure. 

Dragon Wing by Shiro Tajima

Shiro Tajima, a former member of the Karakuri Creation Group, has created a series of Asian zodiac themed puzzle boxes over the years.  For the year of the dragon (2012) he designed the “Dragon Wing” box, made from Japanese raisin tree and walnut woods to resemble a resting dragon replete with long neck, snout, tail and folded wings.  You are given the clue that this dragon will spread his wings and fly away, and the box does indeed unfold in a beautiful way.  It’s an elegant puzzle box with a few sneaky moves which compliment its form and function.  Be careful or it might just fly away when you aren’t watching into the summer night sky.  Here’s to secret bars, secret boxes, and summer skies with friends and family.  Cheers!

I hate to drag on about these, but they're incredible

The White Dragon by Jim Meehan:

1 ¾ oz Blanco Tequila
¾ oz Cointreau
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1 egg white
Orange peel

Shake all ingredients together and strain into a favorite glass. Express the orange peel over the drink and discard.

For the “Beach Margarita” and “Tequila” Box please see:

For a prior tequila cocktail please see:


For a prior box by Shiro Tajima please see:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Cordial First

At last we get to the first.  The First Box, by Dutch puzzle designer William Strijbos, that is.  Wil’s Streetwise puzzle company produces beautiful anodized aluminum mechanical puzzles. He travels the world looking for design ideas and inspiration. He has created many interlocking type puzzles and a few fantastic puzzle boxes.  Wil’s designs are known for the elegant touches he often includes, such as how he separates the understanding of how a puzzle must be solved from the actual ability to do so.  Another common hallmark is how he often allows you to see the objective long before you can reach it, in a teasing or infuriating way.  For example, perhaps you need to retrieve a coin from inside a puzzle – you will likely be shown that coin at some point during the puzzle solving, but won’t be able to retrieve it.  

The First Box by William Strijbos

I featured one of his more devious creations, the “Egg”, in the very first Boxes andBooze, as a symbol of beginnings.  The goal of that puzzle is to simply (!) separate the two halves of the egg.  Early on you can get the two halves apart slightly and look inside, but that may be as far as you get … ever!  Wil often provides a description of the journey he took as he developed a new design concept from idea to fruition.  His First Box is the evolution of the first puzzle box he ever created, 6 of which came to life back in 1984 and consisted of a black and silver contraption with bolts and a separate tool for opening.  The design evolved and improved and now appears as a smooth solid bright blue box with a little silver cap on top.  

So sad to be trapped in the box ...

Underneath the box you discover a small hole, with a sad smiley (frowny?) face peering out at you but trapped inside.  Once you open the box, you can free the metal rod with the frowny face, and literally turn it upside down to reveal the happy smiley face on the other side.  Along the journey you will discover things that can help you along the way.  Like most of Wil’s designs, the First Box utilizes a very simple concept which in practice becomes incredibly difficult because you cannot see what is going on inside the box.

Turn that frown upside down

Because Wil Strijbos enjoys puzzling his friends so much, I have created a little puzzle pairing for him as well.  Much like his devious creations, this cocktail takes a few simple ingredients and turns them into something incredible, classic and celebrated.  This is one of the more storied cocktails out there, which is saying something, as most cocktails have at least a short story.  We have to head back to the late 1800’s when British Royal Navy Surgeon Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette was known for mixing his gin ration (“mother’s ruin”) with the lime juice cordial (“Rose’s”) required on all ships of the British merchant marines.  Navy men had already been doing this with their rum for decades.  Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial was invented by a Scottish merchant in 1867 as a palatable “antiscorbutic” - an enjoyable way to prevent scurvy.  It would have been just about the only mixer handy on a naval ship.  The first recipe for a “Gimlet” appeared in Harry MacElhone’s “ABC’s of Mixing Cocktails” from 1922.  But the most famous Gimlet recipe comes from Philipe Marlowe, private eye:

“We sat in a corner of the bar at Victor's and drank gimlets. ‘They don't know how to make them here,’ he said. ‘What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.’ “
From “The Long Goodbye”, by Ramond Chandler, 1953

The Gimlet

Rose’s Lime Juice was more cordial, less artificial sticky syrup back then.  Purists will insist on sticking to the classic recipe, even now, but I would argue that a homemade lime cordial will evoke the original gimlet more closely than the modern day bottled version.  Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make.  If you are still uncertain about the simple perfection of this drink, let Papa convince you:

“It was now lunch time and they were all sitting under the double green fly of the dining tent pretending that nothing had happened. ‘Will you have lime juice or lemon squash?’ Macomber asked. ‘I’ll have a gimlet,’ Robert Wilson told him. ‘I’ll have a gimlet too. I need something,’ Macomber’s wife said. ‘I suppose it’s the thing to do,’ Macomber agreed.
From “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway, 1936

I can’t follow Hemingway, so that’s all I’ve got to say.  Oh, and why is the First Box paired with the Gimlet?  Sip on one while you ponder and let me know – I suppose it’s the thing to do.  Cheers!

What's the connection?

Gimlet:

2 oz gin
1 oz* lime cordial

Shake together over ice and strain into a favorite glass.  *Proportions should be adjusted to taste, depending on how sweet you like it.  Marlowe’s version was 50:50, for example. Lime cordial can be made simply by adding the zest of about 12 limes to their juice and a cup of sugar for 24 hours, then straining out the zest.  You can get fancier if you like, but that works just fine.

Wil Strijbos puzzles are available via retailers the world over. Search for him online.

For more about his Egg puzzle, please see:
A Blog Awakens