Knowing my proclivity for highlighting national calendar days, my father made sure to remind me about National Grandparents Day, which is today. It seems an auspicious opportunity to also celebrate life, renewal, family, and those whom we love. At this time each autumn, we eat apples with honey to symbolize the sweetness in life and of our hopes for another sweet year. It sounds like the makings of a great cocktail as well if you ask me. After all, an auspicious year should start with a great toast.
|The Honeybee Box by Haroyuki Oka|
The Honeybee box, made by Hiroyuki Oka of the KarakuriCreation Group, seems like a perfect little puzzle box to capture these themes as well. Oka says that he designed the box with the notion of springtime in mind, but I think the honey tastes just as sweet this time of year. The puzzle is beautifully made from beech, karin, lacquer tree, walnut, purple heart, mizuki (dogwood), and other colorful woods which work together to create a little flower on a stalk. The cute honey bee buzzes around and is integral to solving the puzzle and opening the box. This is such a finely made box that the correct solution can remain hidden despite trying the proper maneuver over and over, without realizing it. The fine lines which separate different pieces are well hidden and disappear when the box is closed. It took me quite a while to figure out how to get to the honey! Oka is known for his fine puzzle box craftsmanship and currently offers a range of traditional Japanese puzzle boxes on his website.
|The colorful woods make this a bright and cheerful puzzle|
To continue the theme, I created an apples and honey cocktail. The “Sweet Year Sour” is a variation on the Gold Rush cocktail which I have featured previously. If you recall, that is a modern take on the classic whiskey sour, which uses honey syrup instead of simple sugar syrup. For the Sweet Year Sour, I kept in some bourbon for my dad, who loves bourbon, added in some apple brandy, and a few dashes of baked apple bitters to bring it all together, to create a “Gold Rosh” from a “Gold Rush”. Groan if you will, this is one tasty cocktail! If you would rather leave out the bitters, no one will weep. In case you missed all the subtle metaphors going on here, I’ll conclude with a few more tasting notes. Try this lovely libation and toast the changing weather, the sweetness of life, love, family and friends, the wisdom of our parents, and our children, and appreciate how this sour is really quite sweet. Happy New Year!
|The Sweet Year Sour - apples and honey in a glass|
The Sweet Year Sour:
1 oz bourbon
1 oz apple brandy
1 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
3 dashes baked apple bitters
|A little "buzz" for a sweet year!|
For more information on Hiroyuki Oka: