Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Little Hanky Panky

You’ll have to excuse me for a moment.  It’s rather urgent, and there’s really nothing I can do about it at this point.  It’s just a fact of life, after all.  I know there are plenty of you out there who will understand.  Someone who I know for sure will understand is Tracy Wood Clemons, who created the “A Man’s Got To Go!” box.  Tracy seems to know a lot about this problem.  I actually know a bit myself, professionally speaking, but that’s another story.  I can at least comment, professionally speaking, that both men and women have “got to go” sometimes.  Tracy seems to know this too, but you have to solve her puzzle box to fully appreciate what I mean by that.  Based in Rochester, New York, which has a climate almost the same as Houston, Texas (home of boxes and booze), Tracy creates her unique style of furniture and puzzle boxes.  

A Man's Got To Go! by Tracy Wood Clemons

Her “A Man’s Got To Go!” box is a charming little traveling trunk with handles on each side, decorative trim, and an impressive wooden puzzle lock keeping things secure on your journey of discovery.  Once past the lock the trunk opens to reveal another puzzle which must be solved in order to get to the contents inside the trunk – typical of Tracy’s style.  In fact there is more than meets the eye here, and more than one secret compartment, too.  

Beautiful details hide some clever secrets

The secrets are very well hidden and surprising.  But once you do discover your way into the main compartment, you are greeted by a jumble of wooden objects of all shapes and sizes.  This is another puzzle, which, once assembled, reveals the source of the puzzle’s title.  The puzzle box is a clever homage to a figurine made by Tracy’s father many years ago.  The history of this as well as some photographs are also secretly stored in the trunk.  Tracy has updated the design and added her own special touches and humor.  This puzzle box may actually be rated “R” so you have been warned if you take a peek at the solutions page linked to at the end of this post, which reveal the finished puzzles and old photographs.  As if you aren’t heading there already now…

Opening the lid has hardly gotten you anywhere...

To celebrate this naughty and nice puzzle box we need something equal to the task, with roots in the past but with a modern refresh – the “Hanky-Panky”.  At the turn of the century, The American Bar in the Savoy hotel was a famous place to get a drink in London.  The English actor Sir Charles Hawtry would often ask the bar manager, Ada Coleman, for something with “a bit of punch in it”.  She is credited with inventing for him a version of the sweet martini with the addition of Fernet Branca, a bracing Italian amaro introduced in 1845 and famous ever since for its intense bitterness.  Made from a secret recipe of 27 herbs and plants, Fernet Branca is a popular digestive and not for the faint of heart when taken neat, but it’s found in many mixed cocktails.  For example, it’s extremely popular in Argentina mixed with Coca-Cola.  

The Hanky Panky by Ada Coleman circa 1900

Getting back to the American Bar, sometime around 1900, Coleman served Hawtry her new concoction.  He famously exclaimed, “By Jove! That is the real Hanky-Panky!”  A modern refresh to this classic cocktail adds a bit a fresh orange juice, which helps balance the bitter Fernet and improves the original.  So whether you want the real “Hanky-Panky” or you’re more modern, go get mixed up in some hanky-panky yourself, or just mix one up - and get puzzling.  Cheers!

A little hanky panky going on here ...

For more on Tracy Wood Clemons, please see:

For the original Hanky Panky cocktail recipe:
(For a more modern take, add ¼ oz fresh orange juice as well, as seen here)

For the solutions page to “A Man’s Got To Go!” please see:

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