Sunday, March 13, 2016

Feeling Lucky

Who couldn’t do with a little luck?  I’m certainly not taking any chances as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, so this puzzle and potion pairing is just in case some of the “Luck O’ The Irish” happens my way.  The patron saint of Ireland is famous for having driven the “snakes” out of Ireland, and sending them all to Ontario, I guess.  More likely, this was metaphorical, as Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland and drove out the pagan Celtic religion.  Those poor Pagans – they were just getting over the same treatment on Valentine’s Day.  Patrick reportedly used the shamrock, Ireland’s indigenous 3-leaf clover, to illustrate and explain the concept of the trinity.  I won’t presume to meddle with such a perfect example.  I’ll just use it with a puzzle box, and leave the religion to St. Patrick.  

A Chance Encounter by Tatsuo Miyamoto

This perfectly Patrick’s Day worthy puzzle box is one of Japanese master craftsman Tatsuo Miyamoto’s most famous works.  His “A Chance Meeting” is truly elegant.  It features a lovely little heart (made of purpleheart wood, of course) set into an oak box decorated with colorful bands of wood inlay.  A little quick exploration reveals that the heart is actually set into a lid, which is easily removed.  Beneath the lid waits a perfect 3-leaf clover, also made from hearts of purpleheart.  Depending on your puzzle acumen, it might take a little while to figure this one out.  You probably hope for some “luck” in opening the box, and it’s likely that you will soon have your wish granted. This is a fun puzzle box with a wonderful design and mechanism.

Feeling Lucky?

To compliment it, and in keeping with St. Paddy’s Day, we have the “Clover Club” cocktail.  In Ireland, and the USA by way of Ireland, there is a “Lent Holiday” on St. Patrick’s Day which allows Catholics who are observing Lent to celebrate the saint in good spirits.  Alcohol, which is typically given up during Lent, is allowed for the day, so talking about cocktails is perfectly appropriate.  If you are looking for some green beer, this may not be your drink.  In fact, the Clover Club is pink.  This has led to some stereotypes of what kind of drink it is and who might be drinking it.  For that kind of thinking we need a little rhyme: Let’s not be so judgmental of pink – the Clover Club is a gentleman’s drink.  

The Clover Club

Originating around the turn of the century in pre-prohibition era America, the Clover Club was the signature drink of a well healed group of Philadelphia lawyers, bankers, writers and “captains of industry”.  They would gather in the social club of the same name inside the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel.  Combine gin with lemon juice, a splash of raspberry syrup and some egg white for texture and you have a strong, tart and slightly sweet variation of the gin sour to be enjoyed by “distinguished patron[s] of the oak-paneled lounge”.  The earliest mention of the Clover Club cocktail was in 1896, and the earliest recipe is found in a 1917 edition of “The Ideal Bartender” by Thomas Bullock.  The cocktail has some Irish provenance as well besides its namesake, making it the ideal new drink for St. Patrick’s Day.  William Butler Yeats was a fan and reportedly drank three of them in a row with his dinner once while visiting America.  Perhaps it was on St. Patrick’s Day, too.  I say, pink is the new green.  Cheers!

A chance encounter of lucky clovers - lucky me!

The Clover Club, from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book (1935):

2 oz dry gin (Plymouth or London Dry, preferably)
 ½ oz fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
2 tsp raspberry syrup
 ¾ tsp superfine sugar
1 egg white (pasteurized eggs can be used for safety)

Shake all ingredients together vigorously without ice, then add ice and shake to chill. Strain into a favorite glass.  A sprig of mint on top to garnish makes it a “Clover Leaf” cocktail.

For more about Tatsuo Miyamoto:

For a previous mention of the Clover Club (in the very first Boxes and Booze post!) please see:

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