Saturday, April 9, 2016

Button-down Delight

It’s time to break out the decoder ring again.  The stealth spy operatives over at Cryptic Woodworks are at it again, incorporating hidden clues, codes and riddles into the very workings of the puzzle box.  Like the not so mysteriously named “Mysterious Wood Puzzle Box with Locked Drawer” which we have featured in the past, this box includes codes and clues which are incorporated right into the design.  Unlike that prior box, this one has a much shorter and more ominous name: “The Button”.  Its designer, Stephen Kirk, who hails from the spy capital of the world (Quakertown, Pennsylvania) has a fascination with codes, ciphers and apparently espionage.  

The Button by Stephen Kirk

“The Button” recalls the days of encrypted transmissions and cold war secrets when all that stood between enemy nations was the mere press of a button.  Everything you need lies waiting right in front of you, if only you can solve the clues.  Made from reclaimed walnut, maple, and birch plywood, The Button presents plutonium grade puzzling as you endeavor to achieve the primary objective of simply pressing the button.  Once pressed, the box reveals two drawers which spring open to allow access to top secret documents, like launch codes, or cocktail recipes if you’re really lucky.  Stephen Kirk’s puzzles are expertly crafted by hand and feature high quality details and finishes.  The codes and clues are an excellent challenge and might even puzzle Alan Turing himself.

The Three Dots and a Dash adapted by Paul McGee

This cryptic conundrum deserves a top secret tipple to sip while pondering.  Back in 1933, “Don the Beachcomber” (code name for Earnest Gantt) opened the first “Tiki Bar” in Los Angeles, which incorporated Polynesian themes and tropical style cocktails.  It was wildly popular and spawned a whole new class of cocktails.  We have discussed his and his competitor “Trader Vic”’s bars and how they each claim to have invented the famous “Mai Tai”.  They were brilliant at marketing their drinks and the tiki theme, so it’s no surprise that “Don” devised something special to celebrate the Allies victory in Europe at the end of World War II.  Returning soldiers and civilians alike were treated to the “Three Dots and a Dash” cocktail, a delicious combination of rums, lime and orange juices, honey syrup, allspice liqueur and a tropical syrup called falernum.  

That garnish is a tasty Morsel ...

Stephen Kirk will tell you that three dots followed by a dash is Morse Code for the letter “V”, which in this case stood for “Victory”.  Pictures from that era reveal how popular the “V” hand sign was at the time, which has evolved into what we call the “peace” sign now.  Tiki cocktails have made a big comeback in recent times, thanks to the craft cocktail movement in general, spawning well know bars like Chicago’s “Three Dots and a Dash” whose namesake cocktail is featured here.  In fact, this year’s “Cocktail Bar of the Year” was “Lost Lake”, another Chicago tiki bar.  The Three Dots and a Dash cocktail is a great tiki classic, offering a taste of rum which is not too sweet and not too strong, with some spice and exotic flavors which are perfectly balanced.  It’s one secret I couldn't keep to myself.  If you should be victorious in your efforts to unlock this box, you should celebrate with something equally victorious.  So go press whatever button you need to make or order one of these for yourself, and happy puzzling.  Cheers!

Nothing cryptic about how incredible these two are!

Three Dots and Dash by Paul McGee, adapted from Don the Beachcomber circa 1945:

1 ounce Duquesne Aged Rhum Agricole (I used Demerara Rum)
1 ounce Eldorado 5 Year Rum (I used Flor de Cana 7)
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/2 ounce Honey syrup
1/2 ounce Falernum
1/4 ounce Allspice Dram
1 ounce Fresh lime juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake everything over ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Amp up the garnish for this one!

For more information about Stephen Kirk:

For a prior tiki themed Boxes and Booze please see:

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