Saturday, October 22, 2016

Harvest Hijinks

I love autumn.  As if you couldn’t tell already, with all the recent autumn themed puzzles and cocktails featured here the past few weeks.   I’ve even been stretching my repertoire a bit with some autumn themed cocktail creations of my own, such as the Autumn Daze and the Waterfall (paired with some seriously amazing puzzle boxes).  We haven’t exactly broken out the sweaters yet here in Houston, but there’s a chill in the air for sure. So here’s one more for good measure, which incorporates the holiday Sukkot as well.  What’s that, you say?  The “Festival of Booths” comes around this time of year to celebrate the harvest season.  Reminiscent of the harvester’s hut, which was set out in the fields of yore during the season, a sukkah is a little outdoor shelter where you can rest, eat, and look at the stars. You’ll also find a strange citrus fruit there called an etrog, or citron. This ancient Mediterranean fruit looks like a fat wrinkled lemon and has an intense citrus and violet fragrance – cocktails, anyone?  

Secret Box House

It turns out that a small distillery in Los Angeles has actually created an Etrog liqueur, which is so unusual that I literally decided to create an entire box and booze pairing around it.  Starting with the cocktail, I thought about other fruit flavors of this seasonal holiday, which include apples, pears, figs, grapes and pomegranates.    Pomegranate equals grenadine, of course, and I’ll use any excuse to break out the apple brandy (or Applejack).  So here’s the “Harvest Highball”, made with Applejack, Etrog, and a fig-pomegranate grenadine.  It’s pretty tasty.

Harvest Highball

Now we need a little hut under which to imbibe this bountiful beverage.  It’s not exactly a hut, I admit, but it is a really cute little house.  It might even be made out of palm, myrtle and willow woods, who knows?  Those are the symbolic branches of Sukkot, by the way, in case anyone wants to make a puzzle box out of them.  The “Secret Box House” was created by the master craftsmen in Hakone, Japan, the cradle of yosegi marquetry woodwork and origin of the “himitsu-bako”, or secret box.  The house is adorned with incredible yosegi details, including the bricks of the house, the chimney, and the shingles on the roof.  Of course, to truly appreciate the beauty of the season we need to be able to see the stars from our hut.  On this little house, it will take 12 secret moves to accomplish that task, and every adorable detail of the house must be used.  There’s a front door, a few windows, a tiny chimney – it’s going to take a bit of home improvement to open the sky light, but you’ll have a lot of fun in the process.  This is a really enjoyable little puzzle box, with plenty of tricks to keep you guessing packed into a charming shape.  So turn on Cannonball Adderly’s “Autumn Leaves” and get up to some harvest hijinks yourself as well.  Cheers!

This cozy couple are ready for the autumn

Harvest Highball
1 ½ Laird’s Applejack
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz fig grenadine
½ oz Etrog liqueuer (Sukkah Hill Spirits)
3-6 oz club soda to taste
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir all ingredients over ice and enjoy while listening to Autumn Leaves.

For more information about Sukkah Hill Spirits:

For more information about Japanese yosegi marquetry see:

For more information about Applejack see:


For a prior cocktail with grenadine see:

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