Saturday, December 3, 2016

Festive Flannels

Happy Holidays!  This time of year I turn to cold weather comforts in all things cocktail and otherwise.  Therefore over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring some cozy concoctions which go great by the fireside.  Of course we’ll have some beautiful boxes to boot.  Let’s start by brushing off and bundling up with some soft woven fabric which evokes the season – I’m talking about flannel, of course.  Kyoko Hoshino of the Karakuri Creation Group makes her puzzle boxes distinct with her use of cloth and other materials in and on her boxes.  Her “BB” (I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that this stands for “Button Box”) is no exception.  Presented as a Christmas gift a few years ago, the BB is a cute little cubic box with a lid made from magnolia and birch woods.  On top of the lid is a soft plaid square of flannel-like cloth in seasonal stripes of green and red.  The lid is also adorned with a little red leather button sewn to the cloth. 

BB by Kyoko Hoshino

Hoshino promises in her description of the puzzle that “This is an ordinary button. But, a button is a button.”  It’s a perfect description and needs no embellishment.  This one is a bit easier to solve than her Wrapping Box, another seasonal gift themed cloth covered puzzle box of hers which I featured last year around this time, although none of her puzzles are all that difficult.  It is certainly much simpler than Stephen Kirk’s Button Box which I reviewed in the past, not to mention Eric Fuller’s new Small Button Box which I have yet to review.  One thing’s for sure: all of these puzzle makers really know how to press our buttons.

A festive fun-loving flannel friend

I’ve paired Hoshino’s BB with a cozy comfort cocktail known fondly as “The Flannel”.  You probably saw that coming.  I found this modern mix online last year and have no idea who invented it, so there goes all my usual history lessons through cocktail lore.  But wait!  There’s more!  The Flannel appears to be a modified version of The Flannel Shirt, created by celebrity mixologist Jeffrey Morganthaler for the StarChefs Portland Rising Star Awards in 2011 to highlight Highland Park Scotch. 

The Flannel

The original uses scotch, as mentioned, along with Averna amaro and fresh cider.  It’s incredibly delicious, in case you were wondering.  The Flannel (no shirt, which in this case still gets you service) uses cognac, skips the amaro, uses the cider as a syrup and swaps lemon for orange juice.  There’s some tinkering going on here with almost all of the original ingredients but the intent is the same and the result is also an incredibly delicious drink.  Either way, you can’t go wrong.  So stoke the fire, get out your softest flannels and pull up a comfy chair to set your butt-on.  Cheers!

What chilly December looks like in Houston

The Flannel Shirt by Jeffrey Morgenthaler
1 ¾ oz Scotch
1 ½ oz fresh apple cider
½ oz Averna amaro
¼ oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsp rich Demerara syrup
½ tsp St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Shake with ice cubes and strain into old-fashioned glass with cracked ice. Twist an orange peel over the surface of the cocktail and drop in the drink to serve.

The Flannel
1 oz Cognac
.5 oz Apple cider syrup
.25 oz Allspice dram
.25 oz Orange juice
For the apple cider syrup simple reduce by boiling fresh apple cider down to about ¼ volume.  Shake the ingredients together over ice and strain into a favorite glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

For more about Kyoko Hoshino see:

For Stephen Kirk’s Button Box see:


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