Saturday, April 1, 2017

Roll with it

Happy April, everyone! I can’t believe it has been a year already since I foolishly dabbled in the twisty arts and mentioned I was changing the name of this blog to “Twisties and Tonics”.  That was a fun pairing, Oskar’s Treasure chest (puzzle box hiding inside a Rubik’s Cube) with an “apple martini” which was actually nothing of the sort.  I’m all through with fooling around now. This year’s pairing of potion and puzzle is strictly professional.  Promise.

Roll Box by Fumio Tsuburai

I’d actually like to talk about an original Karakuri Creation Group craftsman with a long history in the group, whose work I have never featured before.  Fumio Tsuburai has been crafting his unusual boxes since the start of the group back in 2000 and has 35 pieces in his portfolio.  He mentions that he has worked in electronics, machinery and painting as well as woodcraft, and brings those skills to his creations.  He also tries to balance his ability to incorporate “high tech” in his puzzles with the understanding that “low tech” may be more calming to the soul.  

Lovely contrasting wood details

This balance can be seen in one of his earlier puzzles, the “Roll Box”.  At first glance, it appears to be a handsomely made chest with a wooden-hinged lid, locked shut at the front.  There is a prominent bar on the front decorated in a contrasting, directional wood pattern which seems to be telling you something.  Indeed this is a sliding bar with a little keyhole.  Next you quickly realize that something is rolling around inside the box – a ball of some sort - and now the name of the box makes sense.  There is a calm, almost meditative sense which overtakes you as you gently roll the ball back and forth.  Of course, none of this rolling seems to make the lid open.  Don't let that frustrate you - I say just roll with it.

Meditate on the soothing sounds of the Roll Box

I’d also like to roll back in history for the potion to pair with this puzzle.  The weather is getting warmer, especially in Houston, and one of the all-time classic beat the heat cocktails is the Gin Rickey.  Often thought of as the official drink of Washington DC, the Rickey recalls a time in American politics when disputes and deals were settled at the bar, and no issue was so partisan it couldn’t be resolved over a few friendly drinks and a handshake.  To cool things off both figuratively and literally, a base spirit such as bourbon or gin was often diluted in an ice cold tall glass filled with seltzer – a classic “highball”. 

The Gin Rickey c. 1883

“Colonel” Joe Rickey was a well known lobbyist and campaign strategist in the late 1800’s.  His favorite watering hole and the place to politic was Shoomaker’s bar next to the National Theater.  It was there at “Shoo’s” that Rickey invented his famous drink, in 1883, with rye whiskey, lime juice and soda, although soon after the drink became more famous with gin.  Rickey even went on to buy Shoomaker's bar in the 1890s, which has since been demolished.  The drink stands the test of time as a refreshing, cool gin and tonic alternative for those sweltering days in the swamp. Perhaps Washington should order a few now – seems everyone could use a drink.  Here’s to the Rickey, rolling up our sleeves, and having a good old fashioned sense of humor. Cheers!

"Dry Rye" gin captures the original flavors quite well

Gin Rickey circa 1883

2 oz London Dry gin (I used St. George’s Dry Rye gin to capture the spirit of the original as well)
¾ oz fresh lime
Soda water


Combine the gin and lime juice in an ice filled highball glass.  Add the soda water and stir. Garnish with a wedge of lime and let the good times roll.

Rickey Roll ... cheers! 

For more information about Fumio Tsuburai:

For last year's Twisties and Tonics amusement see:
Feeling Foolish

For a peek at the creation of this citrus peel garnish see:
Boxes and Booze Unboxed: The "Shoomaker"

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