Saturday, October 7, 2017

Medieval Magic - Apothecary Part VI

At last we come to the final two drawers of the Apothecary Chest.  As with many stages of the journey, the chest and the drawers are interlinked and interdependent up to the end.  The final two drawers both require elements which must be discovered along the way to open.  First we will explore the magical box known as “Abracadabra”.  The box has a few nice details including accented splines and a central dimple on the front, surrounded by inlayed wooden dots.  The lid, of course, does not come off. Without giving too much away I’ll just say that you’ll need to do a little magic to make this box reveal its secrets.  It really lives up to its name.  

Abracadabra by Matt Dawson and Kelly Snache
The box was designed by Matthew Dawson, a fellow Houstonian puzzle collector and designer who worked with Canadian artist Kelly Snache to bring this idea to life.  Kelly also created the Parameter Motion box which was encountered earlier in the chest. The mechanism for Abracadabra utilizes a little “magic” which reminds me of another design from Matt Dawson, the Ambidextrous Hexduos which was an IPP 30 puzzle exchange.  Matt worked with Robert Yarger on that design as well.  So brush off your spell books, break out the hocus pocus, and perform a little abracadabra on this puzzle box.

The Magic Hour by Tom Macy

We’ll toast the Abracadabra box with a magical cocktail full of sparkle and mischief.  Created by New York mixologist Tom Macy, the “Magic Hour” is a magically modified mimosa in disguise. This is not your ordinary brunch cocktail.  Tom Macy is the creator of socialhourcocktails.com, a hands on resource for aspiring culinary cocktail makers everywhere, and the head bartender at Clover Club, a Brooklyn landmark.  In the Magic Hour, he exchanges the classic orange juice for grapefruit, adds depth with the aperitif Lillet Rose (I used Cocchi Americano Rosa which was also wonderful), and finally stirs things up even further with a little Yellow Chartreuse.  The result is a delicious grapefruit twist on the classic which might just make you believe in magic.

A magical pair

Magic Hour by Tom Macy

1 ½ oz Lillet Rose
½ oz fresh grapefruit
¼ oz simple syrup
1 tsp Yellow Chartreuse
Sparkling wine

Shake all ingredients except sparkling wine together with ice and strain into a flute.  Add sparkles on top and garnish with some magic.

Knight vs. Dragon Box by Robert Yarger

Finally we come to the drawer which was created by the very man who envisioned and produced the entire chest, Robert Yarger.  His “contribution” to the chest, in quotations since he also built the entire chest as well which hardly makes the puzzle box his only contribution, is the magnificent Stickman No. 21 Puzzle Box, The Knight vs. Dragon Box.  Like all the other drawers, limited by the constraints of the chest, the external appearance belies the complexity of the puzzle.  Even so, the box manages to have a distinctive appearance, crafted from Mahogany and Jatoba with wood inlay dot accents.  

White Knight with Dragon

The internal mechanism is a brilliantly executed marvel to behold, but the action all plays out on the top of the box, enacted by the main characters, the Knight and the Dragon.  These are nicely rendered pewter figurines which are magnetically held in place.   As the box is navigated, the players must be moved in strategic ways to advance.  At other times, the pieces actually move by themselves, in a magical dance of parry and retreat.  To solve the box and allow it to open completely the Knight and Dragon must be maneuvered together, to face each other at last, so the Dragon may be slayed. The box can then be reset back to the beginning quite easily, or with a more difficult setting of moves if desired.  Once opened you can admire the mechanism, and understand how the magic is accomplished.  It’s a classic Stickman Box which improves upon a certain type of puzzle mechanism and adds new elements, and it’s a perfect ending to the incredible Apothecary journey.

The Difford's Guide version, with NOLA coffee liqueur

The Knight vs. Dragon Box is like the dessert at the end of an incredible chef’s tasting menu.  In that spirit I’ve paired it with a delicious drink called the White Knight.  Not only is it an after dinner drink, rich, creamy and decadent, but it also features coffee liqueur, perhaps making it the ultimate after dinner drink for this extravagant meal.  All I can tell you is that there are quite a number of White Knight cocktails, but this is the best of the bunch.  I discovered it in Difford’s Guide, the incredible and comprehensive spirits resource for enthusiasts and professionals alike created by Simon Difford.  There isn’t any additional information about it, but perhaps that is fitting, like a lost legend from the time of dragons.  I’ve used St. George Spirits incredible NOLA coffee liqueur, which, like the coffee from its namesake city, is created with Yirgacheffe coffee and chicory root, and sweetened with Madagascar vanilla.  It’s one of the best coffee liqueurs available, from one of the best American craft distillers.  Only the best would do to toast this extraordinary conclusion to the Apothecary Chest. 

Here’s to magic, to spellbinding wonders, to fantasy, and dragons, and white knights, and the imaginations which bring them to life for us.  Cheers!

This quest to slay the dragon is incredible

White Knight

¾ oz aged blended Scotch (such as Monkey Shoulder)
¾ oz Coffee liqueur (such as St. George Spirits NOLA)
¾ oz Drambuie liqueur
¾ oz milk
¾ oz half and half cream

Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into a favorite glass.  Sprinkle with the sparks from a freshly forged sword (or grated nutmeg) and garnish with a citrus peel, fire-breathing dragon – one of my finer creations, don’t you think?

For more about Robert Yarger see:

For the prior Apothecary Chest drawers see:


Stay tuned for the final installment of the Apothecary Chest series next week.

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