Saturday, July 13, 2019

In Bloom

“Ignorance is like a delicate fruit; touch it, and the bloom is gone.” – Oscar Wilde

Bloom-Box by Rocky Chiarro

Spring has come and gone, and here we are in the midst of summer (apologies for my Northern Hemisphere centric view of the world). The flowers have bloomed already, so this pairing is a little late in the scheme of nature, but the weather is so absurd lately I’m thinking it doesn’t really matter. Also, despite the name, the provenance of this marvelous little box doesn’t actually have to do with flowers after all, despite it’s being called the “Bloom-Box”.

in full Bloom

A description of “Brass Puzzles by Rocky”, which is the name Rocco Chiarro uses for his puzzling endeavors, and also the segue into this run on sentence, should theoretically start with the solution. That’s because Rocky always thinks about the way a puzzle will work first, before deciding how it will look or act. He develops a mechanism, then applies it to a new puzzle design. He actually copyrights his puzzle solutions, and their odd and playful names. But of course I’m not going to explain the solution here. We’ll just have to do things backwards. The “Bloom-Box” is a simple appearing rectangular chest with square legs and a lid. Rocky made another, different chest as well in the past, called the En-Deavor (named after the Space Shuttle). But that is another story. The Bloom Box came about after Rocky sold a puzzle to French magician Gaetan Bloom many years ago. They proceeded to correspond about a magic trick involving a big box and Bloom even sent Rocky a book about it. Which led to Rocky creating the Bloom Box. You won’t find any hidden rabbits inside it, but you might find it to be rather magical.

Pins and Needles by Alex Day

Despite what I said before about the box, I’m sticking with the flower theme for the cocktail, at least. Blooming flowers in the mixology world mean Daisies, and Daisies mean spirit, citrus, sweetener and soda. The sweetener was historically with orange cordial, but that changed to grenadine in the early twentieth century. Plenty of variations abound, but most agree that a Daisy should be cold, refreshing and garnished with seasonal fruit.

Extra special with champagne

Here’s a great modern Daisy from Alex Day, the well-known innovator behind famed Death & Co. New York, among many other great bars. After his New York stint he helped open Honeycut, another highly regarded hotspot in Los Angeles, where he created this drink. In it, he uses rhum agricole as the base spirit, which is made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses that imparts a grassier, “funky” flavor element which rum aficionados love. Add to that the floral Lillet Rose aperitif (a perfect bloom) and some pineapple syrup to sweeten things up. Carbonated water Daisifies it for a truly wonderful sipper for the season. These are definitely in bloom right now. Cheers!

This pair is in bloom

Pins and Needles by Alex Day

1 oz white rhum agricole
 1 ½ oz Lillet Rose
¾ oz pineapple gum syrup
½ oz lime
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 oz soda water

Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with the soda water and garnish with a lime wheel and pineapple wedge.

For more from Rocky Chiarro:

Saturday, July 6, 2019

All's Well That Ends Well

“My formula for success? Rise early, work late, strike oil.” -  John Paul Getty

Plugged Well by Brian Young

I’m not sure how long you have to live somewhere to be able to properly say you are “from” there, and perhaps it’s a state of mind as well. I think I can safely say that I’m “from” Texas now, at least in the sense that I’ve lived here a long time. With that in mind I’m particularly pleased to have had this little puzzle sitting on my shelf for some time now. It was one of the first items I ever bought from Brian and Sue Young’s Mr. Puzzle shop, back before they were all sold out and extremely hard to find. Little did I know at the time, the story of this puzzle was connected to my own hometown of Houston.

Hubba Bubba

The Plugged Well was the result of a request to Brian from Matthew Dawson, a fellow puzzle collector, enthusiast and Houstonian. Matt worked in the Texas oil industry with his family’s business, and had an idea for a puzzle. It centered around a story he created about the fictional “Uncle Bubba”, from whom the puzzler has inherited a non-functioning oil well. It seems that back in the 1960’s, oil prices had dropped so low that Uncle Bubba plugged the old well to stop the flow. But now that oil prices have skyrocketed, if you want to make your fortune, you better figure out how to unplug that old well!

Fool's Gold by Jen Ackrill

Brian designed the puzzle based on that idea, and fashioned a cute little oil rig from native Queensland Walnut and some brass and steel parts which are both visible and hidden. There’s a prominent derrick with a brass pipe where the oil might one day spurt, and a locked drawer on front with a fixed knob. The goal is to access the inner compartment, where a prized barrel of oil awaits. Brian is a master at creating ingenious and clever puzzles of all sorts, and his sequential discovery puzzles are some of the best. The Plugged Well does not disappoint, with many fun discoveries and a tricky sequence of precise mechanics to navigate before the compartment can be opened and the puzzle solved. The puzzle was generously presented by Matt at the Edward Hordern Puzzle Exchange in Washington DC, 2012.

Some mighty unusual ingredients 'round these parts

Much like how I’ve had this puzzle for a long time and have been meaning to write about it, I created this cocktail pairing a while back and have been letting it age appropriately. It seems it is time to unplug this well. I chose a drink called the “Fool’s Gold”, because oil is sometimes known as “black gold”, but the Plugged Well is so tricky it might just keep you from your treasure indefinitely. Fool’s Gold is a great name for a cocktail, so of course there are many versions, most a variation on the theme of a whiskey sour or a whiskey and coke. This one is far more interesting and complex, as befits this puzzle. It was created by Jen Ackrill, a mixologist from Honolulu, Hawaii. That should give you a hint of what you are in for already. She splits the base spirit between bourbon and a special rye style gin form St. George spirits, then adds a layer of bitterness with Amere Nouvelle, a modern take on a classic French bitter liqueur. Finally she sweetens things up with banana liqueur – she’s from Hawaii after all. I know what you are thinking. Indeed, the drink sound as bananas as that ingredient. But it works surprisingly well. It’s unexpected, and delicious. You’d be a fool not to try it. Cheers!

Strike it rich with this pair

Fool’s Gold by Jen Ackrill
1 oz St. George Dry Rye Gin
1 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
¾ oz Bittermens Amére Nouvelle
¼ oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1 lime zest, as garnish

For more from Brian Young:
Boxes and Boos
Party Time
Louvre Is In The Air

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Perfect Spiral

Ah, summer. The perfect time to kick back, relax, and enjoy a Christmas present, don’t you think? Well, maybe not, but any time is the right time to enjoy a puzzle box made by Perry McDaniel and this one is extra special.

Corkscrew by Perry McDaniel

Perry, as many know, is a master woodworker who creates some of the most surprising and beautiful puzzle boxes featuring incredibly complex and elegant mechanisms. He’s occasionally known as the puzzled baker, because his creations have often taken the form of cakes and pies over the years. These usually look good enough to eat, and Perry has a few funny stories about that too. If that wasn’t remarkable enough, he manages to shrink all the complexity into a tiny package. He has noted that the thickest cut of wood he typically uses now is only 1/8 inch. One unintended but satisfying consequence of this development is that he uses, and wastes, far less wood than he used to. He achieves all of this fine precision using the Incra tools he works with during his day job – sounds like a perfect set up to me.

Perfect down to the tiniest details

As many probably do not know, Perry also creates a very limited edition annual Christmas puzzle for close friends and family. With the fun and festivities that come during the holiday season, the task of designing, prototyping and producing a new puzzle leaves little time to make more than a handful of these each year, and that has always satisfied Perry. He relates that things went better than usual this past year, with a design that settled quickly, a perfect prototype, and rapid production schedule. As he puts it, there were “No hiccups, no backtracking, no eleventh hour design changes.  In short, it was magic.” I’ve known Perry for a few years now, and have become part of the extended “Texas” family, so was fortunate to receive one of the few extras he was able to make this time. It was indeed a magical, and unusual, year. I don’t want to give the impression that these are something to be requested of him. He gave me permission to write about this one, as a way to share it with everyone.

This one is screwy

Which brings us to the “Corkscrew”, the 2018 Christmas Puzzle Box and another absolutely beautiful creation from Perry.  His year-end offerings are “typically simple rectangular boxes with emphasis on the mechanisms employed for the solution.  No dessert shapes here.” Each of the 16 boxes he produced for this edition feature a unique wood selection with no two alike, and they are all quite beautiful.  This one is crafted from Curly Sassafrass with Wenge trim, and has Curly Wenge, Bloodwood and Holly handles. From Perry: “Sassafras was used at one time to produce Root Beer and Tea although I think there are now some concerns with carcinogens in the tree oils.  It is a delightful smelling wood when machined.  Quite sweet.  I rarely see this wood and snatched up the board that this box came from on a visit to an Austin Wood supplier on the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The color reminds me of the “crate” styled packing box series produced by Ninomiya although it has a finer texture.” It is indeed lovely. There are two hidden compartments, and there is a little hint to the unusual, delightful mechanism in the name. It took me some time to find the first compartment, and the second stayed hidden for a long, long while. It’s another remarkable masterpiece from Perry.

Corkscrew cocktail

The cocktail pairing for this toast came easily, as there happens to be a cocktail named the “Corkscrew”. It appears in quite a few references, with the earliest I can find being the 1974 edition of the Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender’s Guide. However, the origins of this drink remain a bit of a mystery. There is a tangential reference to Burnett’s rum, a defunct brand of inexpensive rum from St. Croix. Sir Robert Burnett was a distiller from the late 1700’s better known for his gin, whose name is now associated with flavored vodka. The best I can do is provide you with the true and accurate history of the cocktail’s namesake – the corkscrew. The first mention of said tool was in the 1680’s, when musket barrel cleaners were modified into “steel worms” to assist with accessing the wine.  Reverend Samuel Henshall from Oxford, England improved the design and received the first corkscrew patent in 1795 – the same year our Sir Robert Burnett received his knighthood. Coincidence?!? Yes. Now before you go congratulating the good Reverend, it should be noted that “helixophiles” (that’s right, “cork enthusiasts”) insist the design existed for decades already, and he was just the first to patent.

A rum and peach martini

The corkscrew is indeed a fantastic invention, so simple, so elegant, so necessary. Unless you have a saber. The drink is a light, sweet variation on the martini, albeit with rum. The prominent flavor is peach, which is perfect for the summer. It’s an unexpectedly nice drink with rum, but would certainly work with gin, or even, if you must, vodka. So get out your corkscrew and pull the cork on a bottle of something light and refreshing. Maybe even mix up one of these, to toast the season. Here’s to it – cheers!

This pair will uncork some fun

Corkscrew c. 1974 (?)

1 ½ oz white rum
½ oz dry vermouth
½ oz peach schnapps

Shake together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Lemon twist corkscrew garnish.

For more from Perry McDaniel:
Bon Vayage

do it yourself puzzle box in a jar - just add glue and shake
A game of pick up sticks
organized chaos
N.B. special thanks to Perry McDaniel for the amazing photos of one of the deconstructed Corkscrew boxes

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Connecting the Dots

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life” – Oscar Wilde, 1891

Color-colo by Yasuaki Kikuchi

Wilde was contemplating the phenomenon that what we experience in life, at times, is directly influenced by our notions of art. We see a beautifully painted sunset which evokes certain emotions, and we then experience those same emotions when viewing a real sunset. Or so the theory goes. It has larger implications in a world controlled by media, but I digress. I’m just here to talk about a puzzle box.

A new twist on an old twist

This one, the “Color-colo” by Japanese artist Yatsuaki Kikuchi of the Karakuri Creation Group, who wanted to imitate a Rubik’s Cube with his creation. That puzzle, invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik as an architectural model, is an iconic symbol known all over the world. So in this case it seems that art is imitating art. The Rubik’s Cube is not a puzzle box, of course, unless you consider this one, so Kikuchi had to take some artistic license here. His cube does not twist into over 43 quintillion combinations, like Rubik’s version. No need to repeat that feat of wonder. Kikuchi’s cube is sized to comfortably fit in the hand and crafted from walnut, maple and cherry woods. It features little multi-colored dots all around, and it lives up to the expectations created by the original that it imitates, in that the goal is indeed to align all the colors on each side, like a real Rubik’s Cube. The box turns out to be quite dynamic, and it is satisfying and fun to engage the mechanism. The name may confuse some Westerners not familiar with the many common forms of onomatopoeia in the Japanese language. They love words that sound like what they are describing. Like this one: ゴロゴロ which describes the sound of something rolling around. If you don't know Japanese, the word is pronounced like, well, "color-colo" - say it a few times fast and you'll see. It's a great pun and play on the word in Japanese, and also gives a little hint about how the box works. What a wonderfully creative homage and festive box by this clever new designer.

Singapore Sling

For the toast, I actually developed this pairing in reverse. I have wanted to feature the classic “Singapore Sling” cocktail for a while, but couldn’t decide what box would pair with it, until it struck me that this one would do quite nicely. Many will know the famous nickname for Singapore, which derived from its depiction on many world maps as simply a “little red dot”. The term is now used proudly in self reference by this thriving independent nation. The Color-colo cube has little red dots all over it (and many other colors too, of course, but life is imitating art here, ok?).

The original recipe, c. 1900 ... 

The “sling” family of cocktails arguably predates the actual “cocktail” and may have been a bridge from the popular punches of the early 1800’s in America to the cocktail itself. A sling back then was essentially a single serving of punch, made with spirit, sugar and water, but no bitters. Things got much fancier at the turn of the next century, especially at, say, the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. They were famous for their sling, made with gin, lemon (or lime), ice, soda water, and … other stuff. The other stuff is so mysterious because there are now so many versions of the drink and the cocktail history books are not so helpful. A modern day Singapore Sling at the Raffles includes pineapple juice, cherry brandy, Benedictine, grenadine and bitters too. But Historian David Wondrich has combed the old newspaper archives from Singapore and established what is likely to have been the true additions in the original version: red cherry brandy (the drink was historically pink), lime juice, and Benedictine (and a few dashes of bitters). I’ve chosen to make Whitechapel’s version (a modern gin joint in San Francisco) of this classic, which sticks to the original formula. It’s one of the best. Cheers!

Dots a nice pair

Singapore Sling (Whitechapel)

1 ½ oz London dry gin
¾ oz Cherry Heering
¾ oz Benedictine
1 oz lime
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Club soda

Build the ingredients in an ice filled Collins glass, top with the club soda, and give it a stir. Garnish with a little red dot.

For more from Yasuaki Kikuchi see:
Know L

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Things That Go Boom

It’s been a little while since I featured something from my friend on the other side of the world. It’s amazing to think that he is experiencing winter now, while it’s getting unbearably hot in my corner. The world spins on its axis, the seasons change, and life goes on.

Ze Bomb by Stephen Chin

Such is not the case with Stephen Chin’s icosahedron puzzles. Stephen likes to take complex interlocking polyhedral objects, such as the humble cube, and “turn” them into practically impossible objects by spinning them on his lathe to create spheres, footballs, apples, and in this particular case, bombs.  These creations are all based on the original work by Wayne Daniels, who discovered a way to dissect an icosahedron into ten similar interlocking parts which require simultaneous movement to come together and to come apart. The icosahedron is one of the five Platonic Solids, objects which are composed of faces which are each identical (congruent), regular (equilateral), and which have the same number of faces meeting at each vertex. For example, a cube is made up of identical squares, and three squares meet at each and every point (vertex). The icosahedron is also Platonic, composed of twenty equilateral triangles with twelve vertices where five triangles meet. In Wayne Daniel’s dissection, there are two sets of five identical pieces, which are mirror images of each other (“right-handed” and “left-handed” pieces) and compose the top and bottom halves of the final shape. He was certain that having ten identical pieces was impossible. But Stephen Chin is, as the saying goes, “the bomb”.

Spin it, and watch it go "boom"!

Stephen set out to achieve the impossible and ultimately succeeded, being the first to notice a possible solution for ten identical pieces. George Bell created a program to search for all possibilities and ultimately determined there was only one other piece shape that could work, and it would not support the magic “angle” that Stephen had deduced. Thus, Dr. Chin’s creation remains unique, with ten identical pieces and a mechanism unlike any other. In his version, the ten piece icosahedron is literally turned into a sphere, so that it can be spun, and the forces pulling at the pieces as they spin will ultimately lead to an explosion of all ten coming apart at once. By adjusting the internal angle just right, he achieves a bit of delay, such that the sphere will spin for a few seconds before finally exploding. This occurs as the spin axis finally coincides with the disassembly axis for the coordinate motion. It’s a fantastic mechanism and worth the struggle to reassemble everything just to watch it happen over and over again. If creating a working identical ten piece icosahedron assembly wasn’t impossible enough, just consider that it explodes into ten pieces if it is spun – yet it must be spun at incredibly high speed on the lathe in order to create it. An impossible object indeed. Of course, Stephen is never content, so has turned the sphere into other clever shapes as well, such as the beautiful apple (“1 Pinko Ringo”) and “Ze Bomb” seen here. Technically these do not have identical pieces, but the aesthetics are wonderful. Crafted in various exotic hardwoods, these pieces are some of the most beautiful functional pieces of mathematical art.

"Ze Bomb" adapted from Jillian Vose

All this geometry makes me need a drink. I’ve mixed up a fun and funky riff on a tiki style classic to toast this incredible creation. The original comes from mixologist Jillian Vose, a Cape Cod native who is a rock star in the New York mixology scene. She is currently the beverage director at The Dead Rabbit, twice named the World’s Best Bar, among many other accolades which she helped achieve.  This recipe comes from her prior time at Death and Company, another iconic bar, and can be found in their essential cocktail book.  While gin is an unusual base spirit for a tiki recipe, it works well in her drink, in the form of “Old Tom” gin, a malty-er, sweeter, old fashioned style of gin resurrected in modern times. She named the drink the “Tom Bomb” because of it.

Zucca makes a surprise appearance

I’ve swapped out the Old Tom for something even odder for a tiki recipe, an Italian amaro. This drink is toasting one seriously odd fellow, after all. I’ve used Zucca, an unusual amaro featuring the rich and earthy flavor of Chinese rhubarb root. Combined with pineapple, lemon, orgeat (almond syrup), acacia honey, and a classic mix of vanilla and allspice syrup known as “Donn’s Mix #2” (in honor of Donn Beach, one of the original tiki pioneers from the 1930’s), the drink is tiki heaven, and the Zucca is a surprise hit which works amazingly well. In fact, it’s “Ze Bomb”! Here’s to turning things around in new and fantastic ways, and hoping they don’t explode on you, unless of course, you want them to. Cheers!

This pair is the bomb!

Ze Bomb adapted from Jillian Vose

1 oz Zucca

½ oz gin

¼ oz Donn’s Spices #2 (1:1 mix of vanilla syrup and Allspice Dram)
½ oz lemon
½ oz pineapple
¼ oz orgeat
¼ oz acacia honey syrup

Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. No garnish required, but let’s face it, garnishes make life more fun.

For more from Stephen Chin:
Fruits of Labor
Pure Genie-us
The Fraulein's Fall

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Curve Balls

“Don’t stop me know, I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball” – Queen

Eric Fuller has got some balls. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a new puzzle box design from the curator of finely crafted puzzles and master of mischief. He’s been busy making incredible interlocking, maze and packing puzzle designs while he refines his business model. No matter, everything he makes is top notch, as many collector well know. He hasn’t produced an original secret opening box in almost three years, but that has now changed.

Multiball by Eric Fuller

Eric has never been content to create a typical puzzle box. Almost all of his original designs involve some novel mechanism which must be understood anew, or enacted in a clever way. He likes to, and is extremely talented at, create diversions and misdirection. His boxes keep you on your toes, keep you guessing, and keep you frustrated, at least for a while. Most of us see this as a good thing, and derive great satisfaction from solving something challenging yet possible, as opposed to something so difficult or random as to be practically impossible. It’s a tricky balance to get right.

Fuller gets the ball rolling 

Eric’s newest box is “Multiball”, a sturdy, sold feeling box expertly crafted from Ash, Wenge and Walnut woods. The distinguishing feature is a narrow acrylic window on one side which allows a view of four steel ball bearings, which roll back and forth. Move the box around and a few more interactions become apparent. There appear to be steel pins which drop in and out of place here and there as well. Multiball is classic Fuller. Take some time to observe, and it might seem obvious what is going on, and what needs doing. Most likely, this “knowledge” will change over time. The box reminds me of the old fake Mark Twain saying about how “it’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”. (Fake because this quote is usually attributed to Twain, who never said it. The true origins are an interesting but lengthy aside.) Multiball plays a really devious trick on you, and even after you understand, it remains difficult to separate truth from fiction at times. I spent many days trying to work out just exactly what is going on inside that box, and even after finally understanding, correctly, what needs to be done and why, found it very challenging to come up with a good plan to get it done. Multiball was worth the wait, and Eric has a lot more new puzzle box designs in the works as well.

Smoke and Mirrors by Melissa Yard

I’m toasting this new box from one of the puzzle world’s most unique characters with a fitting tribute. The name of this cocktail is irresistible, so naturally there are quite a few versions available out there. A good name is hard to hold onto in the drinks world, and is seldom trademarked or copyrighted. The best someone can hope is for their drink to become so famous that no one would think to use the name again, something that doesn’t happen very often. I’ve chosen to use the recipe offered by Melissa Yard, Georgia native and current bar manager at Josephine Wine Bar in Charleston, South Carolina. She’s a well known mixologist and sommelier in Atlanta and now Charleston, and her drink was featured in Imbibe magazine, one of the Industry’s most popular magazines and a common source of inspiration for me.

Mezcal is the belle of the ball

Yard’s cocktail features the smoky allure of mezcal, one of the most complex and interesting spirits with countless regional varieties to explore. She adds a delicious mix of pineapple, ginger and spice, which sets this drink apart from your every day margarita. In the original recipe she uses a spicy pineapple jalapeño syrup and separate ginger syrup. I often try to simplify my cocktails a bit, so for example here I made a single pineapple and ginger syrup, and added the spice with some habanero bitters. (Maybe you don’t think that is simplifying things and you may be right.) The egg white adds texture and fluff, and is an essential ingredient for some in a truly proper sour. The resulting cocktail is something special, full of mystery and perfect to accompany a tricky puzzle. Here’s to finding the proper balance, in everything we pursue. Cheers!

Keep an eye on these balls

Smoke and Mirrors by Melissa Yard

1½ oz mezcal
½ oz orange liqueur
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz ginger syrup
½ oz pineapple jalapeño syrup
1 fresh egg white (pasteurized, if you like)
Garnish: cayenne mix (1:1:1 sugar to salt to cayenne)

Dry shake all the ingredients together without ice to combine. Add ice, shake again to chill, then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish.

For more about Eric Fuller:

Saturday, June 1, 2019

All Greek to Me

It’s time for another installment of “Locks and Libations”, the occasional puzzle lock digressions of a puzzle box collector. This unique creation comes from the mind of Greek American Constantine Bovalis, a mechanical design engineer from Illinois. Constantine notes that the inspiration for his puzzle creations comes in a roundabout way from traditional Japanese puzzle boxes, which he says yield up their secrets fairly easily after simply moving a few things around here and there. He does everything he can to make his creations the exact opposite! He believes that a good puzzle is logically deducible despite being tricky, and that a real challenge is to design something which is difficult to solve while remaining perfectly visible. With that in mind he prefers to have everything on display in his puzzles, with nothing at all hidden.

Bovalis Lock

He created an original puzzle box with transparent acrylic sides, full of gears and exposed mechanisms. It proved quite popular and led to a collaboration with collector Matthew Dawson, who requested he make a new puzzle in the shape of a padlock. The object would be to release a trapped coin. From this modest description the Bovalis Lock was born, rather quickly, as it turns out. Constantine has a quick mind and immediately sat down to design the lock, producing a working model within two weeks and a functional prototype a week after that. 

Fine gears drive multiple overlapping mechanisms

He 3D prints most of the parts himself using a very smooth PLA filament and does the final constructions. He outsources the complex gears which have such tiny notches he is not satisfied with his own printing efforts. The locks are a great example of what can be accomplished these days with 3D printing.  The puzzle is just as described, a fully visible mechanical enigma full of gears and levers. Every interaction can be seen, but it is not immediately apparent what must be done to free the coin. The colorful parts add to the enjoyment. The lock even won an award, for best mechanical / geometrical design (also known as the “Euclid” award) at the 2018 Megistian Aenigma Agon, the premier puzzle competition held on the Greek Isle Kastellorizo and hosted by Pantazis Houlis.  

The Preppy Handbook, an "unlocked cocktail"

As with many of the previous Locks and Libations pairings, I’m offering another “unlocked cocktail” to complement the Bovalis Lock. This is
my name for “zero-proof” cocktails, aka non-alcoholic, aka “mocktails”, a term I avoid for fear of being mocked. In lieu of high proof spirits with actual alcohol, zero-proof drinks often employ other ingredients with strong or interesting flavors as a base ingredient, then add other components often found in a classic cocktail. They don’t skimp on the culinary effort and can rival anything else on the menu. These days there are also non-alcoholic distilled spirits available as well, which evoke complex flavors recognizably similar to common spirits but without the proof.

Seedlip Garden, green tea and berry jam

The first non-alcoholic distilled spirit, and one of the best, is from the Seedlip distillery, which makes a range of three different varieties. This recipe uses the “Garden”, full of fresh green peas, hay, and flavors from the English countryside. I’ve made a traditional sour with crisp fresh lime juice, and added some green tea for a more complex and unexpected twist. I used a special green tea as well, zhuyeqing, which is also known as Bamboo Leaf due to its shape, and is a prize winning tea from modern China. Finally the sweetness is derived from berry jam, which adds texture as well as a vibrant pink color.  The combination of pink and green made me think of the old “preppy” uniform from the eighties, which is how I came up with the name. Unlock this cocktail for yourself sometime, for something different, like the transparent creations of Constantine Bovalis. Cheers!

Unlock this pleasant pair

Preppy Handbook

2 oz Seedlip Garden
1 oz fresh lime
½ oz green tea
1 tbs berry jam

Shake ingredients together over ice and strain into a tea cup. Garnish with a lime twist.

For more Locks and Libations with “unlocked cocktails” see: