Sunday, June 28, 2015

High Standards

Two weeks ago I delved into the traditions and history of Japanese puzzle box making.  Traditional such boxes typically have sliding panels on the sides and top, often on the bottom, and sometimes hidden within the side panels as well.  In that post I presented a “new” type of box in which all 6 side panels moved in coordinated motion.  Today I present a box which at first appears to conform to the “standard” moves found in traditional Japanese puzzle boxes, but holds a secret (!) which turns the convention inside out.  The “Byways Secret” box series by Hiroshi Iwahara present 4 boxes which are not standard at all.  Here is number 2 in the series, in walnut and yellow wood patterned inlay.  Initially the box appears to open fairly easily, in the “standard” fashion, but it will require 10 more moves involving a surprising, non-traditional mechanism, to reveal the second secret compartment.  The design is refreshing and gives a great spin on “thinking outside the box”.

The Byways Secret 2 by Hiroshi Iwahara

To compliment this non-standard puzzle box try the “Standard” cocktail from James Menite, as featured in Brian Van Flandern’s excellent book “Craft Cocktails”.  Both of these mixologists were instrumental to the renaissance of craft cocktails in New York City over the past decade.  Ironically, there appear to be two different recipes for Menite’s “Standard”.  However, both “Standard” recipe incorporates fresh ruby red grapefruit juice, one of my favorite ingredients in just about anything.  Living in Texas has many pros and cons as with anywhere, but our Rio Star Ruby Red grapefruits are the best, most delicious gems in the world.  Forget about cocktails, you should try my ruby red grapefruit sorbet someday, you will be convinced.  In addition to grapefruit, the cocktail includes lemon juice, yellow Chartreuse, and gin.  It’s bright, refreshing and delicious.  It may quickly become your “standard” too.

The Standard Cocktail by James Menite
The Standard (from Craft Cocktails, Brian Van Flandern, Assouline Press)
1 oz fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
1 1/2 oz juniper forward gin (such as Bombay Sapphire)
4 dashes orange bitters
Shake over ice, strain, grapefruit peel garnish

A pair of unusual standards.  Cheers from Houston, the most diverse city in America.

For more about Hiroshi Iwahara:

For the Craft Cocktail version of the Standard:

For an alternate version of James Menite's Standard:

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I'm ready for your sorbet now! Can I play with the box too?