Saturday, July 4, 2015

Red, White and Blue

For Independence day we are celebrating at Boxes and Booze with a specially themed combo.  The Fourth of July is about celebrating America’s birth as an independent nation, so our puzzle is based right in the heart of America’s capital city.  The Washington Monument is a sequential discovery type puzzle designed, crafted and presented at the 2012 International Puzzle Party in Washington, D.C. by Brian Young, aka “Mr. Puzzle”.  The puzzle is a beautiful replica of the monument and even includes a tiny elevator which takes tiny people up to the tiny observation deck.  Really.  Well, my copy has that, anyway.  It’s crafted in wood from “white” Queensland Ash and “red” Australian Jarra, but where’s the “blue”?  

The Washington Monument puzzle by Brian Young ("Mr. Puzzle")

The goal of this puzzle is to take it apart, find the ”blue” hiding inside, and put it all back together again.  The closest you  might get toward this goal is “feeling” blue.  Brian Young is completely devious in his designs so the easiest way might be to light a firecracker under this puzzle.  Now, I know you’re saying, it’s not a box.  I thought this was a “boxes” and booze blog.  I allowed for some non-box puzzles too with the very first post, so we’re good.  Besides, there is a small space deep inside the puzzle which is revealed once the puzzle has been taken apart, so technically this could be considered a box after all.  This puzzle is not for the faint of heart.  The mechanism used to get it open requires some serious lateral thinking and patience.  Mostly it will have you spinning around in circles.  You might even see fireworks for the July Fourth holiday, from bashing your head against the wall.

Red, White, and Blue!

To make this puzzling experience so much more fun, combine it with the “Red, White and Bourbon” cocktail.  This patriotic potion is a simple variation on two wonderful classic cocktails, the Boulevardier and the Old Pal.  Both of these two old cocktails can also be considered as variations of the classic Negroni, which we highlighted a few weeks ago during Negroni week.  That cocktail famously combines equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari.  The Boulevardier and the Old Pal both date back to about 1927, during Prohibition time in America, when you had to find yourself in Paris, at Harry’s New York Bar, and mingle amongst the expats and literati, to enjoy a great cocktail.  Harry McElhone, the proprietor, wrote about these cocktails in his book from that era, “Barflies and Cocktails”, and true to the title, he describes the drinks as well as the regulars who invented them.  The Boulevardier, which substituted bourbon for the gin but otherwise maintained the 1:1:1 Negroni proportions of bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari, was the favorite drink and creation of Erskine Gwynn, an American expat who came to Paris in 1927 to start a magazine styled after the New Yorker, which was called, you guessed it, the “Boulevardier”.  The Old Pal cocktail was slightly modified from this.  The bourbon was switched for high proof rye whisky, and the original recipe called for dry vermouth rather than sweet.  The original proportions remained equal, but more modern recipes double the rye for a 2:1:1 ration.  Harry McElhone also recounts this drink’s creator, the sports writer William “Sparrow” Robinson, who was apparently fond of calling everyone “my old pal” and who dedicated the drink to his old pal, McElhone.  For the “Red, White and Bourbon” cocktail I use the bourbon from the Boulevardier, and the dry white vermouth from the Old Pal, with modern proportions which let the bourbon balance better with the Campari, for an American take on these old favorites.

The "Red White and Bourbon (1776)" Cocktail

The Red, White and Bourbon Cocktail (1776 Cocktail):
1 1/2 oz bourbon
3/4 oz dry white vermouth
3/4 oz Campari
Stir over ice, pour and garnish with lemon peel.  Firecracker optional.

Show your independence this July 4th and try any one of these great cocktails while solving a puzzle, watching some fireworks, or making some fireworks of your own!

Happy 4th of July!

For more information about the Washington Monument puzzle:

For more on the Boulevardier cocktail:

For more on the Old Pal cocktail:

1 comment:

  1. Washington monument is a great puzzle and most of us solved it by accident and then worked out the correct solution only after it was opened! Absolutely unique just like the drink you described - thanks for reminding ding me to go and play with it again.