Saturday, August 8, 2015

Incredibly Perplexing Pairing

It’s time for another Canadian theme, at least in part, due to a group of intriguing, playful people who shall otherwise remain incognito, perchance preferably.  In keeping with that spirit, this post is a bit of a puzzle itself.  You may have noted that the puzzle box and cocktail pairings share a common theme of sorts, sometimes obviously so, other times as more of a “stretch”, if you will.  See if you can determine what links this week’s puzzle box to its cocktail.  A more detailed explanation will be provided in a follow up post, along with the winning comments.

The Crypsis Box by Kel Snake

The “Crypsis” is a playful puzzle box designed and crafted by Canadian Kel Snake.  He typical creates intricate locking mechanisms which he retrofits into existing wooden boxes with varying levels of difficulty.  The term crypsis, which refers to the natural ability of some creatures to avoid detection or “hide in plain site”, could apply nicely to many of his boxes.  Sometimes he starts from scratch and builds the whole box as well.  One of the greatest examples of this is to be seen in his “Lost Treasure of One TinSoldier” puzzle, which I have discussed previously.  The Crypsis is another, beautifully crafted from from Curly Maple, Walnut, Purpleheart, American Holly, Lacewood, and Poplar.  It has whimsical knobs sticking out of each side which resemble oreos or lollipops.  There is a butterfly that adorns the top which has lovely painted wings made of feathers.  And there are little strings coming from each side with metal butterfly beads, which can be gently pulled on although nothing seems to occur.  This is an extremely fun box to solve for many reasons.  The beauty of the craftsmanship makes it a joy to handle.  There are many knobs, but not so many you get confused or lose track. And the level of difficulty is balanced well, so it takes a little time and experimentation but eventually most will find themselves at the solution.   Which is the most fun of all!  Kel has added a bit of mischief to this puzzle which gets revealed at the end, and I would hate to spoil the surprise.

Are those Oreos?  Maybe lollipops?

For the Crypsis box I made the “Sierra Madre Sunrise” cocktail, created by Elana Lepkowski, and made with mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice, club soda and in my case, chocolate bitters.  This is a wonderful cocktail to try at home if you have never had either mezcal or Aperol.  Mezcal is the oft misunderstood cousin of tequila.  You should feel bad for mezcal, because I don’t think it has its own day like tequila and the others lucky spirits.  Any spirit made from the agave plant can actually be considered a “mezcal”, so tequila is a form of mezcal which has far more restrictions on how and where it is made.  Traditional mezcal is made by roasting the heart of the agave plant in underground wood-fired pits, which lends it the distinctive smoky taste.  Fine mezcal is as complex, smooth and refined as fine bourbon or cognac.  

The Sierra Madre Sunrise by Elana Lepkowski

What about Aperol?  We will have to explore the Italian “Amaro” liqueurs in detail one day, but by way of introduction I will explain that the Italians are so serious about their food, which we all know is incredible, that they have special drinks which help “prime” the stomach before the meal, called aperitifs, and drinks to help digest the meal afterwards, called digestifs.  Aperol is an aperitif, similar to Campari, which I love and have written about before, but lighter in color and flavor.  In the Sierra Madre cocktail, it compliments the mezcal exceptionally well.  The chocolate bitters bring out the orange flavors of the Aperol.  Combined with the lemon, and diluted by the sparkling water, the drink becomes a perfect summer sipper.  It’s a great introduction to these spirits because all the individual flavors are rendered more subtle and smooth.  Try it as you puzzle out the connection between the Sierra Madre cocktail and the Crypsis puzzle box.  To be continued …

What's the connection?

For more about Kel Snake:

For about Elana Lepkowski's Stir and Strain blog and to make her Sierra Madre Sunrise:


  1. I opened this box at the last Midlands Puzzle Party - the hidden surprise nearly gave me an MI (that's heart attack for the non medical readers). There was a video of my reaction posted by Steven Miller on Facebook if you can find it!


  2. I saw the box at IPP35 but didn't get around to playing with it as I had only two half days there and left the event early. How unfortunate!

  3. hopefully you'll run across it somewhere. Anyone you are in Houston let me know!