Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trick and Treat

It’s time to brew up a frighteningly fiendish puzzle and potion pairing. It is Halloween, after all.  It turns out that October 31 is also National “Knock-Knock” joke day, which calls to mind the classic Halloween gem: Knock knock … Who’s there? … Boo! … Boo who? … Oh, don’t cry!  It’s just me!  Hooo, give me a minute, that’s just too funny.  Hmmm, you’re groaning?  Excellent, groans are good on Halloween.  What’s that you say?  You want another?  Something specifically puzzle box related?  Well, sure, if you insist.  Knock knock… Who’s there?... Wooden Box Fan… Wooden Box Fan who?... Wooden Box Fan-tasia sound lovely right now?  Yes, but I much prefer the Brandenberg concertos.  Ba-dum!  

The Always Empty Box by Phil Tomlinson

If that awful joke didn't scare you off already, you may be a zombie.  On this All Hallows Eve, I present a puzzle box which is “all hollow”, or as its maker, Phil Tomlinson describes it, “always empty”.  Phil Tomlinson is a fine cabinet and puzzle box maker from Cincinnati Ohio, who created the “Always Empty” box out of Black Walnut, Curly Maple, Bloodwood, Rock Maple and Pawlownia woods.  The box has lovely inlaid arcs across the top, beautifully contrasting colors on the top (?) and bottom (?), and fine edge details.  It has a satiny polished finish which makes it a pleasure to handle.  The puzzle box has a surprising, unique first step movement to open it, and a couple more surprises in store after that as well.  There is nothing inside the box.  Nothing.  It’s … always empty.  It’s quite frightening, especially on Halloween.  But don’t shout – that’s a different box.

It's so full of beautiful details and fine finishes.  But somehow it leaves you feeling so ... empty

To calm your shaking nerves, and especially if you really are a zombie, I’ll make you the perfect drink.  This potent potion was intended to rejuvenate, reinvigorate and reconstitute the bedraggled bon vivant in Prohibition era London who might have had one too many the evening prior.   Harry Craddock was a cocktail pioneer who left the US and established himself as head bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London during American prohibition.  There he created the “Corpse Reviver #2”, which first appeared in print in his famous “Savoy Cocktail Book” published in 1930, and has since been widely felt to be the best of the “reviver” series.  The drink was intended as a “hair of the dog” remedy, and was best imbibed “before 11 am, or whenever steam and energy are needed,” as Craddock explains.   

The Corpse Reviver #2 by Harry Craddock

The combination of savory gin, Cointreau for a little sweetness, Lillet for a mild bitterness, lemon juice for its tart smack, and a dash of absinthe to pull it all together, make for a perfect cocktail.  The bitterness of Lillet, an aromatized wine aperitif from France, was originally imparted by quinine from cinchona bark (the flavor in tonic water and protector from malaria), back when it was known as “Kina Lillet”.  The recipe was changed in 1986 to the much milder “Lillet Blanc” available today.  The Italian aperitif Cocchi Americano, with its bolder quinine flavor, is now considered to be the closest modern substitute for the defunct Kina Lillet, and is often substituted to recreate the classics.  The Corpse Reviver #2 is a sophisticated sipper which will put the color back in your cheeks, or reanimate your misguided mad scientist grave digging adventure, Dr. Frankenstein.  Just beware of Harry Craddock’s famous warning: “Four of these taken in swift succession will quickly unrevive the corpse again.”  Happy haunting!

The glass is all full and the box is all empty ... a trick and a treat.  Happy Halloween!

For the Corpse Reviver #2 recipe:

1 comment:

  1. I love that box! I got to play with Allard's copy! Such a great craftsman! But I must resist the lure!