Saturday, December 19, 2015

Swayed by the Dark Side

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a seven year old boy went to the movies with his grandparents on his birthday.  He was just as thrilled as everyone else, watching what would become one of the icons of popular culture in our time.  I still remember my little R2D2 figurine, with its state of the art clicking noise generated by turning its head around.  It was also a thrill to watch the movies over again with my children, and carefully teach them about the merits of the original films over the “new ones”.  Now at last we have another trilogy coming, and the “new ones” will no doubt change in meaning.  While we all get in line for this momentous occasion, let’s contemplate a metaphorical puzzle box from the karakuri Jedi master himself, Akio Kamei. Kamei likes to revisit his concepts at times with series, and has made a number of follow ups to many of his boxes.  In this case, the “Rotary Box II” is quite different from the first version, in appearance, mechanism, and even size.

Rotary Box II by Akio Kamei

For comparison, let me explain about the first version.  Rotary Box I is a “spin” on the traditional Japanese puzzle box design, in which side panels slide in different longitudinal directions.  Kamei likes to turn things around, literally, with his designs, and designed Rotary Box I so the panels each twist instead.  But this is not the droid we are looking for.  The “RB2” is composed of two large halves, joined together to create a perfect, universal whole.  One half is entirely dark, while the other half is light.  Any motion created on one side can theoretically be seen as happening in the opposite direction on the other side.  It just depends on your perspective, relatively speaking.  There is a balance between the two halves.  They hold each other together, and are each required to reveal the potential space inside one another.  The question is, which side will you choose? Don’t get angry – or you might end up on the dark side.  Like most puzzle boxes, no “force” is required to open this one … or is it?

Almost as if they were perfectly cleaved with a light saber

The opening of another installment in the Jedi universe certainly calls for a good drink.  This one comes from Adam Bernbach, a Washington, D.C. area mixology Jedi, and relies heavily on a delicious fortified wine called Barolo Chinato.  Barolo is a sweet red wine from the Piedmont region of Italy.  Like many other vermouths, aperitifs and digestifs we have discussed, Barolo Chinato is created with a secret family recipe of herbs, plants and spices infused into the Barolo wine, including quinine, the same tree bark used to prevent malaria and make tonic water.  

The Darkside by Adam Bernbach. The gin is light and the Barolo is dark ... hmmm

In the “Darkside” cocktail, Bernbach combines the bittersweet wine with a subtle juniper gin and Peychaud bitters.  The gin complements the quinine flavors of the wine (as in a gin and tonic), while the Peychaud (a medicinal tonic developed in New Orleans in 1830 and used in the classic “Sazerac”) adds anise flavors to the mix.  The result is just right, with a blend of flavors reminiscent of the Negroni.  Perhaps you've already tried this cocktail, on a pit stop at the Mos Eisley Cantina, en route to Dagoba?  If not, go ahead and mix one up for yourself – this is one time it’s okay to be swayed by the Darkside.  And don’t forget to try a different pairing with the Barolo Chinato as well – many experts agree it is the perfect drink to enjoy with a piece of fine dark chocolate.  Cheers – and may the force be with you!

Don't be angry ... you can have one too

The Darkside by Adam Bernbach:
2 ½ oz Plymouth gin
1 oz Barolo Chinato
3 dashes Peychaud bitters
Twist of lime peel
1 whole star anise
Stir gin, Barolo Chinato and bitters together with ice. Strain into a glass.  Express the lime peel into the drink and garnish with it and the star anise. 

Balance has been restored to the galaxy

For more about Akio Kamei:

For Allard Walker’s review of the Rotary Box II:

For more about Adam Bernbach:

May the Force be with you!

1 comment:

  1. Great pairing of the box and the droid! I think the droid is much harder to solve than the box even if you are on the side of the light and the force is with you!