Saturday, January 16, 2016

Breaking the Rules

Let's take a little excursion off the beaten path this time.  In fact, it will be more like ducking under the roped off barrier and wandering in the off-limits area where we aren't necessarily supposed to go, only to find something very interesting.  The Matchbox is a little gem of a puzzle box, co-created by Peter Hajek, Frank Chambers, and Ken Stevens.  It was puzzle exchanged by Peter in 2007.

The Matchbox by Peter Hajek, Frank Chambers and Ken Stevens

It’s constructed from Corian (the artificial stone material used on countertops) and brass.  It has a nice polish to it, fits well in the hand, feels very solid, and rattles a bit from something inside.  The drawer attached to the little brass knob won’t open, of course.  A little exploration and close inspection reveals a few things fairly quickly, but that only gets you so far.  No matter what you try based on what you have discovered, it doesn't seem to work and the little box remains locked. What makes this puzzle so interesting is how it “breaks the rules” so to speak, from what you might expect for this sort of thing.  You might not even consider the solution for a while, and if you do, it will surely make you feel uncomfortable, a bit, and hesitant to try it.  It all sounds so mysterious, I know, but there it is.  Break the rules, stray off the path, and be glad you did in the end.

I've met my match ...

What kind of cocktail, I hear you asking, would “match” well with this concept?  Something equally as hard to fathom, as rule breaking, as off putting an idea which in the end, turns out spectacularly well.  To understand how this might relate to a cocktail, you have to understand a bit about bitters.  Bitters, those little bottles of colorful liquid you see in some bars, sometimes going into your drink a drop or two at a time, are like cocktail seasoning.  They are made with pure alcohol, usually grain alcohol or even vodka, which has been infused over time with a medley of macerated herbs, spices, plants, and usually some bitter tree bark for good measure.  Bitters can be made from almost anything, to evoke unusual or creative flavors, such as baked apple or tamarind.  They were originally created by pharmacists or doctors, as medicinal elixirs.  They were so bitter and unpalatable that they would usually be mixed with something else tasty, like cognac, whiskey, or gin.  Many of the classic cocktails developed from this and have a few “dashes” of bitters in them.  The bitters bring out flavor and tie the other ingredients together, like adding salt to a recipe.

The Trinidad Sour by Guiseppe Gonzalez

Now that you understand all of this, you must realize that a cocktail would never have bitters featured as one of the main ingredients.   That would completely break the rules, be off putting, and give one serious pause before tasting.  One of the world’s most popular bitters, Angostura, was invented in 1864 by Dr. Johann Siegert as a medicine for Simon Bolivar’s army in the Venezuelan town of that name.  The production moved to Trinidad in 1875 where it remains today.  The “Trinidad Sour” is a paradigm shifting cocktail created by Giuseppe Gonzalez while at Brooklyn’s Clover Club for a cocktail competition.  He pushed the envelope, ignored dogma, left the path – are you surprised that he lost?  The real surprise is that it worked so well, and is a rewarding, delicious cocktail which stays with you in a delicious way.  Cheers to the rule breakers, to stepping out of the comfort zone, and finding something really satisfying.

It's so satisfying to break the rules!

For the Trinidad Sour recipe:

1 comment:

  1. Steven, this one sounds very interesting and intriguing!