Saturday, April 30, 2016

Anniversary Over-Easy

It’s the one-year anniversary of Boxes and Booze.  I thought about what puzzle and potion combination I should commemorate this special (for me!) occasion with for a while.  Perhaps a very special puzzle, or an extremely complicated one, matched with an equally complex cocktail full of incredible ingredients and specially made syrups.  I’ve certainly done that before!  But I decided to go back to the beginning, as it were, and commemorate my little endeavor with a nod to my first post, one year ago.  It’s one of the better posts I’ve done, and definitely worth checking out if you haven’t read it.  I chose the theme of beginnings, appropriately enough, represented by the egg, and described the fiendishly frustrating Egg puzzle by Dutch puzzle designer Will Strijbos.  Ironically, for a blog called Boxes and Booze, the Egg puzzle is not actually a puzzle box, but a beautiful object of confusion nonetheless.  You might even say it’s a “Deviled Egg”.  I didn't want to box myself in from the start.  If you’re curious, it’s all in that first post.  Of course, to compliment the Egg puzzle, I made a few cocktails which included egg in the ingredients.  Actually just the egg white, which gives a cocktail a luscious texture and foaminess.  Fast forward 1 year on, and I present to you another egg – this time an actual puzzle box, too.

Egg by Akio Kamei

Akio Kamei is no stranger to this blog.  He is the current leader of the Karakuri Creation Group, a group of wood artisans keeping the art of Japanese puzzle box making alive and well in Hakone, Japan.  Kamei began crafting unusual designs and opening mechanisms into his puzzle boxes many years before he helped found the creation group.  Some of his earliest designs are famous for the way they incorporate logical opening movements which depend on what the puzzle is made to represent.  One of his earliest designs was a large wooden egg which hides a little chick inside, if only the logical puzzler can determine how to release it.   These original eggs are extremely rare and scarce, perhaps from careless cooks cracking them on the floor, who knows.  Kamei went on to update the opening mechanism later on, figuring out how to shrink it down and thus allowing the egg to shrink as well, and resemble an actual egg in size.  These “mini” eggs, originally created in 1999, are still readily available today.  They are a great little puzzle challenge which shouldn’t keep you scratching your own egghead for too long, unless you don’t “think” things through.  Compared to Strijbos’s egg they are child’s play.  I say that with all due humility, and if you have read my very first post about that devilish egg, you will know what I’m talking about.

How cute!

For the anniversary cocktail I thought we should go “all in”.  That is, use the whole egg, rather than just the egg white.  Eggs have been finding their way into cocktails, believe it or not, for centuries.  Various terms have been used to describe these concoctions but classically they are known as “flips” and “eggnogs”.  The flip began life in the 1690’s as a hot mixture of beer, rum and sugar, frothed up with a hot poker known as a "flip-dog" (as to why the hot poker was called a "flip-dog", one can only speculate - I don't think I would have wanted to be a dog back then).  Eventually, someone added a whole egg and turned it into a cold drink, improved by “flipping” the contents back and forth between pitchers to mix before serving.  Recipes for flips first appeared in “Professor” Jerry Thomas’s classic guide, "How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion” in 1862.  Eggnog came along later, and adds cream to the mix.  But some flips now have cream too, so the distinction isn’t as clear anymore.  It’s all pretty delicious either way.  

The Flipped Life - go ahead, you deserve it!

I have created a drink celebrating the egg which I call the “Flipped Life” cocktail.  It has all the good stuff.  Sweet sherry, smoky scotch, a rich syrup made with demerara sugar, heavy cream, and, of course, a whole egg.  This is no spring sipper, but you deserve it anyway.  I’d like to toast everyone for putting up with my ramblings about cocktail history, and thank you all for reading, and hopefully, enjoying, my writing.  Cheers!

These two are eggsactly right for the occasion

The Flipped Life

1 oz Pedro Ximénez Sherry
1 oz Peat Monster Scotch (or other peat forward scotch)
½ oz demerara syrup (or rich simple syrup)
½ heavy cream
1 whole (pasteurized) egg
2-3 dashed Jerry Thomas Barrel Aged Bitters

Shake everything together vigorously for about 1 minute without ice.  Add ice and shake another 20 seconds to chill, then strain into a favorite glass.  Grate fresh nutmeg on top.

For more information about Akio Kamei:

For the previous “egg” themed post, please see the very first Boxes and Booze:


  1. Cheers my friend! Happy anniversary - here's to many more years of puzzling, drinking fine spirits and blogging about them! Do try and look after your liver though!


    1. Thanks Kevin. I'm just trying to "liv-er little" ...

  2. Excellent work this year. I've greatly enjoyed the puzzle info and the philosophical musings at least as much. Please don't stop.

    Mike d

    1. Thanks Mike. I really appreciate it. Also enjoy your guest appearances on Puzzlemad ... Cheers!