Saturday, April 23, 2016

Navigating the Northshore

Boxes and Booze has been rambling on for almost a year now – next week will be the anniversary post.  It seems fitting that I find my way to that milestone with the help of a “navigator”.  Although in this case, I may not have chosen wisely, since, as the creator of this puzzle box points out, “directions are pointless”.  Thomas Cummings has been making puzzle boxes for his family and friends in his Georgia workshop for years.  Some recipients of his handiwork have apparently deserved particularly devious designs, and Thomas seems to relish the opportunity to inflict his puzzle passion on the willing.  He offers his creations through his “Eden Workx” shop, where he explains his fascination with secret spaces, hidden panels and hiding places.  

The Navigator's Box by Thomas Cummings

His “Navigator’s Box” is a 4 inch square cube shaped box made from reclaimed wood, brass, aluminum and bamboo.  It’s stained and finished with French polish with a patina to give it an aged appearance, which looks quite nice.  The distinguishing feature is a compass “rose” on the top – on my box it’s a purple seven pointed star.  There is also a wooden tab sticking out of what appears to be the front of the box, clearly locking things in place.  A bit of exploration reveals that this star may be “key” in solving the puzzle and opening the box.  It seems to twist and turn here and there, without apparent rhyme or reason.  There are multiple pathways and solutions to take, which makes things both easier and more confusing if you get lost.  Cummings has also built in cul-de-sacs and back-tracks to befuddle the weary traveler.  I could try to explain this better, but directions are pointless.  The Navigator’s Box is a great looking little puzzle box which is not simple but not too challenging, and seems to change pathways each time you open it, making it fun to open over and over again.

This compass rose needs re-calibration ...

I’ve paired it up with the “Northshore” cocktail by Jason Asher, head mixologist at Young’s Market in Scotsdale, Arizona and the innovative pop up “Counter Intuitive”.  He created this modern riff on the classic tiki genre at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in 2011 as part of Kara Newman’s seminar, “Whisky is the New Black”.  It’s a cool name for a booze seminar so I just had to share.  The Northshore uses a blended scotch whisky, which technically means there is at least one component of single malt scotch in the batch, and that all the scotch in it comes from Scotland.  For the scotch aficionado, the thought of mixing a single malt into a cocktail is often anathema, but using a blend allows the purist to save face and try something truly interesting.  

The Northshore cocktail by Jason Asher

The excellent smokiness of the "Peat Monster" scotch blend from Compass Box whisky shines through perfectly and is balanced nicely by the sweet fruit flavors.  You could use another peaty, smoky scotch blend as well but the smokiness is important in this cocktail.  The drink is rich, layered and utterly delicious.  It’s a pleasure to get lost in while enjoying it – I won’t explain exactly how, since “directions are pointless”.  You’ll have to find out for yourself.  Cheers!

No directions needed ... to enjoy this pair

Northshore cocktail by Jason Asher:

¾ oz Compass Box Peat Monster (or other smoky profile scotch blend)
½ oz hibiscus liqueur (such as Hum)
¾ oz orgeat (almond syrup, such as Monin)
½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice (such as fresh squeezed lime juice)
Lemon strip

Shake everything over ice and strain into a favorite glass.  Garnish with the lemon peel.

For more information about Thomas Cummings and Eden Workx:

For more information about mixologist Jason Asher:

For a prior “navigational” puzzle box please see:

For prior “tiki” themed cocktails please see:

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