Friday, December 23, 2016

Keys to the Kingdom

Happy Holidays!  The next winter themed installment evokes the Christmas “spirit” both figuratively and literally.  I’ll keep this one short and sweet so we can all get back to the holiday cheer.  Kanae Saito, an occasional contributor to the Karakuri Creation Group, is an artist whose work I wish we had more of to enjoy.  She created the Brothers, one of my favorite Karakuri boxes, which I wrote about for the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.  

Mouse Kingdom by Kanae Saito

One of the other very few boxes she has designed is “Mouse Kingdom”, which always reminds me of the Nutcracker story, so it seemed appropriate for this Christmas post.  Mouse Kingdom depicts a brave and clever little mouse who is hoisting the mouse flag over his (or her) dominion in triumph while the sleepy cat snoozes unaware on the other side of the wall.  Maybe the cat is dreaming of sugar plum fairies or cat nip laced eggnog, or merely trying to figure out how to open this box.  Meanwhile, the clever mouse has already learned the secret.  Let’s toast his victory with something apropos.

Sleeping cats dream while clever mice scheme

I’ve steered clear of the rich and decadent dessert cocktails synonymous with winter and the holidays for long enough.  It’s time to bring on the heavy cream.  Of course egg nog deserves a mention right now as well, but perhaps I’ll save that for next year.  If you are dying to add an egg, or perhaps I should say “flipping” over it, try the Flipped Life cocktail I paired with Kamei’s egg puzzle.  For the Mouse Kingdom, I felt the classic Brandy Alexander would be in order.  The Alexander was originally a gin drink, dating back to the turn of the twentieth century when it was likely created as part of a railroad add campaign by New York bartender Troy Alexander.  It first appears in Hugo Ensslin’s “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” (1915) as a combination of gin, crème de cacao and cream.  The brandy version showed up later, with many possible references as to why and for whom it was changed.  John Lennon famously enjoyed these “milkshakes” as well. 

Sugar Plum Brandy Alexander

I added a little sugar plum goodness to the mix as well for this version, which uses Jeff Morgenthaler’s equal proportions.  Interestingly, sugar plums originally referred to comfits, or candy coated seeds, nuts or bits of spice such as anise, and had nothing at all to do with plums.  Modern sugar plums are merely sugar hard candies.  So when history leaves us wanting, we can rewrite it and add plum jam instead.  The mouse won’t tell - just don’t wake the cat.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and good “cheers” to all.

Happy Holidays!

Sugar Plum Brandy Alexander

1 oz brandy
1 oz Crème de Cacao
1 oz heavy cream
1 barspoon sugar plum jam

Shake together well over ice and strain into a favorite glass. Grate fresh nutmeg over top.

For more about Kanae Saito:

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