Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Heart Shaped Box

To love, that power of the universe, in all its forms and frames.  Last year for Valentine’s Day, I explored the likely origins of this commercialized holiday, with a slightly cynical eye.  If that wasn’t enough, I even objectified it completely into mathematical geometrical formulas.  You might have enjoyed my observations, they were rather entertaining.  But don’t get the wrong idea from all that, I’m really a sentimental fool.  To prove it, I’ll embrace this year’s Valentine’s Day full on, with the perfect puzzle box and love potion pairing.  There’s no chance you won’t be smitten.

Valentine's Day by Tatsuo Miyamoto

There are many heart-shaped puzzle boxes to choose from, including the Love Box No. 5 by Akio Kamei which I featured this time last year.  Tatsuo Miyamoto, another long-time Karakuri Creation Group artist, has also created a few such boxes, but he even went so far as to name his most recent one the “Valentine’s Day” box.  So of course, that’s the one we need to discuss.  How could we not? Not only is it a heart shaped box, but it has an adorable motif as well.  Two lovers (one reddish, one brownish – we are not going to gender assign or stereotype here) adorn the top of the box, separate but yearning to do whatever it is these lovers wish to do.  If you could only help them, the universe will reward them, and you, with its secrets.  Secret compartments, at any rate.  The Valentine’s Day box was the “Waku Waku” prize winner of the 7th annual Karakuri Idea Contest, based on an original idea by Mineo Kumagai which was brought to life by Miyamoto.  “Waku waku” translates roughly as the feeling of being happy or excited.  I have to agree, this box is so cute, and makes you happy.

A secret love ...

Now, what would be just the absolute, most perfect potion pairing for this Valentine’s Day puzzle box?  I’ll spare you the suspense, since we’re all about the happy feelings right now, and introduce you to this cocktail, created by Brad Farran and featured in the Death and Company Modern Classic Cocktails book. 

The Heart-shaped Box by Brad Farran

The “Heart-shaped Box” is perfectly named and hits all the right notes for this holiday.  It’s built around cognac, which is rather elegant, and sweetened with strawberry (naturally), elderflower liqueur (how romantic) and cinnamon syrup (exotic, too).  Lemon juice brightens the mix, but not enough to let things go sour.  Finally a little secret ingredient, balsamic vinegar, really ties it all together in a sophisticated manner, and elevates this drink from superficial flirtation to complicated true love.  I’ve even created a little citrus cupid to go with the drink, made from lemon, lime and blood orange peels, with a brandied cherry noggin. If that doesn’t make you smile, go get yourself a hug, in a hurry. This Valentine’s Day, don’t be puzzled by love – it’s not something you need to solve, anyway. Here’s a toast to the ones we love – our friends, our family.  Cheers!

Open your heart to these heart shaped boxes
Wine comes in at the mouth, and love comes in at the eye; That's all we shall know for truth, before we grow old and die. I lift the glass to my mouth, I look at you, and I sigh.
-          William Butler Yeats

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind”

Heart-shaped Box by Brad Farran

1 ripe strawberry
2 oz cognac
¾ oz elderflower liqueur
¾ oz lemon juice
¼ oz cinnamon syrup
½ tsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 dash Angostura bitters

Muddle the strawberry in a shaker tin, then add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a favorite glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with another strawberry. Drink as many as required to find true love.

 For more about Tatsuo Miyamoto:

For last year’s Valentine’s Day offerings including the chocolate negroni: