Ahhh, Paris, the City of Light. I’m sending out a toast to my friends in France this week, to celebrate that luminous city and some intriguingly perplexing people who happen to be there. One of those people, let’s just call him “Mr. Puzzle”, has produced, in perfect proportion, a tiny replica of a palace which is also the world’s largest museum. We circle to the first arrondissement and marvel at I. Pei’s Pyramid to begin our cultural immersion. Presently, perhaps, we head straight to the most famous of art works housed therein, DaVinci’s Mona Lisa (is her smile impish? perturbed? pleased?) … only to find that it cannot be found. What sorcery is this? Go ask Brian.
|The Louvre by Brian Young|
Brain Young, that is, aka Mr. Puzzle, the brilliant, baffling and inimitable puzzle producer from Queensland. His shop is well stocked in the finest puzzles the world has to offer, many of which are designed and crafted by his own hands using exotic Australian hardwoods. His limited editions often reflect a specific location or famous landmark, such as his award winning Big Ben sequential discovery puzzle. His newest offering, another sequential discovery puzzle, is “The Louvre”, a mini model of the famous museum crafted from indigenous prized Papua New Guinean Rosewood. A nice engraving of the museum façade adorns the puzzle’s front surface, which is studded with metal ornamentation. There is a hole on top, purportedly for a flag pole, and you are given a few instructions. You must search the Louvre, recover the lost masterpiece, and raise the French flag high in victory, to solve the intended puzzle properly. Since the painting is hidden inside, protectively placed, this is technically a puzzle box. Anyway I’ve made plenty of exceptions for Brian Young's work in the past, it’s much too much fun to pass up. The Louvre has three separate locks to deduce – did you think security would be lax here? – including a novel mechanism Brian invented previously (part of the infamous SMS Telephone Box, one of the most difficult puzzle boxes ever invented). I wrote about that one last year, after months had gone by without a single person in the world having solved it. The lock from that box which is recreated here is almost identical, pardoning polarity, but easier to navigate, thanks to the ability to see a bit of what is going on at that point. How kind of Brian, he must have felt guilty about the SMS torture box – err, telephone box. The Louvre is truly enjoyable. Like a leisurely stroll through the famous museum, it is enlightening, rewarding and satisfying.
|Mercifully, this puzzle makes you feel like saying merci|
Continuing with the French theme, I politely present the unofficial cocktail of intoxicated Parisian puzzlists. This ideal pairing packs a historic punch – it’s named after a deadly World War I machine gun, after all. And it contains gin, naturally, the favored ingredient of many of my inebriated puzzle pals. While there’s evidence of the drink’s existence in the mid 1800’s (Dickens mentions it tangentially in personal papers from an 1867 trip to Boston), it didn’t become the famous “French 75” until dubbed so at the New York Bar in Paris, popularized during the American Prohibition era. Made with gin, lemon, sugar and champagne, the deliciously deceptive drink is particularly potent. In the words of the British novelist Alec Waugh (brother to the more famous Evelyn Waugh), it’s “the most powerful drink in the world.”
|Pineapple in Paris (perhaps a French 37?)|
Not content with this most classic of cocktails, I purposefully pondered a slight modification - I just couldn’t leave it as is. Puzzle people are among the most warm, welcoming and hospitable on the planet, and what better symbol of those virtues than the pineapple? No? Trust me, look it up. So for the official unofficial cocktail of imbibing Parisian puzzlers I substituted pineapple cider for the champagne. The delightful result is an incredibly pleasing, playful variation on the classic. I certainly encourage all interested potion purists to order the Soixante Quinze while in Paris and toast the day. However, if luck might have it, and you find yourself in possession of pineapple cider (in pineapple possession, that is to say), give this one a try. Cheers, mes amis.
|You'll fall in Louvre with this pair|
Pineapple in Paris
1 oz gin
1 oz simple syrup
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz pineapple cider (use champagne for the classic French 75)
Shake all ingredients but the bubbles over ice and strain into a flute. Add bubbles on top and garnish with a twist. Or the Mona Lisa made out of citrus peels. à votre santé!
In parting, perhaps you noticed an interesting pattern pervasive on these ingeniously penned pages. How often does it appear?
For more about Brain Young, aka Mr. Puzzle: