Saturday, March 10, 2018


The centuries old Japanese tradition of secret box making evolved from a need for a safe place to store important documents and treasures while traveling or at home.  The original designs utilized two basic but unexpected movements of box panels which would then allow access to the inner compartment.  The design remained largely unchanged for decades.  Master craftsmen such as Yoshio Okiyama pushed the boundaries of the art to include additional panel movements and ever higher sequences of movements which locked the boxes. In the modern era, Yoshiyuki Ninomiya and Akio Kamei truly jumpstarted a new design spark to this traditional artform, introducing novel mechanisms, shapes and concepts and truly thinking outside of the secret “box”. Kamei continues to infuse new life in his own work as well as his Karakuri Creation Group by inviting new artists to explore their ideas.

Kickake by Yasuaki Kikuchi

Appropriately, Yasuaki Kikuchi introduced us to his new ideas for the group with a kickstart of his own.  His “Kickake” box refers to the Japanese concept of something which triggers something else into motion.  It’s a perfect idea to kick off his own unique ideas and creations.  His box is wonderfully distinctive, with an inner cube wrapped up by a contrasting outer cube which has cutouts and windows all around.  If you can determine how to kickstart this box into motion, a sequence of eight moves will transform the box before your eyes into something different.  It’s a clever effect and perfectly executed, and holds a surprising finale as well.  Kikuchi is a welcome addition to group.

An auspicious kickoff

Let’s kick things off on the spirits side with something else that’s getting a jumpstart.  Irish whiskey, which has been around for centuries, has nonetheless been less than apparent in most modern (or classic) cocktails.  With help from innovative bars like The Dead Rabbit in New York there has been a surge of renewed interest and old classics like this one are finding new life and new appreciation.  The “Cameron’s Kick” dates back to the 1920’s where it began appearing in Harry Craddock’s cocktail books (ABCs of Mixing Cocktails, 1922; Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930).  

Cameron's Kick c 1930

The history of the drink and it’s namesake remain a mystery, but its not terribly hard to imagine.  Our erstwhile barfly Cameron, likely of Scottish decent based on the name, either ordered or was served this tipple by his creative barman back in the day.  The kicker was the unusual mix of half Scotch whiskey and half Irish whiskey. Maybe Cameron had a fondness for a green eyed lass, or maybe the barman snuck in the Irish whiskey as a trick, but one way or another, someone got a kick out of it.  By most accounts, this mix of flavors shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s damn tasty.  It might just kickstart your own appreciation for Irish whiskey, too.  Cheers!

You'll get a kick out of this pair

Cameron’s Kick c 1930 (Savoy Cocktail Book version)

1 ½ oz Scotch whiskey blend
1 ½ oz Irish whiskey
¾ oz lemon
½ oz orgeat

Shake together with ice and strain into a favorite glass.  Garnish with something to kick it up a notch.

For more about Yasuaki Kikuchi:

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