Saturday, April 14, 2018

Enigmatic

Just when you thought things were locked down tight for the next few weeks I’m throwing a wrench in the gears.  I’m unlocking the locks and libations series this week for something geared to pique your curiosity and get the wheels turning, perhaps with a little steam powered puzzling technology.

Mecanigma by Neokid

This modern marvel of mystery comes from the South of France and is the creation of Christophe Laronde, a reclusive genius who goes by the moniker “Neokid”.  With a background in masonry and building, Neo has been making his puzzle box creations for the past five years or so.  His friend and business partner Julien Vigouroux, with whom he shares a love of riddles, inventions and magic, recognized his talent and helped him set up and start their joint venture, NK-Puzzle.  They built their workshop in an old distillery in Lodeve (“La Distillerie”), which has become a home for developing artists.  There, Neokid invents, designs and manufactures his creations using eco-friendly techniques and materials, with modern CNC machines, laser cutting, and 3D printing. 

Truly a mechanical enigma!

The “Mecanigma” box is a surreal fantasy inspired by “steampunk” which features an explosion of mechanisms, gears, levers and knobs crafted from veneered wood, plastic, steel and brass.  The box requires a sequence of 10-15 clever moves (depending on how you count one of the steps) in order to open, and has a large storage space inside where you will find a shiny plaque inscribed with the maker’s mark.  Each unique side interacts with others and the mechanisms are often locked on multiple sides.  There is even a combination lock which must be deduced in order to proceed, with self-contained clues provided by the box itself.  The design is brilliant and delightful, tactile, whimsical, and fun.  The level of detail on the box is truly impressive, begging to be explored, and provides rewarding movement with palpable and audible feedback as it comes to life.  It’s reminiscent of something one might find on MYST island and requires similar manipulations to solve.   The Mecanigma is a stunning vision brought to life by an enigmatic artist full of incredible ideas.

French Storm by Lee Hyde

To toast this mechanical marvel I’m turning my gears toward France, of course, for a drink based on the original bohemian enigma of the Belle Epoche – absinthe!  Absinthe has a long and storied history (which I have recounted in great detail) going back to ancient Egypt and Greece, but is best known as the hallucinogenic hangover-maker of the turn-of-the-century Parisian arts scene.  Thujone, the chemical ingredient in Wormwood (the bitter plant which flavors absinthe) was mistakenly thought to be mind-altering, a fact that got absinthe banned for a hundred years.  

An enigmatic maelstrom of flavors

This cocktail comes by way of London, where mixologist Lee Hyde is well known for mixing up elixirs with emotion at Bar Americain.  He created his complex concoction, the “French Storm”, for Enigma Absinthe while at Met Bar.  It fuses an incredible combination of flavors from the absinthe (originally Enigma Blanche, with notes of candied and tropical fruit, lychee, fennel, anise, lime, toffee and caramel) with Aperol, aged rum, cocao and almond.  The result is indeed a storm of flavor and feeling in the glass which recall the old and the new.  I can imagine Lovecraft regaling Toulouse-Lautrec with his tales of the absurd while they sip on these perfect potions.  Vive la France, levons notre verre, and Cheers!

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma ...

French Storm by Lee Hyde

30ml Enigma Blanche de Fougerolles (I used Vieux Pontarlier)
15ml Aperol
10ml Ron Diplomático
15ml crème de cacao
10ml orgeat
15ml lime juice
egg white

Shake ingredients vigorously without ice to foam then add ice and shake briefly to chill.  Double strain into a vintage cut glass coup, a steampunk chalice or any favorite receptacle.  No garnish required for this one but I couldn’t resist adding a lime wheel gear.

For more about NK-Puzzle:

For more about absinthe:
La Belle E-"box"

Special thanks to Julien Vigouroux for providing information and these incredible photos of the Mecanigma in various stages of construction:













2 comments:

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