Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Lion Sleeps Tonight


I’ll never get tired of the whimsical, adorable creations of Japanese artist Osamu Kasho.  As he admits in his brief bio on the Karakuri Creation Group site, he embraces and cherishes playfulness in his work.  He also enjoys making and playing musical instruments such as the kalimbo, and he plays in a band. 

Sleep Lion by Osamu Kasho

His playfulness is on full display in his “Sleep Lion”, one of his best achievements yet.  The box is fashioned as a lion’s head, replete with magnificent mane and a large snout.  Like all of his animal creations, this lion looks like he came from a children’s book rather than the African veldt.  Kasho must have tired him out, too, because the lion appears to be sleeping, with very droopy eyelids.  The box is dynamic, and as you might have guessed, as you solve it, the lion might just wake up!  Watch out!  But don’t worry, he’s very friendly.  He’s tricky too, with a double dose of mischief.  Once you solve the initial opening sequence, there is a second sequence to find which allows you entry to the deeper chamber.  The box is beautifully crafted, lovely to hold, and looks adorable.  With two distinct aha moments hidden inside, this is one lion you’re going to want to tame.

It's n out-and-out delight

Since our objective here is to wake this lion, perhaps there is a cocktail which might help us along the way.  Twisting the lion’s tail might do the trick (if this lion had a tail …), and in fact there is a classic cocktail which is meant to do just that.  In the early twentieth century, the expression “twisting the lion’s tail” referred to a general American desire to provoke the British, whose royal coat of arms bears a lion on the crest.  World War II saw the ultimate joining of forces and solidified the friendship between the two nations for good.  But in-between the World Wars, the feeling remained, as evidenced by a Prohibition era cocktail called the “Lion’s Tail” published in the Café Royal Cocktail Book.  This rare tome was compiled by William J. Tarling in 1937 London, and the drink is ascribed to either him or an unnamed American expat.

Lion's Tail c. 1937

What’s unusual about this drink is that although it is bourbon based, it is otherwise distinctly from the tiki canon, thanks to the signature ingredient, Allspice Dram.  Also called pimento dram or allspice liqueur, this cinnamon, clove and nutmeg flavored spirit was a mainstay in the tiki bars of the fifties but disappeared off American shelves in the eighties when it was no longer being imported.  Like many lost and obscure ingredients, it has been revived and is easy to find.  Making it fun to poke, prod and otherwise provoke the sleeping lion, once again.  Cheers!

Bring out the lion tamer in you

Sleeping Lion (adapted from the original c. 1937)

2 oz bourbon
½ allspice dram
½ oz lime
½ oz cranberry liqueur
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a favorite glass.  It’s best garnished with a citrus wheel – I ain’t lion.

It's a jungle out there

For more about Osamu Kasho:
Wolves at the Door
Blast Off -Part I
Time for Tequila

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