Saturday, March 9, 2019

We All Want to Change the World

We interrupt this broadcast of Boxes and Booze for a surprise installment of Locks and Libations.  I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Rainer Popp’s fabulous T9 puzzle lock, regarded by many as one of his very best.  Many of you are aware that Rainer is the “Raining” champ of modern day puzzle lock creations, with 11 creations to date including what is now thought of as the greatest ever created, the T11.  He has some serious competition from ShaneHales, Dan and Boaz Feldman, and now Ali Morris, but no one else has invented as many locks, at least. I wrote about the unbelievable T11 here, a modern day marvel with so many unexpected elements it is mind boggling.

T9 by Rainer Popp

The T9 is less intimidating, in appearance and mechanics, made for mere mortals apparently, although by no means simple or easy to solve. I had been curious about this lock for some time, and as fortune had it, a good friend decided to lend me this copy.  The lock is made from brass and steel, weighing in at a hefty 1000g.  It’s solid and heavy.  It’s quite distinctive, with a central circular plate set into a rectangular body which has interesting waves undulating across the front and back.  Inset into the circle are six unmarked rivets forming the points of a hexagon, three red dot rivets in a triangle further to the edges, and a tempting keyhole right in the middle. Exploring the lock reveals a few more little details here and there, with unknown significance.

You say you got a real solution? Well, you know ...

T9 has a very attractive design and is one of the prettier Popplocks.  There’s a key, thankfully, which fits the lock, as it turns out, but – spoiler alert – doesn’t open the lock when you turn it.  That sort of information seems like a required statement when discussing trick locks, just to ensure everyone that things are legitimate.  Rainer Popp says that this lock was inspired by Robinson Roulette, a peg jumping puzzle released by Milton Bradley in 1985.  The puzzle consisted of a rotating circle with holes around the clock points on the inside, and pegs on the outside, with a goal of moving all the red pegs onto the circle, following a certain rule, and having the final peg placed be the white one. Hmmmm …. Ok, if you say so Rainer.  I won’t mention anything about the solution to the lock but I will say that it is brilliant, satisfying and fun. 

Revolver by John Santer

To toast the T9 I’ve got a great version of the Old Fashioned, that perennial favorite and blueprint for the first cocktail ever, made classically with rye whiskey, sugar, and angostura bitters. It’s incredibly easy to make variations by switching up the ingredients or adding something extra.  We’ve had more than our fair share of Old Fashioneds here before and even delved into the absurd origins of the cocktail itself. This version was created by mixologist John Santer, of Bruno’s and Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco, to celebrate the release of Bulleit’s new bourbon in 2004.  He uses coffee liqueur in place of simple sugar, swaps Angostura for orange bitters, and even finishes things off with a huge flourish by flaming the oils from an orange peel over the finished drink.  Some say that’s how the drink became so popular, but I suspect it also has something to do with how tasty it is. 

All I can tell is brother you have to wait

I’ve tinkered with the recipe once again for my own version, using High West Campfire (an incredible blend of Scotch, Bourbon and Rye with a nice peat reminiscent of the campfire) but staying true to the origins with some toasted cinnamon infused Bulleit Rye.  For the coffee liqueur, it’s hard to beat NOLA from the innovative distillers at St. George Spirits, with its distinct chicory undertones and bold coffee flavor. So saddle up, pardner, grab your six shooter (for your Bulleit rye), and let’s ride this one off into the sunset.  Cheers.

Don't you know it's gonna be all right?

Revolver by John Santer c. 2004

2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
½ oz coffee liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Flame an orange peel over the glass if you’re feeling flamboyant.  Or flambé- ant…

For more about Rainer Popp see:

For more Old Fashioneds see:
What has life Tortoise?

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