Friday, February 14, 2020

Labor of Love


“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt” - Charles Schulz

Trunk by Tatsuo Miyamoto

Here we go again, feeling all warm and fuzzy on Valentine’s Day here at Boxes and Booze. Over the past few years I’ve always featured a heart shaped box to mark the occasion. I’ve noticed they have all been from Japanese artists, including the inimitable Kamei, the wonderful Miyamoto, and the brilliant Juno. Perhaps I have a fondness for Japanese artists (guilty), or perhaps Japanese artists are particularly sentimental and produce more hearts in general. There is probably something to the latter speculation, at least for Miyamoto, who has created many, many designs which get to the heart of the matter.

A trip down memory lane

Tatsuo Miyamoto, who has been creating beautiful puzzles with the Karakuri Creation Group as a founding member for the past twenty years, poured his heart into his very first karakuri box, the Secret Heart, which helped us celebrate Valentine’s Day here a few years ago. Since then he has created eight additional boxes which feature a heart as part of their design in some fashion, including his Valentine’s Day Box, another Boxes and Booze alum, and the one we are celebrating with this year, “Trunk”. Created for the Karakuri exhibition themed “Story”, Trunk evokes a wistful sentiment of foolish love. It’s a perfectly crafted old fashioned suitcase complete with reinforced corners and a carved handle. A man’s fedora hat rests on the trunk as well, telling part of the story. Pink hearts, painted across one side, tell the rest. Miyamoto relates that the traveler is returning to his hometown, where his younger sister lives. If you are not from Japan, you may not be familiar with this particular story. The trunk references a well-loved movie series known affectionately as “Tora-san”, about a kind-hearted vagabond who returns home to find his sister. He is a complete fool, and very unlucky in love. He is constantly messing things up while remaining completely oblivious as to why. Miyamoto loves the series and wanted to tell the story with his work. It’s a story of coming home, and the unconditional love of family. It’s timeless, poetic, and heartfelt.

Tom Traubert's Blues

Keeping with tradition, I’m offering something rich and decadent for this Valentine’s Day toast. There’s no vintage provenance to this cocktail, as it’s one I created myself for a recent cocktail contest. I created a whole menu of drinks for that contest, ten in total, but this one was a bit of a mystery, an eleventh only available on the “secret menu” for those in the know who wanted something truly decadent in place of dessert.

A decadent after dinner delight

It features a combination of the elegant Italian amaro Cynar which pairs remarkably well with tequila, and sweet vermouth split with sweet PX sherry to amplify the sweet notes in the amaro. Hints of nuttiness and exotic chocolate notes are present from the bitters, and a final smoky note that mellows it all out can be found from a scotch rinse. I can’t explain how delicious this one is, a truly guilty pleasure. I’m also a sucker for Tom Waits, and this is one of the most romantic songs I know, now that we’re admitting to guilty pleasures. Here’s to romance. Cheers.

A pair of romantics

Tom Traubert’s Blues

Decadent rich sweet crème brulee, dark chocolate, compote, aromas of earth and smoke
1 ½ oz Anejo
1 oz Cynar
½ oz D’Sange sweet vermouth
½ oz Pedro Ximenez
Dash Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
Dash Bitter Tears “Gypsy” Tamarind Cacao Bitters
Scotch Blend (such as Monkey Shoulder) rinsed glass

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into the scotch rinsed glass. Chocolate square garnish.

For some more Valentine's Day nostalgia see:
Puzzled by Love
A Heart Shaped Box
Heartbeat
That's Amore

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