Saturday, March 21, 2020

Zip It!

First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down. – George Burns

Zipp Chack by Yasuaki Kikuchi

We’re zipping along here at Boxes and Booze, getting ready for the start of Spring. It’s time to unzip the winter coats and get some warm sun on our faces (just as long as we DON'T TOUCH FACE …). The zipper is one of those brilliant inventions that made life a little easier, the kind of thing you don’t realize will make an impact until you see it. The inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe, received a patent in 1851 for something he named the “automatic, continuous clothing closure”. It was a start. In the early 1890’s Whitcomb Judson improved the device, renamed it the “clasp locker”, and debut it at the 1893 World’s Fair. He even started the Universal Fastener Company to produce it, but it didn’t sell. A worker there named Gideon Sundback took the design further, and created the modern day zipper in 1913. He received the patent for his “separable fastener” in 1917, and B.F. Goodrich used it on a pair of rubber boots they developed, finally calling it the “zipper”.

"chack" means zipper in Japanese

Fast forward one hundred years to 2017, when Japanese artist Yasuaki Kikuchi thought it would make a great design for a puzzle box. For his innovative end-of-year puzzle offering with the Karakuri Creation Group, Kikuchi came up with an eye catching design. His original idea was actually for a snowman, skiing down the slopes. At each corner, he would swing his skis around, on down to the end of the run. But when he completed the prototype, the big bold grooves running down the face of the box didn’t look like snow to him – they looked like a zipper! Using beautifully contrasting Dogwood and Magnolia woods, he transformed the wooden box into a pop art conversation piece. He added the prominent Chanchin wood zipper pull and slider to make it obvious what is going on here and complete the motif. Zip it up and down and there is a perfect tactile feel to the mechanism. Soon it becomes fairly obvious what can be done, but deducing the right sequence is not so simple. This is one zipper that might stay stuck for a while. Kikuchi’s designs are always surprising and out of the ordinary, and it’s always a treat to see what he unzips from his bag of tricks.

The Piano Has Been Drinking

I’ve paired the zipper with something you might find yourself zipping – sorry, sipping – at the end of a romantic evening in a sultry bar or in your own cozy den. The inspiration for the drink took its original cues from a Vietnamese iced coffee, but this nightcap leaves out the condensed milk. What it keeps is the rich coffee, ginger, and cinnamon. The former is by way of Café Amaro, a robust, bittersweet amaro that infuses single origin coffee with botanicals of Juniper Berries, Cardamom, Orange Peel, Star Anise, Spearmint Leaves, Gentian, and Vanilla Beans. The latter is with a pre-batched mix of ginger liqueur and Amaro Angostura. Pre-batching such mixtures that are only needed in small quantities is an industry trick known as the “biz” (as in, use a little of the ginger/amaro business).

A little of this, a little of that ...

The base for this nightcap employs a mix of reposado tequila and blanco mezcal. The spirits anchor the strong amaro flavors and lend a subtle smokiness to the evocative scene. Dry Oloroso sherry balances things out and a few dashes of chocolate bitters makes it all sensational. The cocktail is full of flavor stories and it reminds me of an old Tom Waits song which is the perfect thing to play while enjoying this drink. I made the garnish to reference the song, but it reminded me of a zipper, too. Here’s to the storytellers – cheers!

zip sip

The Piano Has Been Drinking

1 oz reposado tequila
½ oz blanco mezcal
1 oz Café Amaro
½ oz Oloroso sherry
½ oz Ango / Ginger biz*
Dash of Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Lemon twist.
*pre-batch 1:1 Amaro di Angostura and Ginger liqueur

For more from Yasuaki Kikuchi:
Connecting the Dots
Know L

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