Saturday, May 16, 2020

Morning Coffee


“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s a time for celebrations here at Boxes and Booze headquarters. First it was the anniversary of this blog, and now it’s the anniversary of this blogger. My wedding anniversary is the subject of this week’s offering. I’ve created the occasional box and booze pairing in honor of my partner in life, on occasion. She doesn’t care much for the boxes, but does enjoy the cocktails, when I get them just right, and has been my number one taste tester over the years. Way back in the beginning of this blog I made a Manhattan variation themed around a “duet”, and paired it with Kawashima’s Duetbox, for example. That was a direct nod to her. Last year on this date I offered another Kawashima, the Rose, as another.

Coffee Cup by Akio Kamei

This year’s offering benefits from a story to explain the pairing and why this box has meaning. Ours is a romantic tale full of foresight and fate. We met at eighteen and after a fairy tale summer dream, made the wise and prescient decision to go off to our separate colleges apart, to experience life unfettered and free. But, we loved each other. So we decided that at the right time, when we were both pursuing our expected future careers as doctors someday, we would miraculously find each other again and continue our lives together. We quickly fell out of touch and six years passed with other relationships and no word or mention – except that we both held that promise close and often wondered to ourselves. As fate would have it, we really did both end up in medical school, in different cities that were not very far apart. A mutual acquaintance visiting one city one weekend, and the other the next, dropped a casual mention of “guess who I just saw”, and it became a spark.

Just a spoonful of sugar

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” – Winston Churchill

The first time we met again, a few months after that fateful moment, I came to visit her in New York City. She took me on a walk in Central Park, buying us both an iced coffee on the way. We sat on a bench in a secluded little flower garden, when suddenly some nicely dressed people congregated a few feet away in front of us. We sat quietly and watched them get married. We both love coffee but on one particular day each year it becomes symbolic to us. Here’s a special puzzle box to commemorate our story and our day.

Morning Buzz by Jillian Vose

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham

Coffee Cup, by Karakuri Creation Group founder and master puzzle box craftsman Akio Kamei, is one of his archetypal works. The piece showcases his woodworking mastery, with its perfect curves and appearance. It also exemplifies one of his favorite puzzling sensibilities. He loves to create puzzles that solve themselves effortlessly if you only let them. How would one typically approach a coffee cup, which comes with two lumps of sugar and a lovely spoon? Do what would normally be done with the real object, and the puzzle will be solved. The coffee cup is elegant and a beautiful enactment of design sense, form and function. It’s one of the most classic Kamei creations. And who’s to say that those sugar cubes aren’t really meant to be ice cubes, anyway?

I don't actually advocate drinking cocktails first thing in the morning ...

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” – Rita Rudner

The cocktail toast for today also deserves a brief introductory story. I mentioned that my wife and I love coffee. It’s true, but she makes it a serious priority. In fact she loves it from the moment she wakes up every morning. The first thing she does every day, practically even before she gets out of bed, is attend to her morning coffee buzz. And I’m sure a lot of you can relate. So here’s a perfect cocktail to go with the perfect puzzle box.

When you want breakfast, for dessert

“There are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But who wants easier?” – Mary Oliver

This decadent delight comes from superstar mixologist Jillian Vose, beverage director at New York’s The Dead Rabbit, from her former time at Death and Company. In it she mixes up a winning combination of cognac and rum tempered with Amontillado sherry, and sweetened with a touch of honey syrup and orgeat. As if that wasn’t enough, the recipe goes full egg cream with an egg yolk and the piece de resistance, Honey Nut Cheerio infused heavy cream. Which is incredibly delicious, in case there is any doubt. I tinkered a bit with the recipe, using some homemade pecan orgeat (rather than the traditional almond orgeat) which I had handy. I  also found myself lacking any heavy cream. So I raised the stakes and swapped the egg and cream for melted Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream instead, which is practically the same thing but even better, and infused that with the Honey Nut Cheerios. The result? A morning buzz you can crave all day. Here’s to romantic stories, to love, to coffee, and to us. Cheers!

a buzzy pair

Morning Buzz by Jillian Vose

1 oz cognac
¾ oz aged rum
½ oz Amontillado sherry
¼ oz orgeat
¼ oz honey syrup
¾ oz Honey Nut Cheerio-infused cream
1 egg yolk

Dry shake ingredients (no ice) to agitate then add ice and shake to chill. Double strain into a favorite glass, or coffee mug. Cheers!

For more from Akio Kamei:
Top Shelf
Double Trouble
Get Lost!
Golden Hour

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