Saturday, June 6, 2020


It’s summer! Which means I’m going to do things a little differently here for a while. Summer is a time to relax and refresh. I’ll be keeping things short and sweet for a bit, and I’ve got an interesting series planned in a few weeks as well which is a little different.

Hip-Flask by Felix Ure

Here’s a beautiful little object which falls into the category of “perfect boxes and booze” puzzle, since the puzzle itself reflects the theme of the blog. It’s a flask, and while some may simply put water in theirs, that’s probably not the most common “solution” for the problem of what goes into a flask. The puzzle is, lamentably, not a “box”, but that may be its only flaw. The object of this flask is “simply” to remove the cap completely. You might imagine that it actually could have been a “box”, with plenty of space inside, but the space is occupied by a number of clever mechanisms.

A sophisticated sipper

Felix Ure, the creator of the Hip-Flask, is a luxury hardware designer from London.  He has a mechanical engineering mind and he is an expert metal machinist, a wonderful combination for producing world class puzzles. His design sensibilities, which embrace elegant form and function, are on full display with the flask puzzle, which is crafted from a solid block of brass and left unpolished, giving it a handsome appearance that avoids smudging from handling. The puzzle is heavy and while not completely solid, feels significant in the hand. Felix created the flask with the idea of sequential discovery in mind, knowing he wanted to make something with removable pieces that must be used in order to solve the puzzle. As the design took shape in his mind, the form of the flask became an obvious choice based on efficiencies of using a brass block. Felix “weighs” the options of form, function, weight, choice of metal and price point carefully as he designs, balancing the final product with these elements. For example, the flask could have been much more complicated, but costs would have spiraled out of control. In the end, the flask achieves an excellent balance, combining a potentially familiar mechanism with novel sequential discovery elements in an elegant and satisfying way. It’s the ultimate executive desk toy for a box and booze lover.

Sharpie Mustache by Chris Elford

When asked, Felix suggests that gin might be just the thing for this flask. Here’s a modern classic gin cocktail that couldn’t be more perfect to accompany the Ure Hip-Flask. Born at New York’s famed bitter emporium Amor y Amargo, the “Sharpie Mustache” is famous for both how tasty it is and for how stylishly it is served, in a flask.  Bottled cocktails have been around since the golden age of pre-prohibition cocktails, and can be found in the pages of Jerry Thomas’ “How to Mix Drinks” from 1927. Chris Elford channeled this history when he came up with his modern masterpiece at the bar circa 2011. The idea to serve it in a flask was a stroke of marketing genius that confers an element of naughty fun to the experience.

Too many of these and you might end up with one

Of course, the drink can be poured out of the flask, and onto a nice ice cube in a rocks glass, but where’s the fun in that? If you’re going to drink it straight from the flask, though, don’t forget to add some cold water for dilution, which is typically achieved when a drink is stirred with ice before serving. It’s an important step for most drinks. The drink is a Negroni variation, based with gin like a true Negroni, so you know it’s already going to be good. It uses Meletti amaro, famous for its saffron notes, in place of Campari, and adds a second base of rye whiskey (making it a particularly potent drink). Finally, there is Bonal, a quinine heavy bitter aperitif wine. Tying it all together are “tiki” bitters, with subtle flavors of cinnamon and spice. It’s a wonderful drink and dangerously drinkable. In fact, Elford relates how he came up with the name, imagining that having one too many of these drinks while out with friends might end with you waking up sporting some permanent marker on your face. Remind me not to hang out with him! Cheers.

Flask appeal

Sharpie Mustache by Chris Elford

20 ml London dry gin
20 ml rye whiskey 
20 ml water
1 dash of Bittermen’s tiki bitters

Add ingredients to 100ml flask or bottle. Chill and serve with a twist.

For more about Felix Ure:

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