Puzzlers and cocktail enthusiasts alike usually have a rich sense of humor. Akio Kamei, the puzzle box master of the Karakuri Creation Group in Japan, appears to share that wicked sense of humor, which he lets loose in his “Ouch!” puzzle box.

Now, how does one pair a cocktail with something named “Ouch” that looks like a foot? It may not immediately sound plausible but in fact the challenge was picking one of many good options. For example, there is a drink called the “Ankle Breaker” which combines overproof rum and cherry brandy with either lime or lemon juice and a little sweetener. The name stems from the excessive alcohol content in the drink, so perhaps its best to try that one while sitting down. Another choice and a close call was one of my favorite tropical island drinks, the “Painkiller”. This delicious combination of rum, pineapple, coconut and orange juice is best enjoyed while sitting at the Soggy Dollar Bar in Jost van Dyke where it was invented. But I decided to go with an ounce of prevention over a pound of cure, and call in the cobbler.

In this case, the “sherry cobbler”, a drink that defined an era of American history. The sherry cobbler rose to popularity in early to mid 18th century America and became a symbol of American prosperity. Sherry, a fortified wine, was an exotic European import. Sugar and citrus were being transported up from South America, and Florida was soon absorbed into the United States which made it even easier. Finally ice, that simple commodity we take for granted, was being harvested from New England lakes in the winters and sent south year round. Refrigeration wouldn’t be invented for a century, making this component of the cobbler rather luxurious. That simple combination of sherry, sugar and ice, with a citrus wedge, was the height of sophistication. Now it’s retro cool again, and this modern take by Ryan Fitzgerald and Todd Smith from ABV in San Francisco is a fantastic variation. It might not prevent you from stubbing your toe, but you might not mind. Cheers!


The Dunmore Cobbler
by Ryan Fitzgerald and Todd Smith:

2 oz. amontillado sherry

1 oz. pineapple syrup

½ oz. blended scotch whisky

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: pineapple wedge or brandied cherry

Shake ingredients together over ice and pour into a chilled glass. Dash bitters on top and garnish. Try not to stub your toes while enjoying – Ouch!


For more about this whimsical foot puzzle box and the Japanese master craftsman who created it see:

Boxes and Booze: The Game is Afoot!