The perfect gift for the bon-viveur in your life, Dangerous Experiments for After Dinner is a collection of highly amusing (and sometimes downright dangerous) challenges that won’t fail to impress your friends and family.
The brainchild of LKP Creative Director Angus Hyland and writer Kendra Wilson, this handsome set of cards presented in a handy waterproof tin is sure to make your soirée go with a bang. The illustrated cards feature challenges based on traditional games and tricks from sabring a bottle of champagne to hammering a needle through a coin. Some of the tricks are a little dangerous, but all of them are guaranteed to be hilarious.
The Candle Quadrille (above) is trick involving balancing on one knee, and fire. Both participants kneel on the floor opposite each other and lift their respective right knees behind them, grasping their right ankles with their right hands. A third person places a candle in each of their left hands and lights one of them.
The object is for the participants to approach each other and then for one to light the other’s candle without either of them letting their left knee touch the ground.
If that’s too easy, once both candles are lit, the third person blows one out. The kneelers must relight the candle without touching the flame to the wick. (The trick is to hold the flame to the smoke – the flame will ignite the candle vapours and light the other wick. Note that paraffin candles must be used: this does not work with candles of beeswax).
Some after dinner experiments can be approached as performance rather than group activity, such as the Table Turn Toss (above). Circumstances might dictate, however, that a host is in possession of a detested set of china, the destruction of which would be a happy outcome. In this case, anybody can have a go.
This performance, or demonstration, is essentially a variety show trick of uncertain vintage. Unless there are outside forces at work – for instance when the stationary object is pushed down a slide, or when a cat knocks it off a high shelf. Objects resting on a table are inclined to remain there, even if the surface on which they sit is moved. If this surface happens to be a tablecloth, friction would be to blame for any precipitation.
For a happy outcome, friction needs to be minimal. A silky, slippery tablecloth is to be recommended. For an oblong table, it is important that the two short sides of the cloth be unhemmed. (It would not be unreasonable to have this cloth specially made.)
The tabletop must be perfectly smooth, with no adjustable panels breaking the line, and standing level on the floor. Ask guests to stand at a respectful distance and then firmly grasp the cloth (on a short, unhemmed side) with both hands.
Whip – literally – the cloth out from under the place settings, pulling it straight down towards the floor, with great alacrity.
Remember, practice makes perfect!
Another much-attempted trick is The Sommelier and the Sabre (above). In choosing equipment, it is important to remember that it is not a weapon that is useful here, but a blunt-edged instrument. While a spatula lacks the romance of a sword, it would be more effective; a sabre only has one sharp edge and that edge is redundant. The experienced sommelier knows that a combination of exterior impact with interior pressure allows the top of the bottle to be sliced off with ease.
Start by chilling the champagne, keeping the neck the coldest. Step outdoors (the cork can fly up to 10 metres), keeping guests safely behind you. Dry the bottle, removing foil and cage, while holding the cork with your thumb. Next, find the seam that runs the length of the bottle and hold it in front of you with your less-dominant hand. The bottle should be resting at an angle of between 20 and 30 degrees. Balancing the bottle is easiest with fingers spread out underneath and thumb in the base indent.
Turn your knife over so the blunt end is facing the top of the bottle. Run the blade flat against the seam towards the neck. (The junction of seam and neck is the bottle’s weakest point.) With one deft motion, sweep the knife swiftly along the seam and carry straight on through the neck. Do not lose your nerve halfway – follow through. Let the wine flow a little bit to disgorge any shards of glass before pouring.
Dangerous Experiments for After Dinner is out now. Enter the code DANGEROUS35 at checkout before 12th August 2018 to claim your 35% discount.
Have a look at these and some of the other Dangerous Experiments in the video below:
NB: The experiments require you to exercise a reasonable degree of common sense, care and caution. Neither Laurence King Publishing nor the authors take any responsibility for any injury or damage resulting from the use or misuse of information contained here. Your safety – and your dry-cleaning bill – is up to you. For Ages 18+