The gummy bear test...


April 04, 2018

by Erin Riddell

Erin managed to get her hands on those Singaporean gummy bears!

Tippling ClubA while back I wrote about a bar in Singapore called Tippling Club (Cocktails, sweetie.) Tippling Club use an edible drinks menu comprised of gummy bears, specially flavored to represent the specialty drinks they offer. Well, low and behold, my lovely coworkers in Singapore not only read my blog, they tried some of the drinks and sent me a note about the results. And then these thoughtful people did one even better….

….they sent me a packet of my very own gummy bears, complete with the drinks menu from the bar!

Oh joyous day!

Now, any good Sensory person knows that it's sometimes necessary to create references by which to judge a product meant to mimic something else, in order to better determine how close the mimicry comes to the original. So naturally we were obliged… nay, practically obligated!... to taste these sweet little bears in comparison to the drinks they were designed to impersonate. So, it was necessary to recreate the drinks upon which they were modeled. Purely for research purposes, of course.

Good thing for me, I’ve got a bartending certificate.

What I didn’t have was recipes. The menu listed the main flavors of each drink, but not the actual ingredients or how to make it. Nor how sweet, sour or salty each was supposed to be. Nor if any other ingredient (like a sweetener or a mixer) was added. I took the flavors as the ingredient list – if it said “strawberry”, then I started with fresh strawberries. No additions. No deletions.

We picked five cocktails from the list (twelve seemed a bit much for a weeknight) with ingredients we could either readily obtain, simulate, or use our best guess. With some exotic, difficult to incorporate flavors (such as makeup, petrol, paper, and blood), we had to be selective in which drinks we chose to recreate. And even then it took some creativity (like straining all the ingredients for one drink through a coffee filter to give it a paper note.)

After that I mixed, shook, stirred, tasted, and adjusted until we had five drinks that appealed to different people in the group, but that all felt were pretty good representations of the drinks described.

Yes, sipping all those samples was a very, very tough job. I’m afraid it took me quite a few tries to get them all right.

Then the test. It took very little convincing (actually, none at all) to get my coworkers to saw gummy bears in half (so that multiple people could taste), comparing the taste of the bear to the taste of the libation. Sips, shots, nibbles and contemplation followed, in between cleansing our palates with a cheese and cracker plate.

And the verdict? Well, the bears didn’t taste much like my concoctions. But I didn’t have recipes, nor did we know exactly what they were supposed to taste like. Sans sending me the drinks to sample (a task fraught with perils and complications), or convincing the bar to send me recipes and instructions (highly unlikely!), this is as close as we could get to the experience. Unless someone just happens to want to send me to Singapore to taste for myself?

In the meantime, I have discovered a new drink that is currently demanding my attention (a lovely riff on a Manhattan, involving fresh strawberries muddled with cacao nibs), so that knowledge is gained. And the overall experience has gotten my creative cocktail juices flowing. So overall a great outcome.

Thank you Clare and Ruben, my compatriots in Singapore – your package of sweets lead to a very sweet exercise!

Erin Riddell is Sensory Manager at MMR Pleasantville

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