A 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
….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.
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
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?
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