Aloha fine readers of the BG Reynolds blog! I do hope you're enjoying a cocktail or two, as this post might take some time. I was asked recently about how a cocktail syrup, or any product for that matter, goes from idea to an on-the-shelf product.
How it begins:
As a bartender myself, and student of the many mysteries of tiki drinks of times past, the most driving reason for developing a product, at least for me, is the need for it to exist! When I first starter BG Reynolds, there were some versions of what I make available, but nothing of a quality I could serve my customers! So, the solution was to house made everything, and I mean everything! But keeping 12 different syrups in stock, and a few seasonal variations could be one hell of a challenge. Eventually, the thought came to me that these were breaking my back hours before a shift, and the variances and occasional 86ing of a drink because of a burnt batch was not a good way to continue. So, I pondered, if I could just focus on making the syrups, and making a whole LOT of them at a time for myself AND other bartenders, wouldn't that be a delight and a new journey into business!
So, I put out my current flavor set not based on market research, focus studies, or whatever the whatnot, I drive it from my own personal need and desire to see awesome things on the market shelf, available for all. Let's take a look at something I'm working on now: Fassionola! Why do I want to make Fassionola? Because I want it to exist! There are many classic cocktail recipes calling for Fassionola, and sometimes Passionola (a different but similar syrup). But how do I go about recreating this lost classic ingredient?
Like I did back ever so long ago, the first thing I do when trying to recreate a classic ingredient is research the living hell out of it. Of course, there are going to be many variations on it, but a quick google search is always a first good step to seeing what's out there, what information is available and what has already been discovered to save any extraneous effort.
Some of my favorites sites for research purposes:
- TikiCentral: A nearly two decade old bulletin board of home tiki enthusiasts and researchers, it's where I and a few other folks in the scene got their start.
- CocktailDB: For classic ingredients, they have many, many pictures and much information on them.
- Google Books: Killer research platform, though the information is often sparse, and you have to reach out to the library holding the book, you can really get a treasure trove of information pre-dating the internet!
- Your Local Library: Yes, the plain ol' library! Librarians aren't just there to shush you, they are also able to act as researchers to help you with just about any topic, and offer electronic access to newspaper archives, journals, and ever so much more.
In this particular instance with Tropical Fassionola, I've used all four of these in my search for more information on Fassionola. What am I looking for? If I had my druthers, a recipe, or a contact from the original manufacturer who I could talk to. I also need to be careful to check for any trademark claims, since that can lead to legal issues, which is rarely the fun part of a business. What I really like to find though are little bits and pieces of flavor, cocktail recipes, people describing the ingredients from taste or memory, these are always fun and can really lead you in different directions! You have to remember that even if it's in writing from the 1800s, people were just as bad with memory and making stuff up, so everything has to be combined together with some pattern recognition and a few big grains of salt.
In the next part of this series, and once I've gotten more good info on Fassionola, I'll offer what I've found, and the next step, and often my favorite... Development!