Friday, September 11, 2009

September 10, 2009 Tester Feedback

A test plate with shots & garnish getting prepped for the road

Tester feedback regarding the September 10, 2009 Tasting Menu is in! Five shot varieties were distributed to testers, including four new recipes (Chocolate Martini, White Chocolate Martini, Grasshopper, and Sambuca) and one refurbished recipe (Dreamsicle II).

A lesson learned is that a forty minute drive time outside of a cooler adversely affects the texture and surprisingly, the taste, of several of these
delicate creme dessert style shots. Future test plates will ride in ice cooled comfort to their final destinations to ensure best product for testing. As a side note, several of the more fruity / sturdy varieties traveled in a cooler on a three hour road trip plus over-nighted in a hotel refrigerator prior to tasting with no ill effects, so they are not all hot-house flowers.

Sentiment on the two dessert martini varieties was quite positive. "Would choose over dessert. Not sure you could impove them!", said one tester. "Very true to the cocktail version", said another. From yet another tester, "[T]hese shots are not as pretty as some of the others but I like the taste very much." However, two testers felt the shots could be improved by lessening their booziness and adding more actual chocolate and white chocolate flavor.

The Grasshopper Jelly Shot, after much toil, worry and reformulation (the pastel rubber debacle of earlier this week), was a home run across the board. Even the two dissenting martini shot testers enjoyed the Grasshopper, texture at room temperature aside. Hurrah!

Not surprisingly, the black licorice-flavored Sambuca Jelly Shot (a crystal clear shot peppered with slivers of black Twizzler) was love-it-or-leave-it for testers. Additionally, the texture of the shot was less than firm due to its high alcohol content (no mixers were used), and as a result the shot was very difficult to consume. Still many testers enjoyed this shot. "Yummy . . . more gelatin [needed], fell apart, stuck to bottom. LOVE THE LICORICE!", exclaimed one tester. "I am not a big licorice fan but I do like how this tastes. I frankly like it better than a shot of Sambuca," said another. Other testers were less than amused. "What's the black stuff? Looks like eyeballs!"

Regarding Dreamsicle Jelly Shot II, all the testers agreed that the orange taste was brightened in this go round. Unfortunately, the reformulation led to overall aesthetic difficulties, as well as a negative impact on mouth feel of the cream layer (i.e. making it rather cement like). Back to the drawing board we go!!

Thanks to all the testers for their feedback. In response, for certain of the dessert shots, we hypothesize that the alcohol could be reduced by half, and replaced with milk, if desired. Also, in addition to upping the gelatin level in the Sambuca, we are exploring alternative varieties of internal garnish to avoid the dreaded optical effect in the next version of this jelly shot.

Our next tasting is scheduled for Saturday, September 12, 2009. We expect to have five varieties prepped for testers, including: Margarita; Key Lime Martini, Key Lime Pie Martini; Washington Apple; and Tequila Sunrise III.

Cheers! JSTK