Nightmare on Monin St.

Monin with angry eyes
[ed. Written by KP correspondent, Adam, who lives closer (by about 6 hours) to Forbidden Island than me.]

As I hope is apparent by now, we here at KP always strive for the very highest quality of ingredients when it comes to cocktails (revelations about my sordid past with Captain Morgan notwithstanding). With that in mind, I present the following scary story for your consideration:

It was a dark ‘n stormy night. Actually, it probably wasn’t, since the cocktail I was mixing out of Sippin’ Safari required me to use the last of my bottle of Monin’s passionfruit syrup. I buy Monin because “passionfruit concentrate” is fairly high up on the ingredient list, and gives a good flavor. The next day I stopped by the g-store to procure another bottle to tide me over until my next rendezvous with my Hawaiian contact, who can obtain for me delicious, fresh lilikoi. It was not until I got the bottle home that I perused the label. Imagine, gentle readers, my shock and dismay to see that the ingredient list was now utterly devoid of natural, life-giving passionfruit content, loaded instead with vile humours listed only as “passionfruit flavor” and “natural and artificial flavors.”

In my shock I messaged Rick, who immediately encouraged me to write the company, expressing my displeasure and demanding free products as compensation. I then pointed out to him that given the change in recipe, free product was not a desirable outcome. Nonetheless, I dashed a hasty pique-laden missive to the Moninites. A day later, I received the following, chilling response

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for your email. We duly noted your remark and are sorry about your decision to return back your bottle.

We sincerely hope you will keep a good image of our product in spite of artificial flavours.

Kind regards,

Under better circumstances I tend to find broken English and Briticisms charming, but the soul-stupefying effect of this response could not have been greater had I awoken to find it writ in blood upon my bathroom mirror.

So henceforth I’m going to attempt making my own PF syrup. Has anyone out there tried this at home?

24 Responses to “Nightmare on Monin St.”

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24 Comments to “ Nightmare on Monin St.”
  1. 6 hours on a plane closer to Forbidden Island than Rick!

    Ugh, that is awful! I have to admit I feared something like this would happen to the US versions of the Monin products sooner or later. It really is only a short step to HFCS. I was a little shocked the last time I purchased Lemon Syrup and discovered its lack of natural ingredients. Vowed to make Sirop-de-Citron myself before the next time I needed it and pour the Monin down the sink.

    Unfortunately, I think passion fruit syrup is a bit more of a pain than lemon syrup.

    Please keep us informed of your (mis-)adventures.

  2. In Sippin’ Safari, Finest Call is recommended, despite initial hesitation. It is probably the closest, currently, to the Trader Vic’s Double Strength Formula from before the change to “flavoring” and no actual fruit.

    To make your own, just roll together a simple syrup with an addition of PF Juice, such as that in the tetrapaks put out by Ceres. Personally, I like to reduce the hell out of it first to get a good concentrated flavor, then use that as the “water” in a simple syrup. It creates a strong punchy passion fruit. You can also add a weency bit of Citric Acid to tart it up… maybe 1/8th of a teaspoon mixed with the sugar prior to boiling. The Ceres is juicy, but with no tartness.
    You can also skip the Ceres and use real passion fruit, but I can’t even tell you the expense and time put into that. Real Passion Fruit has just the mildest tartness. It’s really nice, but avoid, at all costs, the bit of juice from the rind. One drop can ruin a batch. The actual juice comes from the little membranes surrounding the seeds, with a yield of MAYBE 1/4 oz. per fruit, and at $3 per fruit that can really rip into the liquor budget. What I did to get my juice was to use a muddler and a mesh strainer. It takes quite awhile, and really strains the wrist.

    So, try to roll your own with real stuff for the experience, or with the nectar/puree for some damn good stuff. But I’d say, in a pinch, go with the Finest Call.

  3. Rick A.No Gravatar says:

    I have made my own PF Syrup just as described above using both Ceres and Goya nectar but as of late have been using Finest Call. Finest Call Passion Fruit Puree has a good flvaor but is not sweet enouogh for me. If a recipe calls for 1oz. of PF Syrup I add 1oz. Finest Call Puree and 1/2oz. 1:1 simple syrup. Both taste great but finest call and simple syrup is cheaper and easier.

  4. MartyNo Gravatar says:

    If there’s a good Asian market in your area, head over there. There’s “Passion Juice” from Yun Cheng Co., that’s passion fruit and sugar, nothing more.

  5. ScottesNo Gravatar says:

    I have made my own, basically using Blair’s procedure, and with both Ceres and Looza Passionfruit juice.

    You can read the details about my experiment here:

    To summarize:

    In the end, the mix made with the Looza was *slightly* better. Either was definitely acceptable. But a mix of the Looza without my mistakes would be a clear winner. Though if I had only Ceres available I would transfer it to a glass bottle and wait to see if it would settle and leave the passion fruit distinct from the other juices. If the Ceres settled like the Looza then I thnk it would be too close to call.

    So, here’s my recipe for making Passion Fruit Syrup:

    1 Liter Looza Passion Fruit Nectar
    1.5 cups organic cane sugar

    Let the Looza settle for a while, until the sediment is quite distinct from the clear juice. Siphon off as much of the clear juice as possible. Heat the passion fruit “sediment” portion very slightly, and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool, and add 2 oz of vodka or light rum as a preservative. Total cost is about $5 for 16 oz.

  6. JoeNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve made similar stuff before without much problem, but I suppose I’m cheating a bit due to proximity (and the fact that I can get free lilikoi from various trails doesn’t hurt).

    If you use real Lilikoi (aka Passion Fruit) I’d highly recommend the following considerations: As they ripen, the skin of the fruit becomes more shriveled and brown. They start out as (in my case) yellow balls that appear very similar to lacrosse/handball balls (some varieties can also be purple). If you’re just eating one straight, go for the most shriveled, but if you’re making a syrup you probably don’t care about natural sweetness and want an underripe, sourer one with more potent flavor.

    Cut the lilikoi in half over a small pan, and using a spoon remove the seeds (with the flesh wrapped around them) into the pan. Maybe add a few tablespoons of water, and heat the whole thing over med-low heat, mushing it around to get the juice out of the flesh. After you’re bored with this process, strain everything over another bowl. The juice should separate out now, maybe with a bit of pressing. If you get more than 1-2 teaspoons of juice per lilikoi you’re lucky, so you will need a number of them. Mix this with the simple syrup, etc, and you’re set.

  7. MarleighNo Gravatar says:

    Lillikoi have suddenly appeared in Los Angeles this fall, so I’ve been buying them by the pound (which, by the way, is a lot of lillikoi). As much as I love the flavor of the fruit when it’s fresh, I can’t imagine trying to get enough juice out of them to make syrup at home. That’d be an all-day affair!

  8. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    The ingredient list on my bottle reads:

    pure cane sugar
    concentrated passion fruit juice
    natural flavoring
    citric acid

    I’m guessing I’ve got one of the good ones. I bought it several months ago at a local coffee shop, so maybe I’d better check and see if they’ve got any of the “pre-artificial” ones left!

  9. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    @Dr. Bamboo: Yup, you have one of the good ones. I have a feeling this change was fairly recent (last few months), so there is probably still some product around of the old recipe.

  10. ScomorokhNo Gravatar says:

    Ukrainian low demand detailed information about composition of food and drink.

    So, on my bottle of MONIN Passion fruit syrup specified (Ukrainian label):

    concentrated juice of passion fruit
    concentrated juice of fruits (unfortunately not specified the kind of fruits)
    citric acid (I think as preservative and acidik regulator) – undoubtedly artificial ingredient
    natural plant and fruits extract and flavoring
    colouring – caramel and E102 (tartrazine)

    So, artificial flavoting not specified, but artificial ingredient are present.

  11. DeanNo Gravatar says:

    I too am almost out of Monin Passion Friut syrup – when I checked bottles at the store today, I saw those unfortunate words “passion fruit flavor”. Too bad – I really liked this syrup. Adam – did you taste the new “artificially-flavored” syrup? It could taste all right, but at $13, I didn’t feel like rolling the dice.

    Strange that Trader Vic’s and Monin Passion Fruit syrups both go artifical at about the same time – I wonder if this is one of those products that’s made to spec in one factory, and then bottled under different brand names?

  12. MarkNo Gravatar says:

    Looking at my bottle, there seem to be two dates printed on the neck — one in the future (2009, presumably the “best by” date), and one in the past (2006), which I’m guessing is the bottling date.

    My bottle is real passionfruit. Just curious; what bottling date is on the artificial bottles? That might give us some idea of how much of a stock is left…

  13. ScottesNo Gravatar says:

    A tip from The Gnomon over at Tiki Central, with a couple edits from me.

    Aunty Lilikoi – http://www.auntylilikoi.com/ – can be purchased online, plus they ship to all parts of the US and internationally. $5 for a 10.5oz bottle. Here is an excerpt from their site:

    Shipping & Delivery –
    Shipping is done by United States Postal Service Priority Mail or International Priority Mail. See rates below. Rates apply to orders shipped to a single address. Please allow 5-7 days (to US addresses) or 10-14 days (to International addresses).

    Their S&H charges are reasonable. There is no reason anyone has to wait to hook up with someone from Hawaii to get Aunty Lilikoi PF products as long as they live someplace accessible by USPS Priority (or International Priority) Mail.

    Shipping 1-12 pounds is $13. Which is expensive for a single bottle, but cheap for a dozen.

  14. JackNo Gravatar says:

    I’m currently operating out of New Zealand – great international foods sections in the shops down here – and I discovered something intriguing on this front today. The aisle with the coffee and tea products at New World (supermarket chain) has large bottles of wholly artificial Monin passionfruit. The international foods section has smaller bottles of Monin passionfruit with French labels and more recent bottling dates – and they’ve still got ingredients that sound identical to those on the Ukrainian label noted above.

    Evidently, the French are trying to keep the good stuff for themselves.

  15. JoeNo Gravatar says:

    I can vouch for Aunty Lilikoi’s stuff. I’ve visited their main store when I was over on Kauai, and their products are superb. If you’re putting an order in anyway, might I recommend adding in a passion-wasabi mustard in to your order…by far my favorite product of theirs.

  16. MartinNo Gravatar says:

    I’m now finally on our last case of old formula Vic’s, after having bought every case in California. (literally)

    I contacted Monin a few months ago, and found the same terrible truth as Adam.

    BUT, I’m very pleased to report that I have the answer to all your problems. And the answer is Funkin.

    Funkin makes a range of top quality fruit purees in the UK that are available here. The passion fruit is second to none. Pure puree with a touch of real sugar. Big super tart fresh passion fruit bite. It’s better that anything else I’ve tried. The acidity level allows you to control the outcome much better than reducing Looza or Ceres. And there’s no cooking involved. Just add the puree to simple syrup and you’re off. It’s making all of our drinks better, especially the hurricane. Jess, my Hawaiian bartender, is smitten. I ran it by the Bum, and he’s liking it as well. We’re just comparing proportion notes on it today.

    So get yourself some and live the dream. As for the mixing, it depends on if you use a 1:1 simple or 2:1 simple, but I suggest that you experiment just to find a ratio of Funkin:syrup that works for your palate and desired tartness/consistency level. Just combine and shake. We’re also using it watered down to replace Looza.

    And with that, another secret of FI is revealed.


  17. ScottesNo Gravatar says:

    Hmmm… Nobodies mentioned Perfect Puree yet. I haven’t tried their products, but I have heard many good things about them.

  18. I think it is cheaper to use Artificial Flavoring in the States and most Americans don’t know the difference. The French don’t stand for it. What a pity that Monin has changed its recipe! However, if it does exist in Europe, that means it’s not totally gone. Keep writing/e-mailing them; maybe if enough people complain, they’ll bring back the old recipe?

  19. Well, the thing is, as I noticed when I bought the Lemon Syrup, the Monin we get in the US is made in Florida, not France.

  20. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    So I returned my bottle and checked the other half dozen bottles on the shelf — all crap. Fortunately, lilikoi has arrived via Joe!

  21. LurkerNo Gravatar says:

    Have any of you tried Routin? It tastes pretty much like passion fruit to me.

    Torani, on the other hand, claims natural ingredients but manages to taste fake anyway.

  22. I wish I’d known about Funkin when writing Sippin’, as the stuff is every bit as good as Martin says. Since I like my drinks on the tart side, I mix it 4 parts Funkin to 1 part sugar syrup (with a 1:1 ratio for the sugar syrup). The only place I’ve been able to get it from is mondoliqor.com, who take their time shipping, but I’ve heard that Funkin will be more widely available in the US in January…

  23. Tracy McPhersonNo Gravatar says:

    I found passion fruit syrup and nectar at Meditaranean Produce in San Diego. The nectar is New Zealand purple, not the abanana yellow we are accustomed to in Hawaii…but the flavor is natural and Good. You might also ask Hawaiian connection to ship frozen concentrate available from any KTA market. My friend brings it back to make da kine jelly..Aloha Tracy

  24. […] road again looking for Passion Fruit stuff. I found the Finest Call and Monin Passion Fruit syrups (not the good stuff, alas), and grabbed another carton of Ceres just in case. I could not find the Goya frozen pulp, nor the […]

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

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It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.

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