Bar Talk with Shaun Daugherty

Welcome to Bar Talk with Shaun Daugherty
Welcome to Bar Talk with Shaun Daugherty

Hi Shaun,
I am a chef by trade and am planning on a dinner concept for a specialty dinner, it’s a bit unique but really need some help here.

The dinner theme is called “flavor tripping” this is a legit concept, I am not some wacko making things up. Nevertheless, the idea is to consume a berry called a mracle berry before the meal. By consuming this berry “all natural” it turns your taste buds upside down. It makes sweet items salty and sour items sweet etc.

With that being said, I am looking for a few cocktail ideas to serve throughout the meal that will tickle the senses and cause a surprise to the palate.

Any suggestions?

Chef Jeff


Thanks for the question.  I have to admit, I was unaware of this “Miracle Berry” until you had mentioned it.  I have heard of changing the flavor of food, but was unaware that this one berry was the main reason for this.  Before I answer your question, let me give a little history about it, which is just as intriguing as your question.

This berry grows in West Africa and has been used since at least the mid-1700s to alter the taste of sour and bitter foods by the natives there, most primarily the sour palms that are known as a delicacy in that region.  However, they are so sour, one has to wonder how it can even be eaten.  Its scientific name is Synsepalum dulcificum.  This berry magically makes even the unbearingly sour and bitter foods taste sweet if it is eaten before the meal.  The reason is what is found in the berry itself, a protein called miraculin.  The miraculin binds itself to your taste buds, tricking them to make anything seem sweet.  When you put a berry in your mouth you are supposed to suck out the pulp and swirl it around in your mouth for about a full minute.  Then, you will have about an hour for the effects from the berry, until it gets washed away from your mouth’s saliva.

This berry was brought to the United States in the 1970s in an attempt to market it as an alternative to sugar.  However, the FDA didn’t allow it, finding that there was no market value for it.  Many believe that this was due to the sugar industry’s stronghold and it was more of a political move than anything else.  Ever since, it has enjoyed a cult following and is now getting more publicity.  Many scientists believe that this is a great alternative to sugar for those who cannot enjoy its sweetness, such as diabetics.

So to answer your question – Yes, it is possible for you to change the flavor of cocktails.  I suggest you make things with bitter liqueurs, such as Campari, or maybe try some anise style liqueurs.  In one of the articles I read, it mentioned how they put a lemon concentrate into a pint of Guinness, at one of the food tripping events, and it tasted just like a chocolate shake.   How about using hot sauce and horseradish?  In my research, it never mentions anything about making sweet items salty.  I am now going to venture out and get me some of these berries to try some stuff out.  Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

Do you have a question for Bar Talk?  Shaun Daugherty’s Q & A appears on site each Tuesday.  If you have a query please comment below or send us email:  We would love to hear from you.

Moderated and authored by Shaun “The Bartender” Daugherty

Edited by Karie Engels

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