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"Monin Rocks!" - Really?

MONIN Rocks @ HARD ROCK CAFE Dubai — with Rhiandro Gardiner andLouie Aquias at Hard Rock Cafe.

I have seen this on my Facebook timeline. And well... I wanted to write about Monin since quite a long time, but haven't. However this message was a catalyst, to speak up.

It is already a couple of months ago, that I routinely checked the ingredient list of a Monin bottle.
...and was shocked....

Point is, that I have always defended Monin against my US colleagues as decent brand. At least with the products they offered here in the Middle East and in Europe; they came from their factory in France. Most of the ingredients [except lets say in Blue Curacao syrup] were natural. Long time ago, somebody from Monin explained, that this is due to the quite strict regulations in France for syrup - there it is a family culture to drink syrup sweetened water/seltzer. And off course especially for the kids, even the government doesn't want to promote artificial stuff.

 I always liked to reduce anyway the use of syrups and stuck to syrups which really made sense... however I also enjoyed not add one more task in doing a housecrafted syrup - given that Monin was there.
Not all products were equally good - gomme was stellar! Strawberry, pomegranate, lime cordial, caribbean syrup, cherry and passion fruit were really good. Elderflower, mint, peach were ok. Cucumber, raspberry and some more flavors were quite poor [to be diplomatic].

Well dark clouds darkened my blue sky...

I guess since this year, Monin is sending syrups from a factory from Malaysia to the UAE - hence the products are not coming anymore from France.
Why does it matter? As in the United States, also Malaysia doesn't have very strict laws, when it comes to syrups and allowed fruits.

Means, that you are now reading on each Monin bottle: nature identical flavors.
What is the difference between natural flavors and nature identical flavors?

Well - by food laws, natural flavors have to derive from natural products [strawberry flavor e.g. doesn't need necessary be made from strawberries and can be made from wood shavings - hey at least it is natural] - nature identical flavors usually coming out of a chemical factory and haven't seen anytime nature in their existence. These are flavors, which are produced synthetically. Yes- the molecules might be the same as the molecules, which you can find in nature, and are responsible for one specific nuance of a specific fruit/vegetable/herb [...] - but it is synthetically produced.
Artificial flavors are also synthetical... but might taste like something you know, but the molecule responsible for the taste, will be different, as in the natural stuff. However the production of a nature identical flavor will be the same as the production of a artificial flavor [hence even if it is called natural identical flavors they are artificial]. Don't be

Why is Monin doing it? This is pretty easy to explain: PROFIT! Nature identical flavors are cheap. If you buy one kilo, you can flavor maybe a palette of syrups - fruits are much more expensive, perishable, inconsistent.
It is personal - but I have a huge aversion against artificial ingredients in my food/drinks! I believe that these ingredients make your sick over short or long. Nothing against to eat or drink something once in a while to try it. However eating/drinking it all clock around is definitely not healthy. There is little facts to support my theory, but people can talk so long about the harmlessness of HFCS, MSG, artificial colors, artificial flavors and natural identical flavors... however it might turn out completely different, if these things are tested in a couple of years.

Back to Monin. I feel kind of offended [and sorry guys, who represent Monin here, and grew as friends - it is nothing against you - but, hell, truth has to be told]! I defended a brand, which just waited to expend into another market, to throw all their virtues away!

And no: Monin is not the only syrup producer who uses artificial things! Every big syrup company is doing that! The difference is, that Monin was THE big company, who didn't do it!

For the moment I looking for different options: Giffard seems to use only natural ingredients. And for high volume syrups, which are not used in artisan cocktails, this could be an option.

D'arbo - a rather small producer from Austria who produces jam, honey, fruit conserve also has syrups. Not really the classic bar products, but they have elderflower [which is amazing - if they didn't changed their recipe in the last couple of years], forest berries etc. Unfortunately they don't yet supply the syrups to the UAE - but as they have a distributor here, I am just waiting for their samples/confirmation.

And: a lot of home made stuff.

One more time - my apologies to the guys, which might find this post as a big affront. It is not personal!
But yeah - I said it before, I do have the integrity to name the things, which are wrong in the business.

And here: Monin definitely not rocks!


  1. Not having a Monin bottle on hand, does this only apply to the European distribution?

    Darbo [no apostrophe, by the way) is great. The elderflower syrup tastes better than St. Germain at a fraction of the cost [add Vodka if you need a liqueur] Try their pomegranate syrup instead of grenadine.

    And price/value [at least in Austria] is outstanding - on a good day you can get a 500ml bottle of Darbo for 2.5 Euro

    Marie Brizard and Giffard are still producing in France, as far as I know (again, at least for the European distribution)

  2. Sorry for the double post - and an error: it should say
    "ALSO apply to the European distribution?"

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      yes, my next post will be about Darbo [well - sometimes it writes with apostrophe sometimes not]; it is definitely the best product hands down I have tried so far - even better than Saint Germain!

      I guess, in Europe Monin is still shipping from France. I would though definitely have a look on the bottle [ingredient list]. I guess due to the EU, the French law won't last for long [and maybe it is already compromised]. Unfortunately I didn't got any further information, when I contacted the distributor [even before I've posted this piece, duh].

      I will also get their other products for my review [only have elderflower in my hands].
      For the cost here in the ME I really don't know. Off course I hope, that it will be the same price. But obviously in Europe you have much less shipping and logistic costs, which can be turned down to the price.
      Also: other than Monin, Darbo is mainly producing their syrups for off trade [means for end customers] - though Monin for the on trade [bars, restaurants, cafes etc].

    2. Not wanting to be a smart ass but to shed some light on the name: The family name of the founders used to be written with an apostroph until middle of the 19th century and they still use it in the logo, but Darbo should be written without an apostrophe

      recipe wise try (the Darbo Version of) the Vieux Mot
      1.50 oz. Plymouth Gin
      0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
      0.50 oz. Darbo Elderflower
      0.25 oz. Simple Syrup (or .5 oz to taste

    3. Thanks so much for the name clarification.
      It would be nicer though, if you would give yourself a name... Just saying...

    4. Where could we buy monin in dubai(uae)?

    5. zukkur- really? We are talking here about quality concerns and you are asking for the distribution of Monin?
      Well- you can contact Fresh Express LLC - they have the distribution rights here in the UAE. If you are looking for private use, you could get a decent selection in some upscale supermarkets and deli's: Gallerie Lafayette, Milk & Honey and so on.

    6. I got Monin syrups just today from Market and Platters in Dubai Marina which is run by Fresh Express LLC. Not really concerned about quality because you can't find these syrups anywhere here in Dubai. And if you want to order online, you'll have to pay more than three times the price of the syrup to ship here - not really worth it. I paid 42.5 for a bottle. You can pay the same in the US plus approximately 120 dirhams shipping costs.

    7. Ok - first: I really don't like anonymous comments on my page.
      Second: I hope, that you don't need the syrups for your venue. Because on-trade you could have the syrups for much less - directly from the guys of Fresh Express.
      Third: your argumentation is pretty much... nonsense. How can you justify the quality only, because it is not available off-trade???
      I really don't understand this!
      Quality doesn't has anything to do with availability. Maybe in your little world. Which might be quite confused... just saying...
      I really love the guys at FreshExpress... but I am rather fighting for the availability of Darbo syrups and make myself most syrups [all I can do], then supporting natural identical aromas! This is a fact [and the ingredients "natural identical ingredients", which means that it is an artificial aroma, only with the same molecular properties which can be found in nature is also an objective indication for the quality].
      I try to be thoughtful on my blog - hence try also to be thoughtful with your comments!

  3. Thanks for the thorough article Dominik,

    I quit using Monin about a year ago because their Orgeat simply tasted fake. I've been using Giffard since which I'm quite happy with but I wanted to check if you've found some alternatives.

    I've been trying to get a hold of Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup and Orgeat but they won't ship to Europe. What's your favourite go-to premium quality syrup brand?


    1. Hi Cyberfit...

      Thanks for reading. More and more I am rather making my own syrups, than using commercial products. At this moment, there is only one brand I am totally trusting - this is Darbo - but unfortunately their portfolio is very small and doesn't have Orgeat.
      Depending, through how many length you wanna go, you could either way organic almond milk and can add sugar (I believe that 1.5 kg sugar on 1 kg of almonds is perfect - but you can also try other ratios. Just make sure, that the almond milk is unsweetened - otherwise you should use less sugar) - you can blend everything in a normal bar blender until the sugar is dissolved (no heating needed)...
      Or you are toasting almonds, crushing them, soak them in water, strain - add more water, strain... and use this liquid to add the sugar. In both you just add 10 (or so) ml of orange blossom water - and you definitely have the best almond syrup ever!
      Instead of adding vodka, I am just defrost a small amount and add the rest to a freezer (in ziplock bags or small plastic bottles) - it keeps for a long time.

      Gomme / gum syrup is more difficult. I think it is "save" to use Monin - because it is sugar syrup - just with added gum arabica. So no artificial or nature identical (or any) aromas are used.
      By the way - to my knowledge Monin is still producing in France after their "original" recipes, which are not using artificial stuff... obviously they are using still aroma essences and don't produce their own aromas (but this is an assumption).

      Hope that helps.

      Dominik MJ

    2. Thanks for your prompt reply Dominik. I'll check out Darbo and see if maybe Monin Gomme is ok to use then.

      Might even try out a proper Orgeat at home although the storage is a bit of an issue for me.

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  5. I have just recently been using Monin in my coffee and just love the flavours of their products. I noticed they list "natural flavourings" or "flavourings" in the UK brands. As a health sleuth, I understand that companies can use those two terms to describe monosodium glutamate (MSG). As companies become aware of the public outlash against excitotoxins like MSG, they're now having to use other names to describe MSG. Does anyone know if MONIN does in fact use MSG in their syrups? I've written both their French and American branches and will hopefully hear a reply from them. The truth must go out! Thanks "Opinionated Alchemist" for taking the time to write this great piece.

    1. I don't think, that Monin adds MSG to their syrup. MSG is basically adding umami / meatiness to the taste of food. In a syrup it seems quite unnecessary (probably counterproductive). I am also not much of a person who thinks, that MSG is oh-so-bad (in fact, it is pretty harmless, when consumed in reasonable quantities).
      The problem is, that I think, it is often used in excess and unnecessarily - and that it ends up to pile up in our bodies (in the unhealthy of us more than in the healthy ones).

      Even the mentioned artificial aromas and flavors aren't that bad.
      However I feel, that the industry has a responsibility - and especially that a brand, which is doing "the right thing" should not change their direction because adding aromas are cheaper and would increase the profitability for a couple of percent.

      It is the notion: "the consumer won't taste nor realize it anyway" which is so annoying to me...

  6. Wow, cool post. I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real hard work to make a great article... but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though. كراميل مونين


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