Dogma, or How to Lose a Recipe Contest • r/DIY_eJuice

Dogma, or How to Lose a Recipe Contest

The Setup

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of losing the 2017 DIYorDie World’s Heavyweight Mixing Championship. If you weren’t following along, I managed to sneak through the first 3 rounds presenting some relatively interesting but fairly left-field recipes. In the final round, I narrowly lost to /u/ID10-T’s sad vagina juice. I still walked away with some cool prizes, and more importantly, some really valuable experience.

Wherein I Give Thanks

I have a bunch of people to thank… first /u/exclusivegirl/ for the nomination and the huge vote of confidence. I also have to shout out /u/chrisdvr1/ for the ongoing morale boost. I’m glad I made it to the final round before letting you down. I’d also like to thank /u/Enyawreklaw/, /u/skiddlzninja/, and /u/notcharlesmanson/ for holding the contest and wading through all that juice to actually do the judging. Mixing, tasting, and critiquing that much juice at once is damn near a nightmare and these guys put in a huge amount of work to make everything happen. I’d also like to thank /u/queuetue/ for working with them to provide a slick, clean platform through ATF for contest submissions as well as providing temporary accounts for participants.

Huge thanks to Bull City Flavors. The staff there is great, and the amount of product they distributed to the hosts alone would deserve a huge thanks, but then they up the ante by providing the bulk of the cash prize and over $300 in gift certificates for the finalists.

Same thing to everyone who participated in the competition. I’d specifically like to shout out /u/mlNikon/ for saying I stink and power moving me. And /u/ID10-T for being him, talented but also disarmingly perverse. If we want to be honest, judged on the entire body of the work from the contest, they both absolutely buried me. They consistently came up fantastic recipes in every round.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who gave enough of a damn to follow along with the contest. This is primarily a hobbyist community and the amount of work and engagement we put in to help each other improve as mixers is fucking awesome, straight up. That goes for my people in /r/MixersClub, the sidebar nazis who still put in more work answering new mixer’s questions than you or I do, and the folks talking about cock piercings on the DIYorDIE discord.

How and Why I Mix, or the Self-Indulgent Part

I’ve always considered myself a “weird” mixer, in that I’m more interested in stuff that that’s interesting as opposed to representative. It has it’s own set of problems, but I like building flavors that evoke a mood. Music actually has a huge influence on the way I mix. I’ll put on something I’m digging, and see if I can mix something that matches the overall tone in some sort of abstract sense. This style of mixing, while personally rewarding, has a pretty limited appeal to people that aren’t me and the results tend to be super inconsistent.

At the risk of biography, I’ve sort of found myself at a point in life where I’ve decided that I’d rather do things that I enjoy, as opposed to whatever the hell it is that other people expect from me. Using other peoples’ expectations as my personal measuring stick helped me into 29 years of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt that culminated in a super-stressful desk job that paid well enough to fund some pretty healthy substance abuse. Shit went off the rails, as it always does. Throw in an untimely death that basically broke me, and I was ready to accept the help and support to get clean. Fast forward to chain-smoking my way through the two years of sobriety, I started vaping seriously and gravitated towards DIY. I basically got into this hobby in the exact wrong way, buying random flavors based on what sounded good, and started experimenting from there. But I loved it, both as a craft and an art. Queue another untimely death, and a move to the middle of nowhere to follow a wonderful person that continues to put up with my nonsense.

With the free time that comes with mild isolation, I decided I wanted to take this hobby and try to turn it into something I could be proud of. In order to do that, I would have to become a dramatically “better” mixer. So I started working at it harder. I figured the logical first step is learning about the tools of the trade, namely concentrates. My personal notes had always been scarce, and I honestly had no clue how flavors worked outside of my mixes. I would fix that. Using you fine folks, I have the level of scrutiny to keep myself honest with my learning process. I taste things now, and I think about them, and I write about them. Our palates are never going to be identical, but I like to think I provide thoughtful descriptions and commentary on anything I review for publication. I’m never going to have it 100% figured out, but I feel like I have a decent grasp on what’s going on by this point.

The next step was tackling representative mixing, and here’s where I actually get back to talking about something that’s relevant. I’ve been working at representative mixing, first through the Mixers Club (Seriously, shout out to /u/thattswhatshesaid/ for being the catalyst for a platform I’ve relied on so heavily) and most recently in the DoD competition. I set out to nail the technical aspect of “making juice taste like things,” and you’ve seen my bumbling attempts thus far.

The Contest

The recipes in the competition were technical sketches of better recipes. 3 days of development, specific criteria, and a S&V requirement will tend to do that if you’re overthinking. They all had a central “point” that I was trying to hang a full recipe on. Round one was a pretty open fruit mix, and I chose to focus on a scary accurate golden delicious apple. Round two was a Capella and TFA candy recipe, and I chose to use that round to focus on texture and mouthfeel. Round three was a milkshake, and I wanted to focus on chocolate as a S&V. All of these recipes have pretty glaring flaws, but I felt like they all had something really interesting in there. The final round was more open, and I wanted to submit something that truly showed what I’ve learned as a mixer. I think I achieved that, and that’s the reason I’ve chosen to dig deeper into my danish recipe, “Dogma.”

Going into the final round of competition, I wanted to adhere to some specific guidelines. I knew this was going to be my flavor pack, and I wanted to present a compelling, useful product at the end of the day. I tried limiting myself to useful concentrates that were off the beaten path but not unduly expensive or bizarre.

I tried a bunch of recipes at first, the front-runners were definitely a melon and hops recipe and a boozy and nutty tobacco cream. Those may both show up at some point, but after about 10 hours of feverish mixing on friday, I wasn’t really happy with where either of those were. Time to get some much needed rest, both for me and for my taste buds.

Coming back to it, the tobacco cream was promising, but I was worried that going with a tobacco, while definitely risky, was probably suicide in judging. The last version of that recipe was using FA Catalan Cream, FLV Cream, FA Hazelnut, FA Glory, and FW Whiskey. It was okay, but it really wasn’t popping for me and I wanted something more relatable. I kept coming back to it, and realized that the Catalan Cream, Hazel Nut and Whiskey were doing some really awesome things together.

In a random fit of inspiration, I tried to brainstorm something a bit more grounded that would take advantage of the catalan cream and the hazelnut combo. Then I went to the wall of concentrates and stared for a while. I landed on FA Zeppola and started to think about dry, nutty, bakeries and how they aren’t really a cornerstone of the mixing community. I thought Zeppola could work for that. I get drier cakey texture out of it, without any weird off-notes besides the powdered sugar and a forgiving steep requirement. I had my hook, I was going to make a layered S&V bakery that wouldn’t blow the taste buds out of your head.

From there, we had testing. Oh lord, the testing. I dropped the FLV Cream almost immediately. The added moisture was killing my texture from the zeppola. I ended up with zeppola, whiskey, catalan cream, and hazelnut. It reminded me of a bear-claw style danish, with a lighter fluffy base and some actual layering, with the hazelnut sitting on top and tasting a whole lot like slivered almonds. It was honestly pretty cool, and I committed to the profile. They wanted accurate, I was going accurate. A great test of my work so far at representative mixing.

Thinking and researching danishes, I ran across almond paste fillings. That seemed like a perfect fit. On to the marzipans! I ended up going with INW Marzipan. It has a great almond paste taste, some much needed body, and the sweetness was working like an icing. Super cool. As soon as I found the Marzipan, it was all recipe balancing. I found that I had a really neat layered almond danish flavor, but that percentages were super important. Small variations in any part of the recipe was causing the rest of it to collapse. On the bright side, the S&V parameter of the contest actually ended up being a boon because I could mix and judge the results immediately. If I was working with a steep intended, this would have probably taken a month worth of mixing to hit on. I landed on the following recipe, which I submitted with some reservations which I’ll go into below.


ATF Link

A danish with marzipan filling, light icing, and slivered almonds.

FA Catalan Cream- 1.5%

FA Hazelnut- .25%

INW Marzipan- .5%

FW Whiskey- .75%

FA Zeppola- .75%


FA Catalan Cream- This concentrate really does pull the recipe together. It adds a bit of creaminess, to keep the pastry from reading as too dry. It also lends a subtle spice note to the entire vape, with a hint of bakery cinnamon and nutmeg. The vanilla helps to build the base for the icing.

FA Hazelnut- Not a creamy flavor, more like nearly raw unshelled hazelnuts. It’s a strong concentrate, but at .25% it brings in just enough flavor and texture to simulate actual slivered almonds.

INW Marzipan- The almond paste filling for the pastry. Sweet, heavy with that almond-extract bordering on cherry flavor. The sweetness here, even at .5%, is enough to carry over and work with the catalan cream and zeppola to create a light icing for the danish.

FW Whiskey- This adds some warmth to the vape, reinforcing the bakery aspect. The oak notes help to bolster the spices from the catalan cream.

FA Zeppola- Fairly light at .75%, but with enough powdered sugar on top to sweeten up that icing as well as provide a lighter pastry base.

If you’re interested, the name was basically me making fun of my process and my recipe. About 3/4’s of the way into developing this recipe I realized I was working on something that was rigidly structured, technically impressive, and maybe just a bit joyless. I was brainstorming names and start looking at famous Danish things. You know, because I’m clever. I ran across Lars Von Trier, and a lightbulb kind of clicked. He initially broke into filmmaking with the rigidly structured, technically impressive, and definitely joyless Dogme 95 manifesto.

My Analysis of the Recipe

So I’m obviously biased here, but I think this recipe is kind of cool. It pulls off layers as a S&V and I’m pretty sure you haven’t tasted a recipe like this. And it really does taste like a danish.

In terms of flaws, there is one moderate flaw and one major flaw I’d like to touch on.

The less prominent flaw is FW Whiskey. This stuff can taste like dog food if you really look for it or already dislike it. I can’t disagree wholly, but I like the utility here in the recipe and in regular use it doesn’t jump out at me. If you feel like the FW Whiskey is a problem, it can be subbed for a warmer booze flavor of your choice. I’ve subbed for FA Brandy and TFA Kentucky Bourbon in here at equal percentages, and they both have their charms. I still think that FW Whiskey lends a better texture to the mix, but either of those will get you most of the way there.

And the major flaw… It’s a light flavor. Flavor percentage isn’t everything, but this clocks in at a whopping 3.75% flavor. I think it’s fairly accurate to profile, but it has some mouthfeel issues if you’re expecting a round full vape. This is where the balancing of the recipe gets tricky. My layering here is contingent on that lighter flavor. It’s actually easy to a get a bit more bottom end here, but you lose some of the flaky nuance. Strangely enough, if you add just .25% straight Acetyl Pyrazine to the recipe you lose most of the delicacy of the frosting note but you end up with a much fuller, nutty and breadier danish flavor.

The Infamous Flavor Pack, Wherein I Shill

So, part of the prize for the top three contestants was the compilation of, and a cut of the sales for, a flavor pack of one of the contest recipes from Bull City Flavors. Mine is Dogma.

If you’re interested, the flavor pack contains these 5 flavors:

FA Catalan Cream – Flavor Review

FA Hazelnut – Flavor Review

INW Marzipan – Flavor Review

FW Whiskey – Flavor Review

FA Zeppola – Flavor Review

If you’ll indulge even further, here are three reasons I think you should buy my flavor pack from Bull City.

You probably don’t have all of these flavors and they are actually pretty cool. I made a deliberate effort to make these flavors that aren’t super common, are reasonably priced, and all have pretty cool specific applications. The exception here is the Zeppola, but if you don’t have it yet you need it, and if you bought a tester you’re going to need some more soon.

This recipe is actually designed, in part, to work as single flavor. While that 3.75% flavoring makes a lighter full recipe, it gives you a lot of space to play around the base and fill it out the way you want to. I think, especially with an added .25% AP, it makes an excellent danish base for adding your own fruit fillings and toppings. That’s right, I went after Capella CDS. Tell me this isn’t a better take on a danish. Add your own cinnamon if you’d like.

I’m going to open about my cut from the sales here, and I’ll be rolling that entirely into single flavor testing reviews for the sub. This is supposed to be on sale for a month, and at the end of that period I’ll disclose exactly how much I made from it and I’ll open up the floor for review requests, with the stipulation I’m not doing the gross-out flavors yet. These will be my usual review style.

Here’s the link for the flavor pack if you’re interested:


If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading all of this. i think it’s a pretty good summary of me as a mixer, and it has that fun bit at the end where I try to get you to buy shit. I’m not saying that I’ve conquered representative mixing, but I feel comfortable enough in it that I can start to use it as another tool in my mixing kit. My ultimate goal is to be able to synthesize both my fondness for weird mixing, and my developing representational chops to the point where I can present re-contextualized takes on identifiable flavors. Real next level shit with things you love and remember and then intrigue you with the directions that they get taken. Who knows if I’ll ever get there, but this kind of experience can only help.

Seriously though, thank you to everybody. I’m a big fan of this place, and it doesn’t exist without you. Except for /u/ID10-T. He can kick rocks.

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Dogma, or How to Lose a Recipe Contest • r/DIY_eJuice