howdy y'all,

If you haven't been paying attention, I'm trying to follow a format for these posts that produces some variety in the content:

1st Tuesday - General profile discussion

2nd Tuesday - Recipe Discussion (review or development/flavor)

3rd Tuesday - Topical Discussion (DIY related)

4th Tuesday - Interview with a Mixer series

I'm competent enough to speak on a host of profiles for the General Profile Discussion, but I think it would be more useful to anyone reading if someone more versed in, say, Fruits wrote about it instead. It can be as specific or general as you want. Strawberries and Cream (shudder) is always a thing. Anyone interested to take on a profile for a month, next one is up in exactly three weeks, March 2nd. Consider it. Pretty please?

That outta the way, today I want to talk about:

How to Make a Basic AF Recipe.

Making something "great" or Recipe of the Year may very well be what you set out to do. There are certainly people here who are super ambitious and talented and set out to develop a recipe to do that. That wasn't me. I came in here never really liking commercial juices and very rarely finding ones I could enjoy for very long. After watching the New Amsterdam Vape's Video (dated, but still efficient) I was like, I can do this! I can make something tasty that hits all my spots. Then I made two major newbie mistakes:

  1. I ordered flavors based on names without doing the research.
  2. I just slapped those flavors together without finding recipes first.

Eventually, I asked for and then followed (key) some advice on recipes to try and flavors that sounded like what I was interested in. Listen, I didn't like every recipe I did try, but it helped me to keep from thinking that making something that was a complete profile was impossible. And as I went, I learned about how flavors interacted and how I might use them. But that is all for another post. For now, I will say I really wanted an apple fritter recipe and I tried really hard to make one. I slapped a zillion things together and it wasn't very good. I'm sure a few of you out there can relate.

But hear me out, slapping things together is also how this works. Even after you get some experience with some flavors, you're still slapping things together to see what works. Sometimes there's unusual combinations that just seem to work (just have a gander at Cabin for a mind meld). Sometimes they just make perfect sense. I'd put flv creme de menthe/choc deutch or pur country apple/inw baharaini apple gold in this latter category. The CdM/CD combo I had experimented on but wasn't sure of until I'd tried it in jbird's Skinny Mint recipe. And there it was, confirmed. PUR CA and BAG was all u/TBX-12's doing. I loved BAG and tried supporting it with FA Fuji which was the wrong combo over and over because I wasn't able to let go of trying to make it work. tbx tried a gang of stuff and found the perfect union.

What gets born from this kind of experimentation is a base or kernel you can work with for future mixes. And here is where the thrust of this post comes in: Making something GREAT usually comes from finding a combination you really like. So finding a combination or a pair that suits your taste is super important. If you have just four flavors flavors and you try a pairing them in two's to see what you like, you're going to have 6 combinations. Well, nerds, if we start increasing that number of flavors to 12 and use our handy Combinations Calculator that increases to a whopping 66. Kick that up to your first 100 flavors and you are looking at nearly 5,000 two flavor pairing combinations.

Knowing full well that:

  1. many of us have more than 12 flavors and
  2. not all flavors will I want to mix together obviously, we are not going to want to randomly try everything, so what do we do?

Assuming you have tried your flavors before (SFT or in a mix even) you can get a sense of what might work and you can narrow it down. Also, you can use the flavor affinities charts and make a mix simply by trying out flavors that have, throughout time, paired well for the human palate. Here's where your simple notes and ideas can come in to make an incredibly Basic AF recipe.

Me, I always liked apple vapes. Forget apple fritter. Not only has it been done (so i can just try all the ones out there), I realized I kinda wanted something different. Maybe more to my tastes. Ok, where to start? I decided I'm keeping the Apple idea but I'll pair it with RY4. I guess the idea is Apple + Caramel but nothing like a candy. I don't know what I am going for exactly but I'll try for some apple + caramel combinations. Without a doubt, I'm trying fa fuji with tpa ry4 double first. Actually, that's not true. Literally EVERY TIME I tried to mess with this combination at first it was FA. And it was the wrong apple. I kept saying, well I like this, lemme make this work. Maybe someone else can, but why? Fuji just sat on top like the sun shining over this pool of mud left from prior rains to cake and fossilize my months of footprints all over this combination. Perhaps I could have tried to fill in the in between. And I tried. Liquid Amber and fa + ry4d happened a few times. They just never excited me. Finally, I was ready to try something else, and why not? Especially when there are other apples to consider for the job.

I figure ok, my next two choices should be less bright, room for spice, darker or cooked in the flavor from jump. I decided to try PUR Country Apple or Hangsen Apple mix. What I should have done was try both, but at this point I was confident this would solve my problem of a too bright apple lording over the land. So, I decide to get frisky and layer in something to see how this will work.

apple ry4 (v1):

PUR Country Apple 3%
TPA RY4D 4%
INW Brown Sugar 1.5%

Not bad. Not great, but not bad. What's happening and what's missing? First of all, it sucked at first. For days. I should never have hit it like I did at first. I know that sometimes flavors need a few days, but RY4D just isn't exceptionally good imo until day 5-7. So, I almost gave up hope on my tester by the time it was almost coming together. That was frustrating and a good reminder to mix and toss in the drawer.

Regardless, once steeped, I liked that brown sugar poking through. The apple wasn't too strong, and seemed to fit well (hence the never trying of HS Apple Mix), the ry4D did what it was supposed to and gave it all a nice bottom to sit on. Ok, I can work with this. What to do now? I liked the whole desserty aspect of it. I figure why not play into that a little?

Apple Crumble (v2):

PUR CA 3
TPA RY4D 4
INW BS 1.5
WF Crumble Topping 1

I liked this one but I don't know what the heck I'm doing here so I asked myself, what do I want to happen next? What I want is more crumble so we'll up that, and maybe a little more mouth feel? Ok, let's try this:

Apple Crumble (v3):

PUR CA 3
TPA RY4D 4
INW BS 1.5
WF CT 1.5
TPA Marshmallow 2

Turned out to be an enjoyable vape. While Marsh was probably too high, I still enjoyed it. However, it just didn't feel right. The gooey mouthfeel seemed to kind of conflict with what I wanted and the flavor too stark. So, I figured how can I introduce a 'new' component in here that maybe could consolidate some things rather than adding? I remembered how much I enjoyed the FLV Oatmeal Raisin SFT I did; it has a nice brown sugar note and I only got a hint of Oatmeal and Raisin so I figured this was a safe bet. I could consolidate some things and maybe get closer to that baked-apple-caramel-thingy I appeared to be angling for.

Apple Oat Crumble v4:

PUR CA 3
TPA RY4D 4
WF CT 1.5
FLV Oatmeal Raisin 2.5

Why FLV OR so high? I dunno. I figured, what the hell, it's doing double time to make up for the dropping of the Brown Sugar and I thought maybe it would be good to push the oat raisin notes as a counterpoint to the ry4/apple as a combo rather than as a third in the triad. So, how was it? Not bad. Not bad at all. I rather like it, although the apple/ry4 kernel took a backseat, and not in the way I had intended. The OR was maybe just a tad high, but now I'm thinking swapping tpa RY4D for a more distinct RY4 like MB RY4. It can pull some of the brown sugar weight and I can drop down that OR some. It was too much dark fruit grainy overshadowing the apple.

So... Let's lower the OR, leave the Crumble (not entirely sure it is needed here, so probably swap out later or ditch), swap the TPA for MB, and look for how the apple comes through later with this new balance. If it doesn't, I may have to try some other combinations with fa fuji/liquid amber, hs apple mix, and PUR side by side to see which one suits my taste better. But surely by then, I will be on to the next thing...

Final Thoughts

So what's the take away? This is essentially my process for developing a basic mix: find a pairing that is good or tolerable and keep tweaking it depending on how I feel. Knowing your flavors obviously helps, but you also really never know how something will work until you try it. This process doesn't work for making something amazing off the bat, but it is really similar to how most beginners can develop a mix by adding and taking away through testing, tasting, and experience. Where a beginner may not know which flavors to try next or be best suited for a job, you can always join the discord and ask a question in #flavor-talk and get a bunch of great leads on what to try next.

And, always always always take notes. Which I don't do, ofc. :) or you will be vaping unique works of art that will never get recreated; sometimes I rather enjoy that thought too...

If you want to see an example of how helpful it can be to take notes and develop something over the course of time, check out this amazing recipe share by u/bigtidder Hungry Hippo Safari. He was able to pick up after 2 years and finish his recipe. Amazing stuff, Tidder!

Keep mixing keep sharing,

- i