Classic ingredients are forever being adapted to grab the attention of consumers, whether they are shopping online or in-store.
Now more than ever, we are catching glimpses of products that force us to do a double-take and contemplate whether they sound too peculiar to sample.
One example that falls into the latter is Mary Janice Grant’s quirky creation – cocktail jams, with flavours including raspberry Bellini, strawberry and rhubarb punch, cherry bomb and sherry trifle.
For cocktail fans, like myself, the 47-year-old has provided the perfect excuse for us to enjoy the flavours of our favourite cocktails on every day snacks and bites. This can vary from scones, pancakes and toast to porridge and creamy desserts.
Based in Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Mary creates her range from scratch and is always looking for inspiration.
Hobby turned business
She works full-time for Aberdeenshire Council as a manager for cleaning services, dealing with cleaning in schools, offices, sheltered housing and other council buildings.
Proving “pretty full-on” over the past 18 months, she had no option but to put Mary’s Cocktail Jams on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, she has recently started taking orders from customers again.
“My job being so hectic over the past year and a half was a huge factor in the decision to put my jam business on hold,” Mary said.
“I make alcoholic jams based on cocktail recipes with the appropriate spirits added in after cooking, (less than 1% alcohol content, so a little bit naughty, but not naughty enough to get you into trouble).”
Mary provides a bespoke service, making the jams for weddings as favours and other events with personalised and commemorative labels and hats to match colour schemes, themes, and so on.
She continued: “Running my own business was not something I aspired to do, to be honest. It actually terrified me!
“One minute I was happily experimenting in my kitchen, then I was registering with Food Standards, buying insurance and trying to figure out how to bookkeep.
“I was experimenting with different flavours as a hobby and ended up making loads of different kinds, gifting them to friends and family.
“I’m also a keen gardener and had produced a bumper crop of berries, so needed to use them up.
“I was literally filling up every cupboard in the house with jam and friends kept telling me that I should be selling it, so I decided to take the plunge and start my wee business to sell at fayres – and it just went from there.”
Mojito, Bellini and more
The brand officially launched in October 2018 and the jams are priced from £2.75 to £5.50 for individual sales, while larger orders are available.
“I make several different kinds including a mojito range, raspberry Bellini, raspberry Bakewell, Bahama jam – which is banana and lime with Malibu and tastes a bit like a green Jelly Baby – strawberry and rhubarb punch, strawberry and pear punch, cherry bomb, and cherry Bakewell,” said Mary.
“I love developing new recipes, so the range has gradually expanded and will hopefully continue to do so.”
Although her range has proved a hit with customers, the business owner explained a lot of trial and error is involved when perfecting recipes.
She added: “I will basically look at a cocktail recipe and try to replicate that in a jam. Sometimes it works the first time, sometimes it needs some adjustment and other times it’s a disaster.
“The creating side has never really felt like a challenge, but production can be sometimes, especially with a full-time career alongside my business.
Making use of homegrown produce
Mary attends school and community-run fayres to sell her products, however, customers can also place orders on social media.
While she is currently focusing on stocking up and booking in events, for the time being, Mary has “big plans” for her garden space.
“I currently mostly use my own homegrown strawberries and rhubarb and I recently bought a small polytunnel, so I’m hoping to be able to grow even more of my own berries, including raspberries,” explained Mary.
“I will absolutely introduce more flavours. I’m also hoping to add to my range of chilli jams once I am back up and running, so it’s definitely worth watching this space!
For more information, call 07467465106 or email email@example.com.