A few years ago we discovered tonic syrup. We think it’s a great addition to any bar seen as it allows you to control exactly how much tonic flavor you put in your drink without adding undue dilution. Recently, Christa picked up a bottle of & Tonic, another local tonic here in Seattle. It’s quite tasty and makes a lovely G&T.
That said, we noticed that all anyone seems to make with tonic syrup are G&T’s and vodka tonics. Both are delicious, but we were curious how well tonic syrup paired with other spirits. It seems a shame to keep it limited to a couple of hot-weather libations. With that in mind, we set out to find out what other drinks we could concoct with it.
We figured clear spirits were a gimme, but we wanted to see if we could keep that pairing to a dull roar. Out of the gate, Christa thought that fizzy wine or Lillet might pair reasonably well. The Lillet was too sweet and and had a muddled flavor with the tonic. The fizzy wine was much better, but it was still lacking. Alone, it was a bit dry and thin. A splash of vodka (yes, we did fall back to that, just a little ;)) gave it more body and simple syrup gave it more sweetness (we tried honey but the flavor wasn’t as clean as with the sugar). Good so far, but it still needed a little more brightness and depth. We tried nectarine liqueur, but that didn’t play well with the bitterness from the tonic. Maybe something sweet and floral instead? The Creme Yvette was next to the nectarine liqueur in the cabinet, so we grabbed that. It rounded out the drink perfectly, yay!
- 1 oz vodka
- 1/2 oz tonic syrup
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- 1/2 oz Creme Yvette
- 4 oz sparkling wine
Shake first 4 ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lime twist.
- Nose: Lime, quinine, mineral-y wine, hint of violet.
- Palate: Sweet violet and mineral-y, slate-y wine on the front. Lime, citrus peel, more violet, and a little bit of yeastiness from the wine on the mid-palate. Finish is sharp, and clean with a good quinine bite.
This is a really nice fizzy wine cocktail when you want something with decent complexity and pronounced floral notes, say, a garden party (which we know oh so much about. OK, no, not really, but it’s super tasty).
For cocktail #2, we wanted to try an aged spirit as that seemed like an interesting challenge. And challenge it was; rye and anejo tequila were not nice, as the tonic brought out the woody notes in those spirits too strongly. Next up we pulled out calvados and cognac. Both worked, but we felt the calvados paired more readily, with the fruit flavor counterbalancing the bitterness. The calvados and tonic reminded Christa somewhat of a Robert Burns, and she felt a tiny bit of absinthe would round it out. She was correct. So we had a good base, but it was super dry. A touch of simple syrup brought it into line.
- 2 1/2 oz calvados
- 1/2 oz tonic syrup
- 2 bar spoons simple syrup
- 1 bar spoon absinthe
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.
- Nose: Apple, anise, citrus peel (orange and lemon mainly, this particular tonic syrup is very citrus forward)
- Palate: Sweet apple and anise to start, almost like an apple and fennel salad. Mid-palate is barrel notes, oak, and dried citrus peel with a hint of molasses. Finish is bitter quinine, fresh lemon peel, and cooked apple, quite dry after a somewhat sweet start.
This cocktail turned out quite nicely, with the apple and tonic making for a surprising but lovely combination.
There you have it, tonic actually pairs well with several other spirits. If you’ve got a bottle or four, we recommend you try it with a few other things than gin. As much as we love a good G&T, we’re all about having options. If you haven’t picked up any of the really lovely tonic syrups out there, we highly recommend doing so. They really make a vastly superior G&T if nothing else ;). Until next time, cheers!