Achieve another level of G&T perfection
By Sam Coyne
It’s often easy to overlook tonic water as a gin fan, simply because we’re fascinated by the nuances and details of our favourite spirits, or perhaps even guilty of trying to encourage people to sip their gin neat. However, it’s still hard to imagine that we’d be consuming gin in the quantity and with the fervour that we are, if the tonic water industry hadn’t received a firm kick up the rear.
If we’re saying it helped get the ball rolling on the gin-boom, tonic companies haven’t been afraid to innovate and explore with different flavours and a varying selection of ingredients.
New releases are frequent (although still lagging behind the number of new gins that seem to appear each day), and pairing them with specific gins is increasingly becoming an art-form known only to a select few.
In an age where people are more inclined to look for healthy, handmade (dare I say artisanal?) options, tonic companies have jumped on board with this particular innovation too. It also adds another layer of fanciness, for when you’re trying to impress by building the most complicated G&T. We look at a number of the options out there for a do-it-yourself tonic.
Syrups are a good option for someone who looks to vary the strength of flavour they get from their tonic. Essentially, you can add another layer of perfection to your favourite tipple. They’ve also proved a hit with a number of trendy bartenders who are looking to enhance certain notes when preparing gin and tonics.
Oddly, it seems like this trend has come from North America, where tonic syrups are far more established than tonic waters, although increasingly Fever-Tree seem to be making in-roads in the United States.
¾ oz. from Montreal, Canada, are one such producer, making tonic syrups that they claim bring a refined and fresh taste to cocktails. Founded by Alexandrine Lemaire and Hannah Palmer, their range includes Sirop Tonic Maison, Cola Syrup, Ginger Ale Syrup, Spritz Syrup and Honey Sour Syrup, so the scope to play around with your drinks goes further than simply your G&T.
The Tonic Maison is however, where we focus our attention. Made from Cinchona bark, it is far more dialled down in sweetness compared to your normal tonic waters.
Initially, you’d be forgiven for being a little disturbed by its amber colour. Don’t be, it’s all part of the organic/hipster lifestyle you’ve now adopted since using tonic syrups and comes as a result of the use of cinchona bark.
The recipe is pretty simple and naturally can be varied:
• 0.75oz. (22ml) of Tonic Maison
(hence the brand name)
• 1.25oz. (37ml) of gin
• 2-3oz. (85ml) of sparkling water
A bottle, which in the UK can be purchased from supermarkets including Waitrose, serves 25 drinks and costs £7.99, so just over 30p per serving. The syrups have enough flexibility to be used outside of gin and tonics. ¾ oz. recommend on their website the following:
Gin+Ger Apple Pie
• 1 ½ oz. of gin (they recommend St-Laurent)
• 1 oz. of ginger syrup
• 2 oz. apple juice
• 2 oz. of water
Heat the water and apple juice in a small pot. In a glass, add the gin and syrup. Transfer the warm apple juice and water into the glass and garnish with candied ginger and apple slices.
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. is another producer taking inspiration from the bar scene. It’s a family-run business with bases in Charleston, South Carolina and Lexington Kentucky, producing all the little additions that add up to an authentic bar experience.
They compare their Classic Tonic Syrup to a quinine concentrate. Simply pair it up with your gin of choice. When making a long drink such as a G&T, just add soda water to suit your palate. Other syrups on offer include Sweet Tea, Demerara and Elderflower (which pairs excellently with gin), while Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. does indeed produce its own tonic water. If you fancy a more fulsome, drier gin and tonic, the Extra Bitter Tonic is also an option that was initially produced for the palates of British drinkers – dry and bitter.
• 1.5 oz. Plymouth Gin
• ½ oz. apple brandy
• ¾ oz. lemon juice
• ¾ oz. Jack Rudy Demerara Syrup
• ¼ oz. Jack Rudy Grenadine
Add ingredients to a shaker without ice. Shake for around 30 seconds before adding ice. Shake again and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. If you’re feeling fancy and want to go for the full Jack Rudy vibe, garnish with three Jack Rudy Bourbon Cherries skewered.
Widely available in the US, for UK consumers the online site Master of Malt is your go-to for Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
Bermondsey Mixer Co.
In the UK, it would be rude not to look at Bermondsey Mixer Co. Based in London, they are another company producing a tonic water and tonic syrup, affording gin aficionados with choice and flexibility. The company began life at London bar two1four, as Nick Crispini and Lawrence Mason found the taste of quinine extract used in many commercial tonics too overpowering for the increasingly subtle nuances in premium gins.
The pre-made tonic offers a warming dryness, it is down a notch on both bitterness and sweetness. The guys recommend pairing with gins, tequila and even Vermouths and amaros. The syrup is left part unfiltered and from a bottle you’ll get around 20 serves, which all adds up to a mellowed out gin and tonic.
For a G&T
• 25ml Bermondsey Mixer Co. Tonic Syrup
• 50ml gin
• Top with soda water
(From Bermondsey Mixer Co.)
• 35ml gin
• 23ml sweet Vermouth
• 15ml Bermondsey Tonic Syrup
• 10ml Campari
For a less bitter take on the classic Negroni, mix the ingredients over ice. Stir until chilled and finish with a garnish of orange peel.
Bermondsey Mixers are available across Europe and on sites such as Master of Malt, Ocado and The Whisky Exchange.
More syrups are available and this is simply a selection of our favourites. They are largely US based, as the tonic waters enjoyed in the UK increasingly find their way in the US and the syrups crop up in the UK. With the flexibility that they afford, tonic syrups will be finding their way behind bars and into our homes as we seek to customise our favourite gin drinks even further.