Extra bitter. Two words that are music to my ears (-1 pt, mixed metaphor) when it comes to food. Yes, I love the bitter and the challenging. And the folks at Ruby D have been doing some experimenting. They have a original, spice, citrus, and this one- the extra bitter. All are small (very small) batch, made by hand with organic agave and all natural ingredients.
This variation arrived with a LOT of sediment on the bottom, and the color of almost packed clay.
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So we reviewed the French version of Schweppes’ European tonic waters not too long ago. The difference between the two is wide: night and day.
The French version uses a glucose-fructose syrup.
The British version uses sugar.
The British version has 150mL with a scant 22 calories.
The French version boasts 54 calories for the same amount.
The French version has nearly twice the sugar [13 grams]
as does the British version [7.7 grams]
And yet, despite being much less sweet, this version of Schweppes Indian Tonic doesn’t taste that much less sweet. It has some similar qualities: first, the quinine predominates. A fair amount of bitterness. But it doesn’t quite clean the palette in the same way that Q tonic does. Its a bit more acidic in quality, a bit more “dry.” The sweetness comes through even less in a Gin and Tonic, leaving lots of room for lemon or lime. When making cocktails with it, I even doubled up the lemon or lime to compliment the drink and round out the flavor.
The real sugar gives the drink a less syrupy character than the French version. I feel this one tastes “crisper” and “cleaner,” but perhaps a bit “more bitter” or an “acquired case.”
While I think its an excellent tonic that I wouldn’t be hesitant to recommend to a fan of gin, I can’t see it being too popular with those in search of something “sweet,” or to those who are big fans of supermarket tonics in the state.
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Some things strike me as just being plain “not fair.”
Here in the states we have one kind of Schweppes Tonic Water for sale. Its pretty much exactly what you expect: saccharine, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, and overall pretty much indistinguishable from other plastic bottle tonic waters available in supermarkets across America.
But overseas, there is this other kind of tonic water called “Indian Tonic Water.” Which (spoiler) means the exact same thing. It is simply put, tonic water. However, taste-wise it is radically different from anything we have on the mainstream US market.
It is slightly sweet, with a syrupy undertone, cut cleanly by a brisk dose of quinine that tastes at least two or three times more intense than the Schweppes I usually buy. The less-intense sweetness means that when you mix if it with gin, a lot more of the gin flavor actually comes through. Overall though, it makes for a much more bitter cocktail.
This is the kind of tonic that really made the lemon/lime a requirement. With not a lot of sweet, it leaves room for the natural sugars of a citrus fruit to make themselves known; whereas with your usual tonic water you might not even need that.
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