Since our last update in 2012, we’ve reviewed a lot more Tonic waters and syrups. Being one of our most popular features (ever) written, we felt it time to update based on several years of additional research. As always, you can check out our entire tonic review archive and search for your personal favorites.
A couple of quick considerations and notes: The list does not correspond directly with our star ratings (though there are many highly rated tonics on here). It instead looks at a tonic and how well it works in a wide range of G&T’s. It’s a guideline for what might be the most versatile, general recommendation. For those looking for something more specific, there are lots of excellent tonics that don’t appear here, even though we love them.
Also, tonic waters and syrups appear side by side on this year’s list, though we may break them out in the future. I’m curious to hear what you think, do you consider tonic waters and syrups side by side? Or are they their own thing? Let me know in the comments. Without further ado, here’s your top 10 for 2015.
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We’ve reviewed Bradley’s Kina Tonic () here before, and well we quite liked it. Like a lot. So naturally, we’re excited about their latest offering, a first as far as we know, a tonic syrup aged in barrels which held Bourbon and after that Big Gin (). Yes, that is a lot of stars between the two of them.
The nose is fresh with a lot of vibrancy. Orange oil, hints of ginger and fresh tree bark. It has a summery, backyard sort of aroma to it. Bright citrus at first, lemon and orange, with a lemongrass/lemon verbena note in the middle. Wood comes through mid-palate, with shades of cedar and cherry. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and even a dash of lavender. The finish is clean, and brisk with the quinine being remarkably subtle.
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Occasionally, it takes me a while to get around to getting a review up. I’ve had this wonderful bottle of tonic syrup chronicled in my notes for some time. I unexpectedly received another bottle very recently which prompted me to look in my notes and realize [to my chagrin] that I have not written about this fantastic syrup here.
Bradley’s Kina Tonic is small batch, made by hand, and hails from Seattle [Hi Seattle!]. It’s alike many other tonic syrups in terms of appearance and aroma; however, you won’t quite know exactly how it differs until you open it up. That’s right, the “spices” labeled on the back are not listed. They’re a secret. You’ll just have to taste for yourselves.
The color is a light cocoa, with this hint of rusty maroon, giving it an almost ciderish appearance. The liquid is thick and somewhat viscous; however, not unctuous I’d place it somewhere in the middle, and perhaps slightly less rich and syrupy than other tonic syrups.
The nose is lemongrass, orange, and nutmeg. It smells a bit rich and earthy, with some background notes that read as somewhat sweet; however, it is the spice and citrus which carries through most strongly.
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