Articles Tagged: Tonic Syrup

Tonic Water

Haber’s Spicy Hibiscus Tonic Syrup

Haber's-Hibiscus-Tonic-Syrup

Russet in hue, Haber’s Hibiscus Spicy Hibiscus Tonic is the more floral offering to complement their primary offering Haber’s Tonic. Crafted in my very neighborhood, I’ve seen Haber’s locally at a few bars and small local stores. I included their tonic in my tonic syrup giveaway this past fall, and when I did, they sent me a preview of their forthcoming Hibiscus tonic.

On the nose, the syrup has a lot of ginger, hibiscus flower and vegetal, peppery notes underneath. Sipping it, you realize that the note of hot pepper and the label “spicy” doesn’t refer to an abundance of spice as much as it serves a note: there’s hot pepper in here.

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Tonic Water

Hella Tonic (original)

Hella-Tonic

Founded in Brooklyn, produced in Queens and proudly representing New York City, The Hella Company is small batch, all natural and handcrafted. Originally started as a bitters company, they’ve recently moved into the world of tonic syrups as well. Today we’re reviewing their baseline offering, a combination of citrus peels, real sugar, lemongrass and other undisclosed spices. They offer other tonic syrups, including a Hibiscus variant as well.

Tasting Notes

A surprising herbal note, is present on the nose as well. It’s deep, surprisingly resinous and green.

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Tonic Water

Ruby D Extra Bitter Quinine Tonic

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.

Tasting Notes

This variation arrived with a LOT of sediment on the bottom, and the color of almost packed clay.

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Tonic Water

Bradley’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Kina Tonic

Bradley's Kinda Barrel Aged Tonic Syrup

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.

Tasting Notes

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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Tonic Water

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Elderflower Tonic

jack-rudy-bottle

As Tonic Syrups become more and more part of everyday gin and tonic culture, we’re starting to see established brands expand their offerings. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. who is among the earlier names in this area recently put out an Elderflower Tonic. Though amber/gold in hue (vivid, and quite beautiful by the way), it’s not simply elderflower; it’s elderflower and quinine. The label isn’t coy about the bottle’s contents: quinine concentrate, water, citric acid, sugar, lemongrass, orange peel, and elderflower.

So we pretty know what’s in here. How does this sparse, curated list of ingredients work though?

Tasting Notes

On its own hints of rainbow sherbet, musky elderflower and a vegetal, slightly herbaceous low note. It smells ripe, but quite inviting as well. As if a bee drawn to a flower, we go in further.

The palate is somewhat sweetened at first, with elderflower immediately present, lime and orange peel notes leading into a quite tart, sour mid-late palate. A dash of cinchona comes in late, adding some nicely needed bitterness. The finish is floral and deep, with intimations of lily and hyacinth.

I liked the way it mixed with gin and tonic as well.

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Tonic Water

El Guapo Bitters Tonic Syrup

el-guapo-tonic-syrup

El Guapo Bitters British Colonial Style Tonic Syrup fits squarely into the modern day trend of commercial tonic syrups. It’s also designed to be “highly concentrated” so that you only need a dash for each serving, Whereas many syrups minimum G&T serving is around 1 oz. [and therefore 8-9 servings per bottle], El Guapo suggests ¼ oz, which would give you a whopping 34 G&T’s from the 8.5 oz bottle.

The nose is dusty and thick, with aromas of clay, barbeque pit, and tart, sweet, citrus fruits: lemon and orange primarily. Ginger hovers hazily in the low notes with some wood as well.

On its own, it’s incredibly thick and viscous. Argent citrus zest aglow at first, lemongrass, tart grapefruit juice, and a wood. It has the flavor of quinine bark— you’ll especially know this if you’ve ever opened up a package of the bark yourself, you get the aroma of the bark without the bitterness, that’s what’s happening here. The finish is tart, with lemongrass, and a peculiar dustiness as well. It has some interesting flavors to be sure, but it’s lacking in that bitter quinine quality. Also, keeping in mind that this is supposed to be highly concentrated, I’d imagine not many people are drinking the syrup on its own.

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Tonic Water

Bradley’s Kina Tonic

kina-tonic-bottle

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.

The story:

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.

Tasting Notes

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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Tonic Water

Pinckney Bend Classic Tonic Syrup

Pinckney Bend Tonic Syrup

Here, two emergent trends in tonic collide: first, the trend towards tonic syrups: concentrated, sweet, herbal concoctions designed to be diluted with soda water before drinking. The second trend is that of “companion” tonics: that is tonics made by distillers, crafted in such a way that it perfectly compliments the spirit.

Pinckney Bend has designed a tonic to compliment their Pinckney Bend Gin. They are the only companion tonic syrup on the market right now, but others have pushed this idea forward in the past.

The Recipe

As you know by know, the “recipe” or ratios that are recommended vary from tonic to tonic. Here is Pinckney Bend’s:

1 part Pinckney Bend Gin 1 part Tonic Syrup 4 parts Soda water stir, and garnish with a lime wedge.

Thoughts: most tonic syrup ratios advocate for 2 parts of their gin. This is a case where “companion” should be taken quite seriously to understand. Their gin is a little stronger than most [93 proof] and has a good deal of heat. For companion purposes, I think this ratio works. For other gins, I’d suggest perhaps looking a bit closer to the 3 parts soda, 2 parts gin, 1 part tonic, that most bottles lean towards.

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Tonic Water

Haber’s Tonic Syrup

habers tonic bottle

While strolling a local street festival this past summer I stumbled upon Haber’s tonic. Imagine my surprise, walking a festival where the only things I expect to find are cheap socks and $20 1000 threat count sheets, and perhaps more than one stand of burned CDs and no fewer than 3 or 4 folks selling lemonade and grilled corn- I found something new, and oddly enough for me walking at a street festival: something I actually wanted.

Even more exciting for me as a proud resident of Astoria, it is made locally. Naturally, this is perhaps the most exciting street fair find of the year for me. For my wife, her favorite find might have been the free sunglasses from Seamless. But that’s another story.

Haber’s tonic syrup is an amber golden brown, with even a hint of something reddish in there. Visually brighter than other tonic syrups and very opaque.

Flavorwise, it’s quite sweet, a good deal of citrus on the mid-notes, and the finish has a mild amount of quinine and some ginger- maybe even a touch of lemongrass on the finish. It tastes zesty and fresh, very bright.

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Tonic Water

Strong Tonic

strong-tonic-bottle

I can’t get enough tonic syrup. This is  by far the best trend to hit gin since gin became cool again.

Straight out of Oklahoma City.

I know, you probably didn’t think of Oklahoma as a hot bed of cocktail incubation. But this is what I love about the craft spirits thing. It’s everywhere. Really. This isn’t just a New York thing. Or a Seattle thing. This thing is going on everywhere. So although Oklahoma doesn’t have a gin yet [do you hear me Oklahomans? I’m anxiously awaiting. Call me!] our nation’s 46th state is contributing to the gin revolution in this country.

Okay, enough with the history you say! How does it taste?

So! How does it Taste? I’m going to reverse things up a bit here and talk a little about how it mixes first.

Strong Tonic advocates a recipe for G&T as followed:

    3 parts soda water 2 parts gin 1 part tonic syrup garnish with citrus

I found this to be an effective and quite good ratio. When mixed with gin, the initial thoughts were a “tad fruity,” “christmas and holiday spices,” “remarkably different than other tonic syrups.”

It makes a good G&T, a tad more sweet than other tonic syrups by volume hence the ratio above.

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