Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Alley Twenty Six is a well recognized cocktail bar and restaurant— where Alley Twenty Six Tonic Syrup has appeared on their cocktail menu.
Created by Behind the Stick Provisions out of Durham, Alley Twenty Six Tonic Syrup features lemongrass and lime juice. It is also sweetened with regular old sugar.
Shake well before opening and pouring. Alley Twenty Six Tonic Syrup is rich with cinchona bark sediment that will break from solution. It has a deep burnt umber color to it.
It’s quite viscous when poured. The nose is unusual. Hints of chili pepper with a faint wooden smokiness.
Sipped on its own, Alley Twenty Six Tonic Syrup is a bit gritty to the mouthfeel. There’s a good deal of sediment in here. It’s only slightly bitter with hints of chalk and citrus.
Mixing with simply soda— it’s a bit of a battle. You want to balance it so that the flavor comes through, but also to kind of keep the grittiness at bay.
Fans of mild, more-spice forward tonics will like Alley Syrup though. The bitterness is subtle and not overpowering. It has more flavor and character with less bitterness than others.
Gin and Tonic
The back of the bottle recommends adding fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice to your Gin and Tonic. I mixed a G&T with Leopold’s Gin and I thought that this was the lift it needed. The citrus provided brightness and accentuated some of the spice notes.
I recommend pairing this tonic syrup with an assertive juniper-forward gin like Gordon’s or Sipsmith VJOP.
Overall, Alley Twenty Six Tonic Syrup
While for a tonic soda— it’s not all that successful for me. It’s a bit too gritty with far too much sediment.
If you’re mixing a gin and tonic I suggest following the ratios on the bottle. But add the booze, tonic syrup and lime juice to shaker with ice. Shake vigorously before adding the soda water.
Fans of less bitter tonic syrups who don’t mind a brown hue will find Alley Twenty Six a welcome addition to their home tonic program.
Find Alley Twenty Six Tonic Syrup
It is available online from the Alley Twenty Six shop. $13 for 12.5 ounces.