Boise, Idaho’s East End Tonic company uses organic and sustainably grown herbs and ingredients. What really sets them apart are two novel additions that aren’t seen in other tonic syrups.
The Pau d’arco tree is native to the South American rainforest. A tea made from the tree’s inner bark known as Lapacho has been used in traditional medicine by indigenous peoples including the Incas. The tea is widely available as a holistic treatment for a number of conditions. The tree itself is best known for its pink spring flowers, for which it is more commonly known as the Pink Trumpet Tree.
And then there’s the sweetener. East End Tonic has zero calories. Period.
Monk Fruit Extract is said to be nearly 200 times sweeter than sugar. So-named because it was widely cultivated by Monks in Southeast Asia as early as the 12th century C.E.— it’s come into vogue recently as an alternative sweetener. Especially because Monk Fruit Extract does not affect blood sugar levels.
East End Tonic uses Lakanto Monk Fruit sugar substitute in their tonic tonic syrup.
The nose is sweet smelling, with a rose and cherry wood aroma. In fact, it has a nose similar to other tonic syrups. Bold with a spicy under current— East End Tonic is quite inviting just as a syrup right from the bottle.
On its own, it’s surprisingly and mildly sweet early. For fans of cane sugar— you can tell this is a non-traditional sweetener. But for people who are skeptical or downright not into no/low-calorie sweeteners, East End Tonic tastes surprisingly not at all like those.
Tasting wise early, there’s a slight hint of cinnamon bark and lemon oil. Mid-palate, the bitterness and earthy, woodiness of the two bark ingredients takes over. The quinine note is short, while a tart-citrus impression endures on the back of the palate for some time.
There’s a long, mild after-taste.
Mixed with soda water, I find the bitterness a bit more clear and some of the tart citrus oil notes balanced out. Even the sweetness comes across as a bit more traditionally sweet. Again, it’s probably not going to fool people. It doesn’t taste like sugar. But you know what, it tastes better than every other alternative sweetener I’ve tried. As just a soda, it’s pretty good.
East End Tonic and Warfield Distillery No Return Gin
When sipping an Idaho-made tonic syrup, why not do so with an Idaho distilled gin. We’re trying it with Warfield Distillery’s No Return Gin out of Ketchum, Idaho.
Together they work well. But again, let me come back to the sweetness aspect of East End Tonic. I mixed to the specifications on the back of the label. Ratio-wise this is one of the smallest amounts of tonic syrup I’ve seen per cocktail to date.
A scant ½ oz. of syrup, to 3 parts gin and 6 parts soda water. The sweetness is mild and subtle. The flavors of the gin are the stars. Though I’d like a bit more quinine/bitterness notes on the finish, I do appreciate restraint with cinchona bark as some tonic syrups are pushing the boundaries and endangering folks with cinchonism.
Overall, East End Tonic
Certainly East End Tonic is one of the most unusual tonic syrups I’ve reviewing in recent years. If you’re watching your blood sugar or prefer to imbibe with a zero calorie tonic water— I think this is the best option out there. I vastly prefer East End Tonic Syrup’s use of Monk Fruit to other artificial sweeteners.
Most importantly, as a cocktail. It stands on its own. I would prefer more bitterness in my tonic. And although I prefer real sugar in my drinks, I have to give serious props and respect to what they’ve done here.
Highly Recommended in its category.