Hella Tonic (original)

Price: $13 / 12.5 oz.
Best consumed: With a strong Juniper forward or spice forward contemporary style gin.
Sweetener: Sugar
Availability: Online or more widely in New York City area
Rating: Citrus is the star, but it’s nicely balanced with less of an emphasis on the woody notes that can muddy up other tonic syrups and just the right amount of sweetness. I think people looking for a super bitter syrup, might be disappointed; however, I think Hella Tonic will appeal to a wide audience and is worth checking out if you’re looking for a new tonic syrup for your home or bar.

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. It’s leafy and dark, buoyed by clean citrus— lemon and orange primarily and hints of gingerbread cookie and molasses. Nice and complex, with a lot going on, and nothing in particular standing head and shoulders above the other.

The palate is green and bitter at the front (I’m thinking that while on the nose I might have guessed Rosemary, here it tastes more in line with the lemongrass that’s on the ingredient list) with a clean and muted quinine character. Heavy on the palate cleansing astringency but mild on the woody/bark-heavy quinine that a lot of tonic syrups rely heavily on. The finish is citrus heavy with bitter orange peel and white grapefruit as well. Perfectly sweetened, it’s Goldilocks “just right,” in my estimation with neither too much nor too little.

With soda water it takes on a really straightforward profile with clean bitterness at the fore and citrus on the back. Hints of lemongrass emerge if you increase the ratio of syrup just a tad above 2:1, but overall, it’s really about the citrus and that grapefruit note really seems amplified here. Very nice though, I’m enjoying this.

With gin, it makes for a really nice balance. I’m getting a lot of fresh white grapefruit again here, and a modicum of bitterness. It’s fresh and quite well balanced. I quite dig this, especially if you’re looking for a nice citrus forward complement to your next Gin and Tonic. Recommended. 

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