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.
This variation arrived with a LOT of sediment on the bottom, and the color of almost packed clay. The nose is appreciably woody and slightly calciferous. The palate is, true to the name, extremely bitter with a lot of quinine. In terms of pure bitterness, it might be the most true-to-tonic-water of the syrups I’ve had— and not necessarily a a knock in quality to the others— but in the sense that the focus isn’t on all the exotic herbs, barks, and spices that have been added. The emphasis is on the bitterness, and although it’s loud, woody, with notes of chalk, cinchona, and birch. There’s a slight citric acid tartness, and a mild hint of daisies and chamomile late as well. It’s really a quinine lovers’ tonic syrup, although. If the other syrups on the market aren’t bitter enough for you, this is. This is a malaria-fighting quinine-chock syrup unlike anything a lot of the other options out there. It trades sweetness for more of the good stuff.
One of the challenges might be here that it’s a little too assertive, and I found it overwhelming when paired with milder gins. I found even some gins around 45% ABV to be a little overwhelmed, especially the finishes. I suggest a slight tweak to their ratio.
1-2 oz of gin
3-4 oz club soda
¾ oz. Ruby D Tonic Syrup
2 oz. of Navy Strength Gin
4 oz. of Tonic Syrup
¾ oz. Ruby D Tonic Syrup
Yep, it’s a strong one. But I think the higher proof guarantees more flavor, and the higher amount of tonic cuts back on the overwhelming bitterness. What I really like about this drink though is that the overall impression seems closer to a gin and tonic water, because there’s less loud flavors going on.
This is a bitter lovers’ tonic, but a good one at that. It’s most definitely not for everyone, but I think it’s a small niche in the market that hasn’t been filled yet. I like what the folks at Ruby D are doing, and I think this is an exciting syrup that you should check out if you’ve been looking for “more quinine” in your life.
Not for everyone, but this is a niche that’s been waiting to be filled. Very bitter, and while it doesn’t completely eschew the veritable grimoire of herbs and spices that others have, it squarely places them behind the cinchona in the mix. Works well with higher proof gins of all varieties, though we suggest that those without a taste for the bitter look elsewhere. It’s a niche 4. If you like the sound of that, you’ve probably been looking for something like this to come out. Highly recommended.