Tassoni is an Italian tonic water that has two unusual botanical takes— first for its citrus flavor— then again for its bitterness.
Tassoni uses natural citron in addition to citric acid. Citrons have an incredibly thick rind, which is primarily the part that’s eaten (the minute quantity of pulp is dry rather than juicy). The rind is candied, turned into jams and used medicinally. Known since antiquity, even Pliny the Elder commented on the fruit:
“The citron tree […] the fruit, it is never eaten, but it is remarkable for its extremely powerful smell […] Citrons, either the pulp of them or the pips, are taken in wine as an antidote to poisons. A decoction of citrons, or the juice extracted from them, is used as a gargle to impart sweetness to the breath.” [source]
Secondly, Tassoni Tonica gets its bitterness from the Quassia tree rather than the Cinchona tree. Quassia is a South American plant family. Quassia amara was an important traditional medicine on the continent’s northern coast. Similar to cinchona, some of the chemical constituents of the bark have antimalarial properties, and it adds a similar bitter quality.
Finally, it seems that all over the internet— in other reviews and on the Amazon product page— others have repeated the mistranslation of “cedral” as cedar. In Italian, cedral is the word for Citron. Tassoni Tonica is flavored with citron and quassia— there is no cedar.
Lots of small to medium-sized bubbles burst forth from the tonic when poured. They do rather quickly evaporate however, as they seem sparse on the bottom of the glass only twenty seconds after being poured.
The nose is delicately citrus. I’m getting hints of Mineola and tangerine. Tassoni Tonica has a lot of citrus character. On the palate, it’s only gently citrus flavored. You get a tart note of citron early, which lulls for a second before the bitterness comes on. A fair amount of sweetness mid-palate gives it some body. It’s not cloying; however, it’s prominent.
I’m pressed to characterize the Quassia as imparting anything unusual. Perhaps it’s slightly less metallic and prickly than other tonic waters; however, if I hadn’t read about the Quassia I wouldn’t have assumed anything otherwise.
The good news is that however they got the bitterness into Tassoni Tonica— it’s as expected.
Tassoni’s finish is moderately-long with a faint bitterness. Finishes clean and crisply. On its own, it’s an enjoyable mild citron soda. As a tonic, it has a lot of qualities I look for in a tonic. Pleasant flavor, clean long-lasting bitterness— those are definitely there; however, I’d say the carbonation and effervescence departs almost too quickly. Sipped straight from the bottle, it’s clear that the fizz is there. It does seem to get flatter more quickly in your glass than other tonic waters.
Mixing with Gin
With gin, Tassoni Tonic adds a nice citrus initial note and a pleasant bitter finish. I think its a solid option for tonics that far exceeds the inexpensive supermarket brands and ranks favorably among some of the top names.
It’s hard to find still. Tassoni doesn’t have wide availability quite yet. I found mine through Amazon, which is where I”d recommend sourcing it. Overall Tassoni Tonica to me is most like an upscale improvement on Hasnen’s tonic with citrus flavoring. But unlike Hansen’s, the citrus notes of Tassoni pair well across all gins, including other gins which feature citrus, or more classic style gins.
Recommended in its category.