Mary Pellettieri— co-founder of La Pa Pavia beverages, creators of the Top Note line— began her career at Goose Island Brewery. She then worked at Coors. So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that on the label for Top Note Indian Tonic Water she borrows from the world of beer to describe it: “The IPA of tonics.”
Conceptually Top Note Indian Tonic Water is unusual. It sets out to complicate the bitter element of tonic water. While tonic water is usually defined by the quinine or cinchona element, Top Note adds gentian root.
Gentian root is a wonderful different type of bittering agent. It has an earthy, sweet flavor. It’s also the primary bittering agent in cocktail bitters and a variety of liqueurs and amaros including Suze and Aperol just to name a couple.
Top Note Indian Tonic Water has a top note of ginger and a hint of citrus. It has a much more distinctive spice-aroma than other tonic waters. I’d say it smells more like a soda.
The palate is roundly sweet with an early note slightly suggestive of ginger ale— then the gentian root comes through with a creamy, palate cleansing bitterness. It’s a bit more bitter than a traditional tonic water— but Top Note Indian Tonic Water is noticeably more complex.
It’s worth saying that this is one of the first tonic waters I’ve had that could rightly said to be a soda first and a mixer second. It’s really good on its own.
Top Note Indian Tonic Water and Gin
This is where I find it to be one of the more intriguing options for making a G&T. But I’ll begin with this— it’s going to be a bit more of its own thing rather than your traditional gin and tonic. If you want what you’re used to getting, stick to Fever Tree or Schweppes.
First thing I notice in a G&T is that Top Note Indian Tonic Water adds a note that reminds me of what happens when you add bitters to your drink. If you’re into bitters in your gin and tonic, this drink is for you.
With a good classic style gin, it starts a bit out with a hint of Gin and Ginger Ale, then becomes clean and bitter. I find that the gentian root is a welcome note with many gins, especially prolonging the finish or adding balance to some loud contemporary style gins.
It’s an ideal pairing for herbal, floral or spice forward gins.
Overall, Top Note Indian Tonic Water
Contemporary style gins have exploded and changed the gin market in the last ten years. And we finally have our contemporary style tonic water.
Top Note Indian Tonic Water will challenge your conventions of what tonic water can be. If you are a vodka and tonic drinker— this is the perfect way to add complexity and upgrade your drink. With gin, I suggest considering the flavor. Like tonic syrups, Top Note can overpower the wrong pairing.
Overall, it’s a delicious tonic water that may be the beacon of a new wave of creativity in what we mix with our spirits— and what tonic waters can be.