A little while back Hella Bitters sent me a bottle of their Original Tonic Syrup. Nine times out of ten if you ask people what drink has tonic in it, they’ll tell you Gin & Tonic. Ask them what tonic is and they’ll likely tell you “tonic water” or just point to a bottle soda water. But actual tonic syrup is a lot more complex and has been making a comeback amongst cocktail enthusiasts and craft ingredient companies.
There are many dozens of recipes for tonic but most will contain some sort of citrus, a bittering agent [like in bitters], and a combination of herbs and or botanicals. Hella Bitters Original Tonic Syrup contains citrus peel, lemon grass, cinchona bark [the bittering agent], plus their own special blend of spices. Outside of being delicious, tonic is great for soothing an upset stomach, which I currently happen to have. To help soothe my aching belly I made myself a Whiskey Tonic, the oft forgotten cousin of the Gin & Tonic:
- 1.5oz Bulleit Bourbon
- 4oz Hella Bitters Original Tonic Syrup
- 1.5oz Soda Water
Combine all three ingredients over ice in a rocks glass, give it a stir, and garnish with a lemon or lime wedge. It’s simple, and citrusy, a bit bitter, and the tonic doesn’t totally overwhelm the whiskey spice though it does mute much of the burn. If you’re not a fan of the tartness of a whiskey sour then a Whiskey Tonic might just be for you. It’s much smoother but still maintains a bit of sweetness. Depending on your tastes you may want to up the whiskey half an ounce to give it a bit more of that desired burn though. Personally I would even go so far as to add a dash of a spicy bitters or tincture, but then again I generally lean in that direction.