Gin & Tonic are synonymous. Sure, they don’t suit everyone, but ever since some clever bunny (nobody knows who) decided that their anti-malaria medicine (made from chinchona bark) tasted better with fizzy water, sugar and citrus (and eventually added a splash of gin), we’ve not really looked back. I mean even the name has stuck – it was medicine, a tonic, if you will.
Things have changed a lot. In the past it would be a do it yourself job. Syrup or paste, mix it together with fizzy water, and add gin and garnish of choice (maybe even Angostura Bitters for a ‘perfect G&T’ after all, that started life as a medicine too). And at current commercial strengths of tonic you’d have to consume somewhere in the region of 35 G&Ts to reach the strength of that taken in the British Colonies.
So a few things have changed, including our insistence on colonising places that don’t belong to us, but the revival of gin has also sparked a revival in tonics. We’ve gone from those distinctive yellow bottles and a supermarket own or two, to somewhere in the region of 500 tonics/tonic syrups. And the latter has also seen a resurgence. Meaning you can adapt your G&T to really become your G&T. Not a fan of traditional tonics because they’re too strong? Try a syrup and just add a tiny bit to keep it soft.
The latest to reach my kitchen shelf is one from 3/4oz. Two friends, Alexandrine Lemaire and Hannah Palmer, a designer and a photographer, they have five different products in all. A Honey Sour Syrup, a Cola Syrup, a Ginger Ale Syrup and two products I had to try, a Spritz Syrup and a Tonic Syrup.
So let’s start with the Tonic Syrup.
Unlike a lot of products, this uses traditional chinchona bark, one of the reasons it has a tea colour (just as you find with Bermondsey Tonic Water). As with any other syrup, you add sparkling water, to create a tonic – the recommended amount being:
3/4 oz. of tonic syrup
1 1/4 oz. of your favorite gin
2-3 oz. of sparkling water
The flavour profile is very different from a traditional mixer. It’s sweeter, stronger (unless of course you go lighter in the amount of tonic you use) and dryer. And the dryness is different. It’s more of a gentle tannin led dryness, like you’d get from tea, than the often sharper notes from a bottled tonic. It’s also not as sharply bitter, another reason it’s something to look into if you’re not a fan of commercial tonics.
The Spritz Syrup offered me the opportunity to use up some of an open bottle of Prosecco I had from a previous review.
Much like the tonic counterpart, the syrup is diluted to taste, but the standard recipe is:
1 part of Spritz Syrup
2-3 parts of sparkling wine
1 part sparkling water
The syrup reminds me a little of Aperol, without the alcohol (perfect if you’re cutting back). There’s a soft orange bitterness about it, and I could easily imagine popping it into a big jug, with lots of ice and fruit for something soft and summery with the barbecue. It would also lend itself beautifully to a non-alcoholic spritz, especially with the plethora of low and non-alcholic fizzes available. A non-boozy Aperol-Spritz if you will.
For me, both are great, and I especially love choice when it comes to my G&Ts. This tonic syrup in it’s standard recipe would stand up better to a London Dry Gin (something juniper forward and traditional style). Something soft wouldn’t cope with the strength, without playing around with the dilution.
Meantime, I’m wondering if I can use the syrup in a recipe. I am baking this weekend. So…. Watch this space!