From Melbourne comes another great example of the spirit of collaboration here in the world’s cocktail capital.
Regular readers will be familiar with my survey last year of some of readily available Tonic waters in Australia, and a quick history of how it came to be developed for medical reasons in the support of colonialism by the French + British et alia.
There is are some very good reasons why a Martini drinker should care about this key ingredient in a Gin + Tonic.
Come scorching summer season that we get in the antipodes it does get way too hot to enjoy a Martini in comfort… so that where a decent G+T comes into play. Also, as a drinker of quality gin, you’ll want to treat it with respect and ensure that the tonic is the same quality as the spirit.
So a little while back I was sent a sample bottle of Blood Moon tonic syrup that was being crowd funded via Pozible by Melbourne local Karolina Partyka. At the time of writing she had exceeded her target by well over 100% and will be releasing three versions: Traditional, Unsweetened and Native Botanicals. She developed the mixes with some input from local bars + friends at West Winds Gin.
When tonic water was first developed (see my post about this) it was first seen in this form, a cordial that was then diluted as it usually quite bitter as a result of its main ingredient Chincona bark (for the quinine). It was a medicine after all.
Mr Schweppes came along in the late Nineteenth Century and carbonated water was born and the rest is history….but back in the day if you were Bombay and lining up for anti-malarial dose each day, you got a big spoon of the brown stuff, with some limes for flavour.
So for those used to the clear tonic water you’ll need to shift gears when using this and get used to a coloured drink. Using it is pretty simple: you add soda or mineral water and voila, tonic water!
I was given the traditional version, and to quote Karolina “based on a centuries old recipe, the Traditional Cinchona Tonic Syrup uses real cinchona bark, citrus, herbs, spices, and a little floral touch to create an intriguing syrup.” I detected cinnamon and perhaps cloves in the mix and it has a lovely nose and isn’t bitter, quite neutral in sweetness too.
The advantage of a drink like this is that you can either have an intriguing and spicy (think of a light + chilled mulled wine) non-alcoholic drink, or add your dash of gin. I might experiment with it in a Martini perhaps too.
I opted for Tanqueray to see how a less flavoursome gin would work and you could still taste the spirit, it wasn’t lost in the mix. A straw poll among the guests whom I was testing it on at sundowners all gave it the thumbs up. So there.
Note, I would suggest an unsweetened soda like Fever Tree, not a generic commercial soda, or quality mineral water in order to let the subtle flavours come through.
I under the tonic syrups will be commercially available very soon in late 2014, so tune into them via the links below for more information.