If the various pandemic lockdowns has showed us something, it was the power of enforced creativity. Folks with plenty of smarts, energy and time on their hands, plus a little bit of economic necessity have came up with all sorts of things we never knew we needed, until we did.
So some months back, during such a period, the team of new Sydney based company The Cure Tonics asked me to have a look at their range, and whilst it has taken me way longer than I hoped to do so, being the sort of year that 2021 has been, I’m very pleased to introduce the range to you finally, just in time for the Australian Summer.
Long term readers will recall one of my first articles was on the evolution of the Tonic syrup from it’s early medicinal roots, to the both large commercial and small batch manufacturers making it even harder to decide on the right gin+tonic combination given the thousands of permutations to choose from now. But here we have an idea that puts the Tonic Syrup centre stage, not as an understudy.
Q+ A with the one of Cure Tonics Team, Christopher Landenberger
How does one end up in the Tonic business?
During the first Greater Sydney Lockdown I found myself returning from a brief vacation without my bartending job to go back to.
After several weeks of an involuntary extended vacation I found myself bored stiff and in a financial disadvantaged position.
The idea came to me when I felt like a gin and Tonic but not having any tonic. Having already bought a Sodastream I tested their range of cordials and wasn’t satisfied with their artificial taste.
I began trialing different recipes which eventually led to the creation of our Old Fashioned Tonic Syrups. After selling our first 25 bottles through Australian Gin Appreciation Society Facebook page we received an overwhelming support from its members as well as an enquiry from Mind Spirits which has since become our distributor for retailers around Australia.
What is some of the inspiration behind the range?
Australia has a unique climate that allows us to grow a huge range of both botanicals and citrus fruits. We wanted our range to take full advantage of the produce we can source locally.
- Old Fashioned Tonic Syrup is full of that classic big and bold bitterness.
- Aussie Bush Tonic Syrup embraces the exciting range of botanicals native to Australia with a bitter sweet profile.
- Mediterranean Tonic Syrup offers a refreshing and floral bitterness.
- Ginger Syrup is full of fiery spice using fresh ginger with the addition of chilli and the freshness of lemongrass.
- White Grapefruit and Rosemary clean with fresh citrus balanced by the aromatics.
- Hopped Lemonade Syrup out revamped to on a classic home style lemonade.
Do you take a sustainable or environmentally friendly approach to their production?
We’re committed to making our product as sustainable as possible. Naturally using a syrup and carbonation your water at home will reduce the waste of glass bottles. One 500mL bottle makes 5 litres of tonic water. We also carbon offset the energy used to power our boilers as well as using boxes made from recycled cardboard for our packaging.
How do you recommend people enjoy the tonics?
We recommend mixing 20ml of our syrup with 200mL of soda for a full flavoured mixer this ratio can be varied to suit personal preference.
Any storage tips for the tonics?
As we don’t add preservatives to our natural tonics we recommend refrigerating themonce opened and consuming within 3 months.
What’s your favourite combination to sip?
Currently I’m enjoying our limited release White Grapefruit and Rosemary Tonic with Archie Rose Opera House Outside gin. They share White grapefruit as a common botanical making this a great pairing.
Tasting Notes (with soda, 1:10 ratio): Batch #001 + #004
- Aussie Bush Tonic Syrup: featuring finger limes and strawberry gum, this is all round delicious I must say, being the last in order when I tasted the range. A little sweeter than the others, with a lovely rounded palette, this is your crowd pleaser I reckon. Lots of fresh cirtrus vibes and would lend itself to an Australian gin with lots of native botanicals in the mix I think.
- Hopped Lemonade Syrup: an interesting idea with this one with Australian hops, Cane Sugar, lemon juice, so it’s not sickly sweet or too lemony as it were, the hops and citrus balance each other out, and overall its quite subtle.
- Lemongrass, Chilli and Ginger Syrup: as advertised on the bottle: ginger on the nose, and forward on the palette, lemongrass in the middle with the chilli making a polite presence known at the end.
- Mediterranean Tonic Syrup: featuring some “Mediterranean herbs”, grapefruit and orange among other ingredients, this has a darker hue than the others and has a slightly darker golden hue than the others in the range, and more intense flavours, with some pleasant bitterness of the cinchona bark making it’s presence felt, crisp finish, but not astringent. I think this would work well with a premium dry ginger ale actually too.
- Old Fashioned Tonic Syrup: now, don’t get carried away and think Old Fashioned cocktail, this recipe evokes one of the original styles of the syrup which was dispensed like medicine to prevent Malaria by including cinchona bark (normally this results in a very bitter experience). The ingredients include the cinchona bark, lemongrass, lime, lemon plus some lemon myrtle leaf, with the ingredients by steeping to extract as much flavour as possible gently. This drink is rather refined, with no hint of bitterness, rather a fresh finish with the citrus and hints of the lemon myrtle too at the back of the palette.
- White Grapefruit and Rosemary: pale gold in the glass, and a crisp citrus flavour, but not sweet, dry finish. Quite elegant and subtle actually, and I’d recommend the lovely soda from Strangelove to go with with.
The Take Home
This is a fresh take on an old idea, with some really delicious flavours to explore in the range. A little goes a long way, in that you don’t need a lot of the syrup (I found a 1:10 ration of syrup to a soda worked fine) and you also have to allow for the flavours of a gin (or vodka) if you’re adding those too. So I recommend tasting the syrups first on their own and getting a feel for them in the first instance, then make yourself at home.
In terms of garnish, I’d let the main flavours in the syrup be your guide, so a spring of rosemary or grapefruit peel would be ideal in the White Grapefruit and Rosemary version. I’d also recommend dried garnishes too, so that the syrups can be the hero of the drink, and not get dominated over by the garnish.
One thing to note if you’re not used to this style of syrup, they will lend a pleasant colour to your drink, so if you’re aiming for a classic G+T, just recalls you’ll get a lovely golden blush to your drink with this range.
They all present a delicious natural flavour profile, very minimal use of sugar, and preservative free, also suitable for Vegans. There is an attractive rounded mouthfeel too, the palette gets a full spectrum of flavours in reach version. If you’re a non-drinker, then they offer a great summer sipping experience that makes you feel you’re missing out on anything.
I think these offer very good value for money, and are well designed from a flavour profile and diversity of range perspective. I’d challenge you not to fine one or more of the range to your taste and rather enjoyed the way the ingredients are balanced and still have a natural expression on the palette. They could also be the basis of a great summer punch too I think.
So, time in lockdown was well spent for the team at The Cure. Now it’s time to enjoy the lovely natural flavours of Australia in a reminded Tonic experience.
- Website: thecuretonics.com
- RRP: AUD $25 each including shipping or 3 bottles for $60
- @thecuretonics for both Facebook and Instagram
Disclaimer: this review is of unsolicited samples provided by the makers, opinions expressed regarding the product are my own.