TIPS AND TRICKS FOR PUTTING THE OMG IN YOUR T
Although its early use was more medicinal in nature, tonic water (or simply tonic outside the doctor’s office) has become synonymous with gin, like Ginger was to Fred, Sting to the Police, and George Michael to that other guy – the one from Wham! not the one from… you get the picture. Nowadays, though, there are almost as many types of tonic out there as there are vinaigrettes. There’s Indian tonic, pink tonic, blue, Eastern Highlands sparkling tonic, not to mention a host of different flavoured tonics. So, with all this variety to choose from, how do you know you’re getting the most out of your restorative cocktail?
When choosing a tonic, Caitlin Hill – industry professional and mixology maestro with Rémy Cointreau in South Africa – looks at two things: ingredients and carbonation. “For me, it’s natural all the way,” she says, “I don’t work with tonics that contain any chemically engineered quinine. The same goes for flavourants; they have to be natural. I do get why so many brands use artificial ingredients, it’s the only way to ensure consistency, but it’s just not for me.” Carbonation, on the other hand, is not something you can gauge from a back label. It’s a process of trial and error. “You have to test to see which brand you prefer,” says Caitlin. “How fizzy a tonic is, especially over ice, is really important to me, because when you’re making a lot of drinks, you don’t have time to wait for the fizz to mellow.”
MAKING UP YOUR MIND
So, what does Caitlin go for when choosing a tonic? “There are only three types of tonic you really need to consider for cocktail mixers,” says Caitlin, “standard Indian tonic, a lighter option (less sugar), and flavoured tonic.” Trouble making up your mind? You might be tempted to think more is more, but Caitlin cautions, “Having too many tonics means you’re stuck when you run out of one kind.” Say you run out of pink tonic, and it’s a clear favourite… Unless you have a dedicated tonic fridge (Look at you!), you won’t be able to chill the depleted tonic fast enough when you have to restock the fridge. Plus, nobody likes a warm tonic. “Cocktails are generally your welcoming drinks, so don’t overdo it,” says Caitlin. “Decide what one drink you’re going to be serving and stick to it.”