Just the tonic

Photography: David Wheeler

There's no shortage of options at the bar for gin - but what about the tonic?

In the beginning, there was the gin revolution, and then fancy gins begat ultra-premium vodkas. Then came newfound interest in bitters, and smaller-batch vermouths. Tonics are now the latest thing under the microscope. There are a couple of alternatives to the big brands on the market (the excellent Quina Fina from New Zealand among them), but for even finer control, there are tonic syrups. Only Bitters, a Melbourne-based online store, now stocks quite a number of these syrups. The routine is simple, says Only Bitters founder John Dimitropoulos: one part tonic syrup, two parts gin (or vodka), to three parts soda. "What we really love is that they allow for total flavour control and cater for tastes from very bitter to quite sweet." From left: C&B's Old Fashioned Quinine ($14.95/240ml), Tomr's Tonic ($14.95/200ml), El Guapo Tonic Syrup ($29.95/750ml), 5 by 5 Tonic Syrup ($17.95/237ml), John's Premium Tonic Syrup ($14.95/$118ml), Liber & Co Spiced Tonic Syrup ($16.95/237ml), C&B's Old Fashioned Quinine (120ml; only available in 240ml), Jack Rudy Cocktail Co Small Batch Tonic ($19.95/503ml), Bradley's Kina Tonic Syrup ($15.95/237ml). 

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