This tonic 'cordial' will change the way you make G&Ts
Andrea Burgener's discovered a delicious way to make a less sugary gin cocktail
Tonic water and Coca-Cola have two things in common. They're both soft drinks which were first used as medicines and they both contain a whole bunch of sugar.
If you're talking major brand, common-or-garden tonic water, it may contain only a few grams less sugar per 100ml than Coke, or in some cases just as much.
Even if you don't care about sugar from a diabetes or weight point of view, the problem with the increasingly high sugar content is that it spoils the drink. It overrides the lovely bitterness of the quinine, the acidic tang of the tonic and any subtle notes in the gin. You have to start pouring in so many gallons of lemon juice and bitters, that in the end there's little point in buying a good gin.
That's a great pity, with so many great ones around these days.
Forget the rest: the mixer you should absolutely have with a great gin, is one of Symmetry's Botanical Tonics.
From the Geometric Drinks Company in the Cape, these tonics are sold in concentrated form, as a sort of cordial, so one beautiful glass bottle will provide for at least 10 drinks.
They are glorious, even addictive. And once diluted with soda water or sparkling mineral water, they're giving you about a quarter of the sugar present in a ''normal" tonic.
The citrus tonic, laced with buchu, and the floral tonic, fragrant with pelargonium, are for me the best. The spice tonic is just one step too bitter for my taste.
Symmetry's tonic cordials are so delicious that gin isn't even required. They make an incredible virgin cocktail with only ice, soda water and an appropriate fruit or herb thrown into the glass. They are available from high-end bottle stores and food stores.
Perhaps the most famous bitter bar standby is Campari. Again, it's deceptively high in sugar, to combat all the bitterness, and also boasts much colourant: up until around 2006 the brilliant-red colour came from crushing the shells of cochineal beetles, but now the colour comes from other weird stuff, such as coal and petroleum by-products. Beetle or coal, it's also undeniably satisfying.
Here's a glorious alternative to that famous cocktail: the Negroni Sbagliato, or ''wrong" Negroni, that is actually so very right. It contains Prosecco or other sparkling wine.
You simply fill a tumbler with ice, throw in equal amounts of Campari, sweet vermouth and prosecco, and add a thick orange slice. The perfect summer cocktail.
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