I have tried a few various tonic syrups in this new era of home-made potions, but I've always gone back to Fever Tree or other pre-bottled tonic waters in the end. Many of the syrups I've tried completely changed the flavor of my gin and tonic into something wildly different—not necessarily bad, but not at all what I was looking for. I wasn't really interested in trying newer versions until my friend Jennifer Colliau recently added one to her Small Hand Foods collection. For the record, if Jen makes something—be it a cocktail, or the ingredients for a cocktail—you can count on it tasting good. I've sat at the Slanted Door counter enough times, drinking myself into oblivion while she tested new concoctions on me and my wife—us moaning and groaning with pleasure, while Jen innocently asked, "Is that good?"
So this past weekend I took home a bottle of her new tonic syrup and followed the instructions on the label: add one half ounce to soda water; with some gin, of course. The result? A classic G&T flavor with the concentration turned up just a bit. The quinine is there, front and center, but the touch of sweetness and accent of spice is lovely. I'm a new convert. After vowing never again to stray from bottled tonic water, now I don't see myself ever going back.
The SHF tonic syrup is a must-have product for the home bartender (but, really, all of her syrups are).