Tonic is Having a Moment...this time with Coffee

Tonic water had been around for several generations before 2020, when the pandemic flipped our lives upside down. Some may recall tonic Water had a big resurgence of interest when a viral video stating that tonic water can be used as a means to help off-set the risk of Covid-19 set off a buying frenzy. This turned out to be an unfounded claim.

Yet since the pandemic, non-alcoholic drinking has been on a new resurgence, and for that reason, tonic water is too coming back into focus. However, this time, it is not just at places serving gin.

Instead, we see tonic, and mixers in general, being pulled into modern and even traditional espresso cafes, as baristas take to the evolving idea of coffee cocktails. This has been a slow moving train ready  to pick up speed though. Coffee houses have been playing with tonic water for nearly 20 years now. The trend started in Sweden, from one cafe that made the drink their signature back in the '00s. 

Blame the espresso martini, and general love for coffee, for coffee mixology to gain full speed, and jump from cafes to bars and back to cafes (are the trying to one up one another?). However, with coffee cocktails and mixology continuing to trend in bars, restaurants and coffee houses across the country (more than half of North America’s 50 Best Bars have coffee cocktails on their signature menus), the interest in espresso-infused drinks is now higher in cafe's than ever before, where the coffee knowledge is the deepest. From matcha tonic to coffee cola and everything in between, Top Note has been receiving requests to add their premium sparkling mixers to menus across the country, and even in Canada. (It helps to have one of the more unique tonic waters in the market for mixing with Coffee, our Indian Tonic Water.) Some of our favorite's are local haunts, like Milwaukee’s Vendetta, Likewise and Discourse coffee. Coffee Wizardz in Appleton (Mid-State Wisconsin) is really adding twists like co-fermenting coffee with hops, and then blending in a drink.  We are seeing establishments continue to push the boundaries of non-alcoholic coffee-based beverages to meet Millennial and Gen Z demand for high-quality mixers and soft drinks to complement their unique creations. 

All of this boom has given us pause to reflect on how far tonic water has come.  Tonic was one of the earliest "medicines" incorporated into an alcoholic drink, its history tracing back to the tinctures issued to British soldiers back in WWI. These tinctures contained natural quinine and served as a means to protect them from the effects of malaria. To tone down the bitter taste, soldiers mixed the quinine tinctures with gin. Americans came to love tonic water during WWII, and those once stationed in England brought back that thirst to the States. The tonic water of the 1950's and '60s came to be known as an infamously bitter drink, but because of the heavy level of sweeteners, consumers came to enjoy it best with vodka and - you guessed it - gin. 

Since then, the industry has continued to evolve and innovate, placing a newfound importance on the tonic as an equally important component in the success of the Gin & Tonic, Vodka Tonic, and other simple highballs, mixed drinks and spirit-free cocktails , and the espresso tonic in cafes. 

Top Note founders Mary Pellettieri and Noah Swanson appreciate the botanical past of this fascinating beverage and the respect for flavor and balance held by their discerning customers. Top Note Classic Tonic Water is the only tonic water  to ever win a double gold medal at the challenging San Francisco Tasting Alliance, and their Indian Tonic Water won a sofi Award from the Specialty Food Association right out of the gate. 

Further reading on tonic water and tonic-based drink recipes:

Please reach out to us with any questions regarding our products, distributors near you or how to serve Top Note Sparkling Mixers in your bar. We’re your biggest fans!

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