In the realm of adult soft drinks, richly red Sin-kō-nah Tonic Syrup [RRP: $24/200ml] is right up there, and what’s more, it’s Australian. In fact, owner Sarah Robins tells me, Sin-kō-nah “will soon be the only Australian-made tonic syrup as Blood Moon Tonic is closing down.”*
Expect a bittersweet edge from this drink, which contains about a third less sugar than other tonic waters. The flavour comes from cinchona bark (the natural source of quinine) mixed with locally grown citrus and juniper. It’s great as a stand-alone drink lengthened with sparkling water, but it’s even better in a classic gin and tonic. When it comes to matching your gin, you do have to be wary of herbaceous gins in case the botanicals clash. Keeping the Australian focus, Sarah suggested it's “fantastic with Loch Gin - they are small artisan distillers in Gippsland, represented by the Nip of Courage folk.” I tried mine with Bombay Sapphire gin in a side-by-side comparison with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic, and preferred the Sin-kō-nah by far.
While we’re talking Bombay Sapphire, they’re partnering with Biota Dining from 18 November – 5 December on Project Botanicals – a paired cocktail and dining experience focusing upon the botanicals contained in the gin. For $105/head you’ll receive a five-course menu matched to five Bombay Sapphire cocktails. My interest was most piqued by James Viles’ angelica root dish combining soured crème made from local milks and the freshest green peas matched to an angelica celery sour. Book fast, it’s sure to sell out.
*Edit 27/10/15: Sarah contacted me today to say: "We've since heard of McPhail's tonic, they're onto batch no 3 apparently!"