The Evolution of Tonic Water
In the quest to make better cocktails, today's bartenders rethink each ingredient in a drink and try to improve it -- from the cheap, mass-produced version, to a higher-quality version, to the artisan version, to the locally made artisan version, and finally to the homemade version.
We've seen this with spirits (from Tanqueray to 209 Gin) and juices (from bottled juice to locally grown fruit). But until a few years ago, nobody had given too much thought to tonic water.
This bitter, sweetened, carbonated quinine-based beverage is an odd mixer. Unlike soda it's rarely consumed alone, and unlike juices and seltzer water it's rarely an ingredient in more complex cocktail recipes. Most of the time, tonic is served only with gin or vodka and a wedge of lemon or lime as garnish.
In the average bar, tonic comes spitting out of the "gun," the squirter that mixes flavored syrup with seltzer water as it shoots into your glass. But now many venues pour boutique-brand tonic and other sodas from bottles. One venue even makes it in-house.
Finally my tonic water story came out in today's SF Chronicle: