Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum Forum Index Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum
Rum Appreciation by and for the Compleat Idiot
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Tonic Water: The new breed...

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum Forum Index -> Recipes and Mixers
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 1823
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:46 am    Post subject: Tonic Water: The new breed... Reply with quote

Gin and tonic is ubiquitous, or is it?


Over the past few months, Sue Sea and I have explored the other white spirit, gin. These included Gordon's (inexpensive), Beefeaters and Tanquerya (classic London Dry), and finally Vincent Van Gogh (an exceptional Holland style gin).

You see gins, like rums come in styles. London Dry style is classic, Plymouth style by law can be made only in Plymouth, England, and last the Holland style. Each uses different ingredients and methods and accordingly the flavor profiles differ.

So it is with tonic water.

Bar owners use "sweetening systems" stocked with nameless, cheap bulk tonic water. Then there are the grocery store quinine tonics made by Canada Dry or sold as generic brands. Perhaps the most appreciated is Schweppes Tonic Water, a bit more expensive. Of these, the Schweppes is considered a quality classic.


New tonics appear...

A recent article in the NY Times pointed out new "premium" tonics made by Stirrings ("triple-filtered") and Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water (..."flavored with Sicilian lemons, African marigolds and hand-pressed Tanzanian orange oil.".

A number of upscale mixologist have begun developing their own signature house-tonics in Portland, Atlanta, Washington and Manhattan - the last by Jim Meehan who uses lime and lemongrass. The latest boutique producer is a New York businessman who has produced a few hundred cases of something called Q-tonic.


Q-Tonic

Like all new boutique products you have to develop your own "unique selling proposition". Jordon Silbert of "Q" (for quinine, dummy) offers up his on the Q-tonic website. Historically, quinine is alleged to have appeared first as a fever fighter for the British troops in Peru, who - according to "Q" - developed the first G&T's for this, uh, purpose.

"Q" also points out the fact that common tonics use minimal quinine and lots of artificial sweeteners. The site even provides a handy, promotable chart selling "Q's" advantages in terms of calories, glycemic index, freedom from high fructose corn syrup and last, use of "all natural" ingredients. It's promoted as an all natural, low production custom kind of product.

His claims are rather extravagant:

Quote:
"Q": We’ve used the best ingredients we could find. We went to the slopes of the Peruvian Andes for hand-picked quinine and to the Mexican countryside for organic agave, a sweetener better than honey with a gently rounded sweetness. We meticulously refined our recipe with both food scientists and mixologists. Then we worked with one of New York City’s best design shops to develop a bottle as beautiful as the liquid it holds.

Q Tonic’s natural quinine is believed to improve circulation and accelerate digestion. For centuries natural Peruvian quinine has been used by naturalists and herbalists to improve health, increase energy, and stimulate blood flow.

We custom blend Q Tonic with all natural ingredients, including handpicked Cinchona bark grown in its native habitat, the slopes of the Peruvian Andes.


Apparently Silbert has hired Juan Valdez to hand strip the bark and bring it back by llama train. Whew! Naturally, I immediately ripped off an email asking "Q" whether they actually used the hand-picked bark and organic agave, or whether these were processed in situ and simply purchased pre-processed.

Of course its the latter.


The claims then fly...

According to the Times the basic ingredients in most tonics are sweeteners (artificial or HFCS), citric acid, quinine and carbonation. The new boyz fight over their improvements.

1. Their products contain additional ingredients like lime, lemongrass, marigolds and orange oil.

2. Stirrings claims their cane sugar provides for a "purer, cleaner taste", while "Q's" Silbert believes his agave nectar's profile better complements the quinine.

3. Fever Tree's Rolls promotes his "pharmaceutical grade" quinine from the Congo (which he claims is descended from the original Peruvian strains) as providing a "cleaner bitterness".

Ho hum. Would someone wake me up when this interquinine warfare has ceased?


The problem with all this is simple...

Gin and tonic is a classic and quite enjoyable drink. And regardless if the original was based on mountain grown Cinchona bark, modern G&T's have been made with relatively similar tonics containing relatively similar ingredients:

Citric acid, sweetener, quinine and carbonation. Schweppe's is the standard.

Thus tonic is the one predictable in the ubiqitous gin and tonic. It's the gin that varies. Not to mention that most gin drinkers have long established habits and tastes. Beefeaters and Schweppes with a lime is classic and common. People love "their" G&T's.

Tossing in even more flavors and variables really defeats the drink. Each "new" tonic really creates a new drink and is asking the G&T drinker to abandon his/her well-established drink to add new, expensive and unexpected elements. Ain't gonna happen. According to the Times the big producers have not reacted with their own lines.

They know better...
_________________


Go to Save Caribbean Rum Petition!


Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:31 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 1823
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:37 am    Post subject: Enter the Artic Wolf... Reply with quote

You knew it hadda happen...


Here's how it works. Send Wolfie a freebie and maybe you'll get another softball review. And so it was with Q-Tonic ...

Wolfboy dutifully made G&T's with four gins - Beefeater 24, Brokers, Citadelle Reserve and something called Port of Barcelona. None of these are market leaders and only Broker's is classic dry, but so it goes with freebies. Oh well. As the Wolf put it...
Quote:

"...I had four distinctive gins, each with their own unique flavour characteristics... My thought was that it would be fun to make some side by side cocktails with Q Tonic and Schweppes Tonic to see if I preferred one over the other consistently."


Agreed. He then compared Q Tonic with the classic standard Schweppes in a series of G&T's. This creates an issue best put by Mixologist Jim Meehan of Manhattan. Quoting the NY Times:

Quote:
Times: “Maybe Q Tonic tastes best with a citrusy gin like Plymouth, and a more floral tonic, like the one I make, tastes better with dry gins like Tanqueray and Beefeater,” Mr. Meehan said. He conceded that the concept of tonic specificity is “an advanced idea” that might take a while to catch on.


The point: gins differ in flavors, and so do the new specialty tonics. Thus, no one tonic could possibly do well with all gins, right? Not according to Wolfie:

Quote:
"...It was, to be completely frank, just plain tastier in every side by side cocktail tasting I conducted. I am not really sure why..."


What? That's it? Where are the descriptors, the distinctions? Where is the rationale? What about Meehan's "tonic specificity" (one tonic, one gin)? Nope, none of these and like his prophet, The Preacher, "it's all good". Of course.


"Q" this (grabbing crotch)!

Just as a joke I sent an email to "Q" asking them why they named it, uh, "Q"? What's that? It's for "quinine"? Actually I think it's for "Qualude", which would account for W's preference. Or maybe "Quackery" for their amazing, world class medical implications...


*******
Capn's Note: Unlike single malts, tequila and whisky (especially bourbon) gins are flavored by definition and vary much more widely in profile. This is exactly why tonics have not and until recently have been very, very similar.

It's all about the gin and its finesse.

To add a notably different tonic, with marigold, orange, lemongrass, lime et al simply messes with your gin. And beyond that, ask yourself this: is it even remotely possible that a modified tonic - with its own specific profile - is it possible this flavored tonic will match up will all the differently profiled, different style gins? Survey sez...

No fuckin way. Any reviewer who disagrees, and holds that Q Tonic makes all G&T's better is into flavored tonic, not gin. And even that strains credulity!

_________________


Go to Save Caribbean Rum Petition!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 1823
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:10 am    Post subject: Q Tonic Deconstructed... Reply with quote

Q Tonic Deconstructed...


Just for fun I sent "Q Tonic" two emails - one anonymous and funny, and one asking serious questions. First the funny...

Quote:
Anon: "Question: I may be stupid, but what does the Q stand for on your Q Tonic and Q Ginger?"


A softball. Naturally I received an honest and complete answer:

Quote:
Q: "Hi, The Q is for quinine – which is what makes tonic what it is. Q Tonic was our first product and now the Q has become our brand."

Cheers!
Jenn


At the same time I raised the bar and asked a question designed to disturb their marketing story...
Quote:

Moi:
Recently read about your new Q-tonic, and visited your website.

Apparently you are using what you call natural ingredients, including "hand-picked quinine" (hand-picked Chichona bark) from Peru and Mexican organic agave.

Do you buy and process the actual bark and agave? If so how is this accomplished? Or is the bark and agave already processed into quinine and sweetener in those countries, and then purchased and used by you?

Cordially,
Capn Jimbo


Not surprisingly they sat on this one as their PR gurrl had to consult with her client to release any information that might compromise their romantic backstory. In a case like this PR reps have a couple of options. The first and usual response is to simply ignore the request. The second and honest one is to respond accurately and in detail. But many reps choose the third - friendly evasion...
Quote:

Q: "Capn Jimbo,

Thanks for your email. And that is what makes up our special sauce secret recipe! Rest assured though that we do use real quinine from real trees and organic agave to give our customers the best products possible."

Cheers!
Jenn


My interpretation (and yours too I'd guess) - we buy our quinine and agave sugar in finished form. As close as we get to the forest is our purchasing agent barking in price negotiations...
_________________


Go to Save Caribbean Rum Petition!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum Forum Index -> Recipes and Mixers All times are GMT - 9 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group