I love a gin and tonic. There are few cocktails whose spirit and mixer come together so seamlessly to produce a greater sum. Most places use good ole Canada Dry as the “T” in the G&T. Not bad. At home, I most often use Fever-Tree, which suits me to a T. Roughly, Fever-Tree is to Canada Dry as Plymouth Gin is to Beefeater Gin. Elevated, refined, both intense and balanced at once. But now, though, there’s a Southern artisan tonic that will be pushing aside the Fever-Tree in my cabinet. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., out of Charleston, South Carolina, has introduced a small batch concentrated tonic syrup that merits inclusion in any bar, north or south. It’s not easy to find – in Atlanta, Star Provisions got some in recently – but you can order directly from the Jack Rudy website.
What you’ll notice is that the Jack Rudy tonic is not carbonated – it is a syrup built from cane sugar, orange peel, lemongrass and quinine. You get to control its strength by the amount of club soda you add in to your cocktail, which is a delightful freedom for cocktail tinkerers everywhere. I recently received a bottle of the Jack Rudy tonic and have been playing with gin and tonics, as well as drinking it simply mixed with club soda to better gauge the flavor profile. Compared to Fever-Tree, the Jack Rudy mixed with club soda has more body, more of a grassy herbal quality, and an almost gingery depth. Fever-Tree is more bracing, a bit more clean, though with a quinine bite that is assertive. For drinking by itself (why oh why would one do this when gin is close at hand?), I actually prefer the Fever-Tree; but once gin enters the equation….
In a Plymouth gin and tonic, the Jack Rudy really comes alive. Gin and tonic do go together so nicely, and Jack Rudy’s flavor profile and body simply works wonders in this combination. Somehow, the Jack Rudy produces a cleaner G&T than the Fever-Tree, a more exotic layering of citrus and herbs and sweetness. And what does “clean” mean? That’s a tough one… to me it represents a middle ground between sharp and smooth, a clarity of flavor. With the Fever-Tree G&T, the citrus notes, both lemon and lime, come prominently to the forefront, and there is both a definitive sweetness AND a more pronounced quinine bite than in the Jack Rudy G&T. Great drinks both, and fascinating to contrast them, but the Jack Rudy takes the lead.
Oh, and here’s the recipe for a “proper gin and Rudy” if you were wondering:
Enjoy, and check out some other recipes that make great use of this artisan cocktail tonic.