Craft Clubs News

Just the Tonic: How BTW is reinventing mixers

by Lucinda - Sep 12, 2017

Sick of every G&T tasting the same? Let BTW Tonic – specially crafted by bartenders to bring out the best in your gin – help you make a mixed drink like no other. Read their feature from September 2017 edition of Ginned! Magazine.

For Nick Crispini and Lawrence Mason, gin is more than their tipple of choice. At first, it was a passion – and now, it’s their job.

Nick and Lawrence are a restaurateur and bartender, respectively. While they were hard at work building the gin list for their new gin bar, 214 Bermondsey, they discovered something strange: no matter how unique the gins they tried, the moment tonic touched them, something changed.

As Lawrence says, “When we opened the bar, the gins we were drinking were the best of the best, and on their own they were really unique. But when we mixed them with tonic, it squashed all of the subtlety and individuality of the gin.”

With a gin list stocked with 100 of the best gins on the market to show off, Nick and Lawrence decided to make their own tonic. They wanted something that would make the gins behind their bar shine.

“We wanted to make something that was simple and stripped back,” Lawrence says. “BTW – Bermondsey Tonic Water – was born of us wanting a better tonic for our bar.”

Inspired by a classic Victorian recipe, Lawrence and Nick started with quinine, the cornerstone of commercial tonic waters. While commonly used quinine extract is cheaper and easier to use, Lawrence and Nick sourced raw, natural quinine to get the purest flavour, with a gorgeous caramel colour as a happy by-product. “Using raw, natural quinine makes the bitterness and sweetness a lot softer and gives the tonic the golden colour,” Lawrence says.

But where many tonics layer botanical flavours on top of the quinine, usually to enhance the similar botanicals in the gin they’re paired with, Nick and Lawrence kept it simple, leaving their raw quinine to take centre stage.

They made their unique recipe into a syrup, which their staff could then carbonate using soda water. As a syrup, the strength could be adjusted for every palate and individual serve, allowing the bartenders at 214 Bermondsey to make their patrons truly bespoke G&Ts. But they didn’t keep BTW Tonic a house secret; instead they bottled the syrup and made it available to home mixologists eager to experiment at home.

“We wanted real experts to be able to make tonic to taste,” Lawrence says. “What’s nice about the syrup is you can add just a touch or you can double up – it’s a perfect balancing act.”

But for those of us who are happy to let the experts do the balancing for us, there’s the lovely bottle of BTW in your September Gin of the Month box. This mixer is perfectly calibrated to make gins shine – and all you need to do is add your favourite gin and enjoy.

“What BTW does is let the gin come through,” Lawrence says. “The gin doesn’t have anywhere to hide; it will really shine through.”

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