I love how cocktail menus now change like food menus, with the seasons or when a specific alcohol is becoming popular.
There are a few basic principles to concocting new cocktails. Very similar to food we know that certain flavours together make the perfect companions – salty and sweet, or sweet and sour; and we also know that we need a good balance of flavours with no one flavour overpowering another but we also need the ingredients to be elevated and taken to the next level.
Most cocktail recipes combine three main ingredients: alcohol, something sour and something sweet. The magic formula is 2:1:1 – that’s 2 parts alcohol, 1 part sour, and 1 part sweet. But that’s not the hard and fast rule. Cocktails can be anything you want them to be.
But if you are like me and just prefer to drink cocktails then you’ll want to visit a fabulous Cocktail Bar in the heart of Edinburgh City Centre – Tonic. I popped along to sample their new cocktail menu and was in for a treat!
Loosely themed on Children’s storybooks and characters, the menu is meant to take you on a trip down the rabbit hole into the land of childhood nostalgia. You’ll see nods to Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dumbo and many more.
The menu is broken down into six sections of cocktails namely – Vodka, Gin, Rum, Whisky, Tequila and the Classics. This definitely helps choosing the cocktails as you can instantly find the page of cocktails made with your chosen base alcohol.
The Pornstar Martini is clearly the favourite and highlighted on the Classics page but the one that caught our eye was the Starburst Martini. Barman, Connor explained that this cocktail is one of the most Instagrammable cocktails they do, and we can see why.
It’s called a Starburst Martini due to it tasting like Starburst candy sweets; and it really does. It’s quite sweet but not sickly. The cocktail is made with Orange infused Ketel One, Briottet Creme de Cassis de Dijon, apple juice, lemon juice, egg white, raspberry sugar syrup topped with their famous strawberry swirls.
Up next my cocktail partner and I flipped the pages over to the Vodka based cocktails. I chose this merely for the name – the Scrumdiddlyumptious cocktail and Lotte had the Lemony Snicket.
I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that this cocktail is the Scrumdiddlyumptious as you would think that Lemony Snicket might be yellow in hue??? Wrong. It’s the other way around and something neither of us were expecting.
This peachy pink quite fizzy cocktail with basil leaf is the Lemony Snicket. It’s made with Basil infused Ketel One vodka, a scoop of lemon sorbet, strawberry puree, vanilla sugar syrup shaken and topped up with prosecco. It’s a very fresh cocktail, not sweet and the bubbles from the prosecco give it a little lift. The basil pegged onto the glass is a nice touch – bruise the basil leaf a little and as you drink it releases its aroma. I think this would be perfect on a warm Summer evening.
My choice, the Scrumdiddlyumptious cocktail. Isn’t it delightful! It transported me back to being a kid at Christmas. The aromas and tastes you’ll pick up are warm toasted marshmallows, even a hint of warm ginger and nutmeg (although I think that was more the memories kicking as there is no ginger or nutmeg in this) and hot chocolate. Of course the hundreds and thousands just naturally appeal to your inner child.
This is made from chocolate milk washed Crystal Head vodka (they’ve mixed chocolate milk into vodka and left it to do its thing), Marshmallow infused Briottet Cacao Blanc, chocolate bitters, egg white and garnished with hundreds and thousands.
Cocktail number three and we were both fairly happy. I remained on the Vodka page and chose barman Connor’s entry into the cocktail bible, the Red Sky at Night and Lotte skipped over to the Rum page and went for the I Open at the Close. I usually have Rum based cocktails but was super happy staying with the Vodka ones.
Connor explained to us that his cocktails are all very fruity based. Another one own his own cocktails that you’ll find on the menu is the Green Eggs and Damn using Gin and Midori Melon Liqueur.
The Red Sky at Night was chosen as it uses one of my favourite fruits, the lychee. First sip and the lychee flavour hits you, it’s quite sweet, but then use the stirrer to waken up the grenadine that has settled at the bottom of the glass and the red syrup starts to swirl and mix with the lychee flavours, removing the sweet edge and replacing it with a slight tart bite at the end of each sip.
This cocktail contains Grey Goose Vodka, Briottet liqueur de Litchi, fresh lychee juice, lime juice and grenadine.
The last cocktail was a hypnotic surprise called I Open at the Close. Ron Zacapa 23 year old rum, Koko Kanu, Briottet liqueur de Litchi, and plum sugar syrup made with golden flakes. This cocktail contained gold glitter! It seemed to slowly swirl and constantly move. You could stare at it for hours. You could taste the chocolate flavours coming from the Ron Zacapa rum and the coconut from the Koko Kanu. Very drinkable.
Neither of us had a favourite as they are all so different, quirky and utterly gorgeous.
Looking back through their menu, I know I need to return to try:
Vodka – This One is Just Right. A salted caramel cocktail.
Gin- Straight on Until Morning. A rose, pineapple and coconut flavour combo.
Rum – Stuck in the Mud. Kahlua, vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.
Whisky – Johnnie and the Giant Apricot. Flavours of orange and apricot.
Tequila – The Infamous Tony C’s Margarita. Passionfruit based with a salt and pepper rim.
Classic – Aviation. Just cause it has cherries in it!
Tonic is a really great cocktail bar. The staff are super friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable. They really know their stuff here! Fabulous cocktails!
Tonic, 34a North Castle Street, Edinburgh. Tel : 0131 2256431 www.bar-tonic.co.uk
My Spoon Award : Tartan. 10/10