Next Level Coffee Tonic



The coffee tonic has taken the world by storm. The drink is surprisingly refreshing. Somewhere between a coffee soda and a cocktail, the coffee tonic replaces the combination of gin with coffee, usually an espresso. It serves as an alternative to other common summer drinks such as Iced Lattes or Fraps, which are usually loaded with milk and can be problematic to those who want the boost of iced coffee, without going 100% black such as cold brew. The resulting drink is light, somewhat fruity, with a touch of a bitter note in the finish.

I first discovered the beverage maybe two years ago on my first trip to Amsterdam, where the Scandinavian Embassy were promoting it on their message board. Since, I have brought coffee tonic to the menu of every coffee shop I have worked in since.

The standard recipe is quite simple. Most coffee shops tend to use an espresso or cold brew, poured over ice and then topped off with standard tonic water. With this, there tends to be two problems. First is with an espresso, the acidity and heat of the coffee tends to froth up the espresso, causing the beverage to create a sort of foamy head like in a Guinness which looks kinda cool, but at the same time it kills a bit of the gas in the tonic water, and takes on a strange taste. What works in this method is you do tend to taste a little bit more from the coffee than you do if you use just cold brew. But the problem with using a straight up cold brew is that the mix tends to be dominated by the tonic water, and you taste very little coffee for your effort.

So lately this has gotten me thinking, how can I attempt to improve upon the recipe of a coffee tonic, giving it the most flavour, while at the same time, bringing something new to the table. I am no expert, but I can make a good cocktail, so from this, I decided to bring my former skills to the table and this is the result. I am not saying this method will work for every coffee shop or bar, but I you wish to try something new, please give it a try and let me know what you think.

What you need:

 Great equipment can help make a great cocktail, most is not that expensive and easy to acquire. 

Great equipment can help make a great cocktail, most is not that expensive and easy to acquire. 

Like any good cocktail, what you need are the basics:

·         A good quality stainless steel cocktail shaker

·         A simple barspoon, which has a twisted surface, if you don’t have this use a long spoon or chopsticks.

·         A bar measure (this helps with workflow if you are going to try this in your busy café.

·         A cocktail strainer is a big help but not essential if you don’t have one.


The base of this recipe is by using a tonic syrup as opposed to bottled tonic water, and for your coffee, it is better to use a concentrate such as cold drip (I used a fantastic cold drip made by Roststatte Berlin, using a Guatamalan called Waykan), as this will maintain the flavour of coffee in this cocktail. For this recipe, I used a beautiful elderflower syrup produced by the Jack Rudy Cocktail Company.

To start:

Take a nice heavy bottomed rock glass and fill it with ice. This cools the glass. Next, with your shaker or mixing glass, fill with fresh rock ice.

Then you need:

5cl or 2oz of Cold Drip.

1.5cl of Elderflower Tonic Syrup.

 Jack Rudy are producing a fantastic syrup for tonic based drinks, I really loved the sweet floral note from this version.

Jack Rudy are producing a fantastic syrup for tonic based drinks, I really loved the sweet floral note from this version.


Pour the ingredients into you mixing glass and stir aggressively, for about 90 seconds, to fully incorporate the syrup with the cold drip. When the serving glass becomes cloudy with condensation, and a light foam builds on the top of the mix, it is now ready.

Now fill your rock glass three quarters of the way with your fully sparkling water, and then strain the cold drip tonic mix directly into your glass, and if you feel adventurous, run it off the spoon or an ice-cube, and this creates a beautiful two-tone affect.


At this point I love to serve my coffee tonics with a lemon or orange twist. In this drink I used a nice fresh lemon twist.

The result? A wonderful mix between the smooth chocolatey texture of the cold drip coffee and elderflower tonic, lightened by the refreshing sparkling water, with a sweet bright acidity brought to the drink by that twist of fresh lemon peel.

Try it and see for yourself, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. It’s completely worth the effort.