Thursday, 2 May 2013

Tonic Espresso + Bar - something a little bit different

Let me start off by saying, I am not a big drinker.  In fact, you could count on one hand the number of times I have been inebriated in the last decade.  Sure, I have a drink every now and then, but normally it's a vodka and lemonade or a 'girly' premixed vodka drink.

I often get invited out to have some drinks in different situations and normally find a lame way out of going along....   But when I was invited to come along and check out the latest offering from Tonic Espresso + Bar, I was intrigued enough to overcome my natural aversion to having a few drinks and check it out.

Tonic has a really interesting background and history, with an unusual journey to becoming a hip bar in the Valley.  Tonic is actually an architecture and design firm located in Hynes Street in Fortitude Valley who have been extremely creative with some spare space and transitioned it's garage into an Espresso bar.  The espresso bar started out as a way for locals to get their morning coffee fix and grew rapidly in popularity, so much so that it was extended with tables and seating inside and out!

With the success of the espresso bar, the next thought was about converting Tonic into a real bar and with a name like Tonic, it was a natural step to evolve into a Gin bar, with a side offering of craft beers and ciders.  Finally, and to complete the evolution, was to add some food to the offering, which led to a tapas menu with quite an eclectic offering.

While I normally write, talk and pretty much obsess over food, on this night the food took second place to the main reason for my visit to Tonic, which was to step outside my comfort zone and participate in a Gin Flight, which is essentially a tasting of different Gins, similar to a wine tasting.  Our host for the night was Matthew Colliard, who, I might add, knows more about Gin than is natural for a normal human being.  Matt loves Gin......  So much so that he was able to talk for almost three hours about the history of Gin and how it has been consumed over the ages.  I now know more about Gin than I ever thought I would!  While there was a lot of info that Matt provided on the night, probably the most memorable for me was that it was believed that Gin was a remedy for the black death in the middle ages....  I also learned that Gin is essentially just flavoured Vodka and can be made with many of the same key ingredients, but what makes Gin is the addition of Juniper berries!

I was a bit apprehensive as the Gin tasting commenced, I mean I almost never drink straight spirits, and the idea behind this tasting was to sip the Gin, hold it in your mouth and 'breath' in the flavours.  My first couple of attempts at this were greeted with mirth around the table, I think I pulled a few faces that might have been funny if captured on film (luckily they were not!).  All up for the night we sampled about ten different Gins and while some around the table could tell the difference between the flavours textures, I could not.

By the time the evening came to a close, I had sampled all ten or so Gins and many of the traditional accompaniments that normally work well with Gin.  I discovered that Grapefruit is more palatable for me after a nip of Gin than Lime or Lemon, the more traditional chasers.  I also discovered that eating an olive after a shot of Gin does actually change the flavour of both.  After all was said and done, the only way that I could drink more than just a sip of the Gin was by adding heaps of Tonic.

For those who love Gin, then Tonic is the prefect spot to spend a Friday night or perhaps a whole Saturday afternoon and evening.  I am really pleased that I came along to Tonic for the evening and try something that I wouldn't normally do, but at the end of the evening when we had our choice of cocktails to finish up on, I went back to my comfort zone.  I ordered a Clockwork Orange in homage to one of my favourite films but mainly because it had no Gin in it!

For those of you who were wondering if I was inebriated by the end of the night.......  Well, that will have to be for a chat in person!


** I was a guest of Tonic for this event

Matt in action talking about and preparing the Gin Flight.  Matt knows his Gin!
Some antipasto to go along with all the Gin.  Drinking on an empty stomach is bad right?

A good selection of antipasto to help settle the stomach before the Gin 
Thats a lot of glasses on the table and each and every one was used several times over!
Back to the girly drinks to finish off - A Clockwork Orange

Tonic Espresso and Bar on Urbanspoon

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