The one thing about writing a food website, is you need to pace yourself, a lesson I learned this week. We had a dinner at Seasons booked in and I thought cocktail tasting at Tonic Cocktail Bar would make a nice after dinner activity for us. What I hadn’t intended on, was being offered the full wine flight to go with our tasting menu at Seasons – a delicious selection of prosecco, red and white wine, and cocktails were brought to our table to accompany what was a delicious meal. Neither of us are used to drinking alcohol in large quantities, in fact Alex was teetotal for six years. Apparently driving buses in Edinburgh and alcohol don’t mix so well.
Anyway, back to our cocktail tasting – despite having eaten six delicious plates of food and enjoyed an equal number of drinks, we weren’t ready to go home. I’m not sure if Ryan the friendly bar manager noticed how many drinks we had under our belt, but we were still in control of all our faculties. I think we got away with it.
While I love wine and gin and vodka, there’s something about drinking cocktails that gives an evening a celebratory vibe. As our daughter was away on camp, we were in the mood for fun.
Tonic Cocktail Bar has a great central location on Castle Street, just off George Street. For those not familiar with Edinburgh, George Street is a hive of high end shops and lots of bars and restaurants. It’s one of the popular areas to go where a day shopping can lead into dinner and then drinks. Tonic is the perfect place to begin an evening of drinking and dancing, or somewhere to round your evening off.
Inside is low lit and its basement location gives it a bit of a cavernous feel. You’ll find a mix of ages, so whether you’re 21 or 51, you shouldn’t feel out of place.
The new cocktail menu is split into sections by type of alcohol, page one is Vodka, page two is Gin, and so on. There are six pages in all, so plenty to explore, and something for everyone
We ordered the Birds of Paradise and the Capri Fun, which had been recommended to us.
The Birds of Paradise was the first choice from the Vodka section of the menu – Grey Goose, lemon juice, sugar syrup, vanilla and violet foam with a Parma Violet dust. I chose this one as I love Parma Violets. The violet flavour was subtle, a nice cocktail but I’m still craving the really violety cocktail I’ve been searching for. I think you’d need something like Zymurgorium’s Sweet Violet Gin to get that kind of hit though. This was a little nod to our childhood sweets though and very tasty.
The Capri Fun, if you hadn’t worked it out, is a playful twist on one of our other childhood favourites (although truth be told, I’m still partial to one now and then) – the Capri Sun. This was served in a plastic pouch in the shape of the original Capri Sun (although this alcoholic version is much larger!), some friends likened it to a colostomy bag, but I think that says more about the company I keep than the quality of the cocktails at Tonic – which I have to say are very good.
Alex stayed on the Gin page for his next selection, Tom Yum Collins. Served in a long glass this was a lot of cocktail for £8. Kaffir lime infused Tanquery, lemon juice and Tom Yum inspired sugar syrup with a soda charge made for a refreshing mix, and a perfect cocktail after a long day’s shopping.
After a long night of drinking, it was time for something dark. A visit to the Rum page, and a few minutes later, The Left Falange arrived. Flavours of chocolate and orange were created with Ron Zacappa 23, Briottet Cacao, chocolate bitters, orange bitters and sugar syrup, all served with a mini iceberg which was a classy touch. The chocolate finger was an unexpected surprise, but very very welcome. Any sustenance at this point of the evening was going to help with the final round.
Like a boxer, I tried to focus my eyes. I probably had one more good round in me, and then it was time to throw the towel in. We were determined to make it a good one.
Alex ordered the Gin ‘n’ Juice – Martin Millers, Courvoisier VS, orange puree, citric acid and plum bitters.
Ever the explorer, I was off to the back page to discover something Sweet & Imperfect. I decided fruit would help with the hangover, so it was A Lovely Bunch Of Melons for me – Midori, Auchentoshan, Solerno, lemon juice, orange bitters and sugar syrup.
We had a great night at Tonic and felt really comfortable, it’s definitely on my list of go places when I’m in that area.
Tonic Cocktail Bar
Location: 34A North Castle Street
Price: Cocktails £6-£8.95
Good for: A wide range of cocktails, and central location