Tonic has been around for more than 15 years so it’s a survivor. Despite the handy and central location, just off George Street, you don’t last that long unless you have something good to offer. At the moment, it’s friendly staff creating a real sense of welcome in the contemporary, non-flashy interior – and a commendable cocktail list. This runs to nine pages although each page only carries three or four choices and everything is ordered according to base spirit.
There’s a logic and creativity here – the mixology tends to be thoughtful but fun. They don’t shy away from using liqueurs and syrups based on passionfruit, peach, pineapple and other fruits, leading to mixes like the André 3000: Martin Miller’s gin, Briottet Liqueur de Litchi, pineapple juice, raspberry gomme and lemon juice. If Tonic has one unmissable cocktail though it’s the magisterial Lost: single malt and blended Scotch (Talisker and Johnny Walker Black Label), Velvet Falernum and Peychaud’s Bitters: layered with flavour, it’s really quite remarkable.
It doesn’t take many people to fill this place, but if you catch it on some quiet late afternoon just after opening, or midweek evening, it’s a chilled space for a quality drink; busier on peak nights after 9pm when DJs make an appearance.