Tonic for the Southern Soul

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Small Batch Tonic gives the classic mixer an artisanal update

Tonic is one of those bar staples that usually gets about as much thought as club soda. But leave it to a Southerner to come up with a handcrafted version that’s as much art as mixer. 

Created by mixologist Brooks Reitz of FIG in Charleston, South Carolina, Jack Rudy Tonic began as a personal project, but it quickly developed a passionate following when Reitz started giving folks a taste at the bar. No wonder. Named for Reitz’s great-grandfather, the tonic, actually a concentrated syrup, is a throwback in the best sort of way, even down to the apothecary-style bottle. But it’s the depth of flavor that really sets it apart, with just the right bitterness along with light citrus notes thanks to infusions of orange and lemongrass. “Our intention is to take products that people take for granted like tonic and reformulate them using better ingredients,” Reitz says. “The response has been huge. Southerners have a special appreciation for a good drink.”

Speaking of a good drink, mix it with a little soda water and your gin of choice for a gin and tonic like you’ve never had before. Or try this recipe from the Cocktail Club in Charleston, which uses Jack Rudy along with Angostura bitters for a fall version of the gin and tonic traditionally served to ward off colds. Tonic, indeed.

The Cocktail Club’s Jack Rudy Elixir

1½ oz. Old Tom’s Gin
½ oz. Jack Rudy syrup
4 to 5 oz. soda water
2 squeezes of lime juice
4 dashes of Angostura bitters

Fill a glass with crushed ice. Pour in gin, syrup, and lime juice. Stir mixture. Top with soda water and add in Angostura bitters.