Food editor Rick Martinez on the drink that makes him feel like he’s on vacation—even when he’s at work in Bon Appétit’s offices.
“It seemed very suspicious to me—I couldn’t imagine drinking tonic in the morning—but a friend of mine who owns a café in Harlem called Shuteye fixed me one, and the only polite thing to do was to drink it. My mind was blown. It’s transformative! The tonic turns a shot of espresso into something completely different, almost unrecognizable.
Normally, you see this drink with lemon, but because that’s sharper, you have to be more judicious with it. Lime has tropical notes and a sweetness that I like. So I pull a long shot or, if I’m buying it, I order a double shot. I throw that into a pint glass filled with ice, top it with about 8 ounces of good-quality tonic, and squeeze a lime wedge into it. It’s so balanced: The warm espresso melts the ice, which waters the coffee down a bit, and the tonic’s sweetness with that bitter edge pulls out the tannins and the herbaceousness of the coffee, depending on what you’re drinking. A dark roast will clash with the tonic, so you want something lighter, with berry or stone fruit notes.
As much as I love a morning mug full of coffee, there’s also a bit of monotony and drudgery associated with it for me, because it’s usually the beginning of the workday. This feels like something that I should be enjoying on the beach.”
Rick may like his espresso and tonic in the morning, but at Mission and Market, Eduardo Guzman pairs his version with dessert—preferably something rich and chocolaty. The Buckhead restaurant opened after my time in Atlanta—I was the food editor of Atlanta magazine for two very fun (and busy!) years—but I love the addition of bitters, which, with just one dash, usher this drink into the night.
- Fill a collins glass with ice and pour in the tonic water. Top with the espresso and bitters. Garnish with the lemon twist
Reprinted with permission from Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason by Julia Bainbridge, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography copyright: Alex Lau © 2020