Mix it up

Coffee + Tonic = Deliciousness

Inspired by classic cocktails, coffee shops are serving your everyday espresso and cold brew with a weekend-friendly twist.

By Giulia Heyward May 16, 2019

Breaking Wave Coffee owner Radu Dehelean mixes an espresso tonic

Making it through the work week can be a daunting journey. Thankfully, local coffee shops are serving up a cheat code in the form of coffee and tonic water. The concoction borrows the recipe for a classic gin and tonic, but leaves the Tanqueray at home in favor of either cold brew or a shot or two of espresso. Served over ice, it's a SFW solution that's close enough to that Friday evening cocktail.

Breaking Wave Coffee is the latest addition to downtown Sarasota and is already making a splash with its espresso tonic. As the sole item on the shop's "experimental bar" menu, the drink is made by dunking a shot of espresso into tonic syrup and sparkling water. It's an unfamiliar sensation that just begs for a second sip.

The espresso tonic at Breaking Wave Cofee

Varietal Coffee Bar, meanwhile, is currently featuring a seasonal espresso and tonic, made by adding coffee to a mixture of sugar, lime and tonic water, creating a color gradient worthy of any Instagram feed. (A less caffeinated choice is the "Rosemary Square Tonic," which combines tonic water and rosemary with Spirit Tea's Rosella blend.)

For die-hard cold brew fans, O & A Coffee and Supply has been offering a cold brew tonic for the past four years. The decision to use cold brew instead of espresso changes the math behind the drink. "Espresso tonic is going to give you more tonic than espresso," says O & A owner Justin Banister. "We wanted a more coffee-forward drink." The cold brew tonic touts a ratio of two-thirds cold brew to just one-third tonic. According to Banister, most espresso tonics provide three-fourths tonic water to one-fourth espresso. "We wanted something lightly carbonated, where the tonic is a sweet tartness to cut the body of the cold brew," he says.

Served at O & A's mobile cart, the cold brew tonic can also be found on draft at the new downtown beer and wine bar 99 Bottles and will be offered at O & A's brick-and-mortar coffee shop, which is set to open this summer.

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