Espresso Tonic Is the Latest Twist on Cold Brew—Here's How to Make It

Bubbles and coffee combine for a refreshing non-alcoholic sipper.

There's not much that can make me stray from my usual cold brew order at my local coffee shop. Then I was introduced to espresso tonic. Hearing tonic is involved might make it sound like a fancy cocktail you'd order at a bar, but the two-ingredient coffee drink is simply espresso (or cold brew) and tonic water served over ice. As a result, you get a light, refreshing, and bubbly alternative to getting your daily caffeine boost. The espresso tonic has already been circling around in the specialty coffee world the past few years. If you're ready to move on from whipped coffee to something new, this is the next delicious way to up your homebrewing game.

close up of hands pouring espresso into a glass of tonic water
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How to Make Espresso Tonic

Even though it only has two ingredients, there are a few things to note before you make your own.

  1. A basic espresso tonic is usually made with a 1:2 ratio of espresso to tonic water but can be tweaked to your taste preference. So if you have a double shot of espresso (2 ounces), you'd want to add 4 ounces of tonic. You can use cold brew instead of espresso but go for a concentrate (without water added) because you're using tonic as your mixer which will end up diluting it.
  2. So few ingredients means it's worth getting the good stuff. Go for fruitier beans such as an Ethiopian roast ($22, Trade Coffee) that will pair nicely with your citrusy tonic. And as for the tonic, go for a quality brand such as (my favorite) Fever Tree ($5, Target).
  3. Pour the tonic water over ice in your glass first before slowly adding the coffee on top. This allows the bubbles to settle and avoids any overflow. Plus, you can enjoy the beautiful presentation of coffee separated in its own layer above the bubbles. Insert a straw and sip away.

Some cafés offer twists on the espresso tonic by serving it with a flavored syrup. Starbucks even has recipes featuring orange and crushed cardamom. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is by making a cold brew tonic with a bit of simple syrup, a twist of lemon or lime, and a sprig of fresh mint. It's the perfect refreshing summer drink on a hot day.

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