New Western Tonic
2 parts St. George Spirits “Terroir” Gin
2 parts Qtonic Tonic Water
1 part Upson’s “Alberta Wild Rose and Lemon Cordial”
1 barspoon Bittered Sling “Western Elderberry” bitters
Build in rocks glass with ice. Give mixture a stir to combine ingredients. Garnishes for tonics are an open book, so think of using edible flowers, fresh herbs, chunks of fruit or all three depending on season.
Upson’s Lemonade is a newer business for an Edmonton team that includes the talented Chef/Bartender Shawn Hicks. It incorporates the official flower of Alberta, the Wild Rose. Designed according to research the Upson’s crew did into chemist Arthur Upson’s recipes for 1800’s cordials. Each small batch they brew up is hand numbered. For this post I used Batch #10131.
Bittered Sling is the lovechild of renowned Bartender Lauren Mote and her husband, the accomplished Chef Jonathan Chovancek. The Vancouver based company has a lineup of continuously made bitters and seasonal flavors. I love that they release their extracts according to vintages, the 2012 being the one used for this tonic.
It only made sense to round out the tonic with products made from exceptional and uncompromising ingredients. To do this I used the amazing Terroir Gin from St. George Spirits Gin and the very clean Qdrinks Tonic. The Terroir Gin is like getting to taste Northern California with Douglas fir, California bay laurel and coastal sage among the regional botanical they used.
The abundance of brands producing quality spirits and increasingly good mixers is a blessing for craft culture. As craft bartenders we strive to use the best, most honest products on the market. Bittered Sling is a brand that we support often in our posts on justcocktails.org?
Curious how they got their start, I talked to Lauren Mote, of Bittered Sling, about bitters and where she got her start:
What was your first point of engagement with bitters?
“The first time I tried bitters was in my grandmother’s kitchen. She had a rusty bottle of Angostura shoved to the back of her spice rack in the cupboard. This was in 1996, and I was 14.”
What was the first bittered cocktail that got you interested in enjoying bitters?
“I wouldn’t have picked up another bottle until the early 2000’s, making cocktails for friends during University, in Ontario. Back then I had no equipment, just a big stock pot and some ice! To be honest, it was my Aussie Bar Manager, Lachlan Dennis at Le Select Bistro in Toronto that got me hooked on the classic cure-all; “lemon-lime bitters”, which is 7Up with loads of Angostura. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so mine was always made with club soda. From then on I was hooked on bitters.”
When did you start making your own bitters?
“After a lot of research, trial and error for several years, I put my food science studies to the test.
In 2009, I launched the all-homemade bitters program at The Refinery, in Vancouver.
By 2011, Chef Jonathan Chovancek and I had opened Kale & Nori Culinary Arts, and we felt compelled to develop recipes and brilliant formulae for the launch of our own bitters line, “Bittered Sling Extracts”, and share our love for flavors and creativity with the world.”
Of the bitters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
“That’s like asking a mother who their favorite child is. It’s not going to happen, haha!
All of the Bittered Sling products are unique and different, and I am always surprised with our new, seasonal discoveries!”
(We suggest: If you can only get your hands on one bottle of Bittered Sling, go for the Moondog bitters. Pan-asian smoked clove. So fun to use in cocktails)
They’ve gone from making bitters in their test kitchen on to national and now international distribution. Reflecting on that, Mote finished with the thought,
“Jonathan and I are always thrilled that so many people come out to taste products, go to seminars and generally show a major interest in their passion”
Cheers to that!