The Simple Mistake That's Watering Down Your Espresso Tonic

Bubbly, bitter, sweet, and caffeinated, an espresso tonic is an iced beverage that's anything but boring. It's an easy two-ingredient pick-me-up (espresso and tonic, as you probably guessed) that's refreshing and delicious — when it's made correctly. If your espresso tonic tastes watered down, you should pay attention to the temperature of the tonic you're using.

Using room-temperature tonic causes the ice in the beverage to melt faster, which takes the drink from flavorful to lackluster in a hurry. Whether you're making an espresso tonic or a gin and tonic, you should never open room-temperature tonic anyways, since doing so will also cause it to go flat more quickly.

If you're making a hot coffee drink like a toasted marshmallow latte, using fresh, hot espresso is essential. If you're making an iced espresso tonic however, heat is the enemy. Since fresh espresso is, in fact, hot, you need to take extra steps to ensure your drink stays cold. Chilled tonic aside, you can also chill your espresso shot for a few minutes in an ice water bath. You can even chill the glass in the freezer for up to 30 minutes to help keep things extra icy. Big ice cubes have less surface area, so they don't melt as fast as small ice cubes. This means if you really want to avoid watering down your espresso tonic, steer clear of crushed ice or small cubes as well.

Tips for making the best espresso tonic

Since it's such a simple beverage, it's important to select your ingredients carefully when making this drink. When it comes to the espresso, there's a type of coffee roast you should avoid when making an espresso tonic. Don't use roasts that contain strong notes of chocolate, since they will clash with the flavor of the tonic. Instead, look for roasts with hints of citrus which will compliment, rather than compete with, the bittersweet flavors in tonic.

There are tons of tonic waters on the market, and some are a lot sweeter than others, so you can control the overall sweetness of your espresso tonic by choosing your brand based on how much added sugar they contain. You can always add simple syrup if you want to sweeten the drink up even more, too. We recommend buying tonic that comes in small cans or bottles, so you won't have to worry about having leftover tonic that will inevitably go flat if you don't use it.

Order matters when you're building an espresso tonic, and it's important to add ice and tonic to a glass first, and then top it with a shot of espresso. Otherwise, your beverage might bubble over. To enhance the citrus notes, you can garnish the drink by rubbing a lemon or orange peel around the rim of the glass, giving it a quick squeeze over the top to release the oils, and then garnishing the drink with the peel.