Fun name, right? The BLT, a combo of Bourbon, Lemon, and Tonic Water is an easy-to-drink summer whiskey and tonic cocktail that’s at the top of my list now that it’s starting to warm up.
What is Tonic Water?
Tonic water gets its bitter flavor from Quinine, a medicine used to prevent Malaria. In the 1800s in order to make the quinine more palatable the British military stationed in India, mixed the extremely bitter medicine with seltzer and lemon, thus the birth of ‘Tonic Water’. Today tonic water doesn’t actually have enough quinine in it to be medicinal, it’s just there for the slightly bitter flavor it gives this mixer.
Typically, tonic water is a mixer with either gin or vodka. I had made a Blood Orange Gin and Tonic the other day and after tasting the tonic on its own felt that it would be excellent with the bourbon I had on hand.
I currently have a particularly aromatic bottle of Bourbon right now. With a nice spicy quality, good floral notes, a smokiness, and a nice amount of heat from the alcohol content, it seemed to me using tonic water as a mild form of bitters would be a good idea.
Tonic and Bourbon
Why does tonic water go so well with Bourbon? Simple enough, it has a slightly bitter flavor.
We’ve been adding bitters to cocktails since the 1800s, these highly concentrated extracts are potent, boozy little flavor bombs. Adding a few dashes of bitters to cocktails adds complexity, depth, and character. The floral notes, oak, vanilla, spice, everything that you love about your favorite bourbon is enhanced and highlighted.
Tonic water although not as concentrated as ‘bitters’ has the same ability to highlight and enhance your favorite whiskey. At the same time bringing a nice refreshing fizz that you want from a summery cocktail mixer without being sugary.
Experiment with the Sugar Content
As I experimented with the lemon and sugar content. My personal preference was for a whisper of lemon and no sugar. My co-conspirator in this experiment liked the cocktail with both more lemon and sugar. Both concoctions are excellent, but you should try them both ways and decide for yourself.
The BLT, with the slightly bitter flavor of Tonic Water and the smokiness of Bourbon, mixed with just a whisper of lemon and optional simple syrup. I predict this whiskey and tonic is going to be your summer go-to thirst quencher.
Bourbon whiskey, tonic, and a hint of lemon, it doesn’t get much better.
Here is my recipe for The BLT | Bourbon, Lemon, and Tonic
The BLT | Bourbon, Lemon, and Tonic
- 2 Ounce Bourbon
- 4 Ounces Tonic Water
- 1/2 Ounce Lemon Juice Fresh
- 1/2 Ounce Simple Syrup Optional
- Lemon Wedge
- Combine all ingredients on the rocks in an old fashioned glass, enjoy
This was quite good. Too bitter for me with no sweetener but adding a 1/4 oz of maple syrup in place of simple syrup made this Maple BLT (my own twist on your recipe) a very nice drink.
Thank you DAWS! Yeah, I go back and forth between sweet and unsweetened. I’ll give the maple syrup a try, it sounds pretty good.
I did the same- before reading your comment! Maple Syrup took the edge off and gave it a nice depth!
Why have I never tried this before?! We just happened to have some lemon syrup in the fridge, which was very welcome! It’s lovely sweetened or unsweetened. Can’t wait to share with others this summer, thanks!