Something & Tonic
The expanse of western civilization was hindered by a mosquito bite. For centuries, malaria devastated the European explorers who defined the contours of our modern world map—and the indigenous people who resisted them. The cure? Quinine contained in the bark of the South American cinchona tree, whose medicinal properties were discovered around the turn of the 17th century. Over 400 years later, quinine defines the essence of tonic, the most iconic mixer in the world.
Nick Kokonas is an award-winning bartender and the author of Something & Tonic which follows the fascinating history of tonic from the jungles of the Andes mountains to the happy hour highball. Kokonas takes you on a journey around the globe, revealing how tonic emerged from medical necessity to recreational tipple. Included are 60 original cocktail recipes that reveal tonic’s potential beyond the highball, plus tips, tricks, and insight into modern bar culture and cocktail making.
Have you ever wondered what tonic actually is? The beloved mixer is well known to drinkers everywhere, but most don’t know the extent of tonic’s role as a cornerstone of our civilization . In Something & Tonic, Nick takes you on tonic’s journey from 17th century South America, through the globalization of the world and ends up in front of a cocktail at the closest barstool.
“There is no great cocktail that doesn’t brandish a great story, be it fact or fiction, and tonic is undoubtedly riddled with both.”
The story begins with the bark of the cinchona tree, the antidote to malaria, a disease which has killed the largest number of people throughout history. It is uprooted from its native home in South America around 1630 and subsequently changes the world forever. Without the quinine contained in the bark, people throughout the world would have continued to succumb to fever and death.
“The gin and tonic is a history lesson in a glass.”
The gin and tonic emerged from the early days of bar culture to prominence because of the amazing flavor it packs into simplicity. Contemporary drink culture has seen an explosion in the number of tonic brands over the last decade. The emergence of new styles and flavors can transform the classic highball to greater heights, but can be enjoyed in a shocking amount of different applications as Kokonas demonstrates in his book.
“Although classic cocktails are the building blocks for present day mixology, the lines have been blurred. Tonic is no longer just for your gin.”
Nick Kokonas (Kuh-CONE-iss) is an award-winning bartender and a longtime veteran of the hospitality industry. He is author of the new cocktail book Something & Tonic, which explores the fascinating history of the iconic mixer and its role in the development of modern civilization, accompanied by 60 original tonic cocktail recipes. Nick can usually be found mixing drinks behind some of the most prestigious bars in the world, or as a participant in international bartending competitions.
Over the course of his career, Nick has played an integral role in critically-acclaimed bars throughout his hometown, Chicago, Ill. In 2016, he became the beverage director for The Heritage, a new restaurant just outside the city limits. It was there he created the weekly rotating cocktail that would inspire his debut book.
In Chicago Tribune food writer Phil Vettel’s review of the restaurant he writes,
"Kokonas offers a tidy list of five or six cocktails, of which the most interesting is the Something and Tonic, which changes week to week. I don't know if Kokonas can sustain this for a year, but I've managed to have three versions of this drink, and so far, so good.”
Since moving on from The Heritage, Nick has spent time running bar programs in both Chicago and Charleston, SC. Something & Tonic was released in May of 2021. Since it's release, he has been working and traveling around the country doing bar pop-ups featuring cocktails from the book.
Nick Kokonas (kuh CONE iss) is an award-winning bartender and longtime veteran of the hospitality industry. He is the author of the cocktail book Something & Tonic which explores the history of tonic and its role in the development of modern civilization. His book also contains 60 original recipes for tonic cocktails which explore the mixer beyond the classic application of the gin and tonic highball. Welcome Nick, and let’s begin with what is tonic water exactly?
Nick Kokonas is an award-winning bartender and author of the cocktail book Something & Tonic, which explores the fascinating history of tonic and its role in the development of modern civilization, along with 60 original tonic cocktail recipes.
Praise for Something & Tonic
“The ‘[fill in the blank] and tonic’ has become a cornerstone of today’s drinks world, but while our understanding of wines and spirits has grown greatly over the years, seldom has a researcher dived so deeply into the story of essential drink mixers. Something & Tonic is a necessary resource that fills in many of the gaps in our understanding of all things related to cinchona, quinine, and tonic—and the best ways to enjoy them in a glass.” - Paul Clarke, Executive Editor, Imbibe