Kris Smith and Dan Meades love “shmancy-pants cocktails.” And Smith loves Whiskey the way Meades loves gin. This duo behind The Third Place Tonic, who perfected artisan tonic so every one of us could enjoy the zenith of G&Ts, has now, after nine months in the test kitchen, brought to bear an equally high calibre product to compliment our whiskeys.
Yes, Third Place Ginger Rose was nine months gestating; a true labour of love. Meades describes the sort of cocktails they wanted to echo with the new product, “the ones that cost twenty eight euro and take a bartender twenty five minutes to make as [they] smoke the cherries in front of you.” Those cocktails are, according to Meades, almost always Whiskey based.
Every spirit has its trending cycle, but Whiskey seems always in vogue. With the rise of classic and “shmancy” cocktail culture Meades says the “problem set [we’re] trying to solve is this: people are into [high end] whiskeys these days, but they take it home and they don’t know what to do with it.
“Cocktail culture is a weird thing. We know how to experience it in a bar but, as much as I can dork out about [aspects of it at home like making the perfect] ice*, there is equipment you don’t want to have to [own].” Though Meades concedes that Smith “may have a cold smoking gun at home,” most of us do not.
The product comes with a suggested recipe on its label: 1 oz Third Place Ginger Rose, 2 oz soda, 2 oz Whiskey (Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon recommended). With the depth of flavours in the product that simple recipe is all you need.
It has a citrus profile and red colour that bring it into the basic Angostura Bitters realm, but the flavours here are more even handed and heady. Meades credits the broad spectrum of flavours to their hard fought balance of both cold and hot steeping the ginger and the Szechuan peppercorns.
The product has a smokiness built into it from the Lapang Souchong tea which they source from Daniel Liu’s The Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver. The rose petals add a delicate floral bouquet, and the bitterness comes from the hibiscus and cinchona bark.
And all of it is in service to the warmth of bourbon and the peatiness of scotch. Drinking it put me right back in New Orleans with a Peychaud Bitters Sazerac in one hand and a cigar in the other. I look forward to seeing what further magic our local bartenders can mix up with this lovely new tool.
It will be at most high end bars in St John’s and in all stores where Third Place Tonic is sold (Rocket, O’leva, Food for Thought, Beyond the Olive, Belbin’s, Home on Water, Civic Duty). It launched nationally on Oct 13th so look for it across Canada. It is even available at The Foodland in St. Anthony on the Northern Peninsula (Smith’s home town), where the original tonic is already bought “hand over fist.”
*Meades Perfect Cocktail Ice
Freeze one large block in a wax paper lined coleman cooler. The cloudy sediments will settle to the bottom. Remove the ice and cut with a bread knife and a hammer. The larger the ice in your drink, the less surface area to chill ratio, which means a colder, less diluted drink. A decent cheat is freezing ice “cubes” in a muffin tins. Each should fit well in a low ball glass.