A New Take On The Vodka Tonic

Originally invented by a troop of cunning British officers as a more enticing means of taking their daily quinine (an anti-malaria drug), the trusty gin and tonic has seen more action throughout the past century than any of the drinks in the craft-cocktail lexicon. Many iterations were quite dismal in flavor, and the swapping of vodka for gin and use of a generic tonic water only served to deepen this bland revolution.

At Danny Meyer's recently opened NYC bar, Porchlight, they've reclaimed the vodka tonic using a truer tonic syrup as well as elderberries in the drink. For the 28th & Tonic cocktail, head bartender Nicholas Bennett sourced inspiration from the nearby High Line elevated park, where he would find herbs and shrubs that could be used in his drinks.

For what's deemed a vodka tonic, the resulting drink — served in a wineglass — is noticeably complex, with bitter quinine notes, tart lemon and herbal undertones. The vodka stands out in just the right way, and with all of the other features, the cocktail certainly maintains a healthful persona. It's sure to please a crowd and at the same time, hopefully lure the less adventurous toward developing a broader palate. Enjoy.

Vodka Tonic

Servings: 1 cocktail


2 ounces vodka

6 ounces tonic water


  • Combine ingredients in a tall Collins glass with ice.
  • Add straw and lime wedge garnish.
  • The 28th and Tonic

    Servings: 1 cocktail


    1 1/2 ounces Tito's vodka

    1/2 ounce Tomr's tonic syrup

    1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

    1/2 ounce elderberry syrup*

    Sparkling white wine (topper)


  • Build all the ingredients less the sparkling wine in a shaker tin and shake with 5-6 ice cubes.
  • Dump the contents of the tin into the glass and top with sparkling wine.
  • Garnish with a lemon wheel.
  • *Elderberry syrup:

  • In a medium pot, heat 2 1/2 cups water, 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 ounce (weight) dried elderberries until the water begins to boil, and reduce until the color has taken on a very dark color (you'll want to reduce by about 1/2 cup).
  • Strain and let cool. Refrigerate for future use.
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes (not including syrup)

    Difficulty: Easy