Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. releases elderflower tonic


The arrival of Labor Day doesn't have to spell the end of gin-and-tonic season, according to Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.'s Brooks Reitz, who this week released an elderflower tonic suitable for colder-weather sipping.

"Instead of sharp citrus notes, it has the dense, rounder flavor of elderflower," explains Reitz, who's also the co-owner of Leon's Oyster Shop.

While the pace of Jack Rudy's releases has been slowed by Reitz's involvement in other projects -- and a desire not to stray from the company's founding philosophy of producing high-quality, Southern-inspired bar supplies -- Reitz had long wanted to experiment with elderflower. The wild blossom is common in his native Kentucky.

After seeing a few elderflower tonics overseas, Reitz decided to try seeping elderflower in Jack Rudy's signature syrup, an outgrowth of his work behind FIG's bar that was first released commercially in 2011. To ensure the elderflower didn't overwhelm the tonic's distinctive flavors, "the quinine was bumped up just a touch."

"I appreciate the simple things, so I think the best use is still a gin and tonic," Reitz says. "It mixes well with tequila as well."

Reitz initially planned to confine sales to Jack Rudy's website, but response was so enthusiastic at an event held last night at The Commons that he's working with a few local retail partners to sell the elderflower tonic: Starting today, Caviar & Bananas, High Wire Distilling Co. and goat.sheep.cow will stock the mixer. Suggested retail price is $10-$12 for an eight-ounce bottle.

The tonic will be available online in a few days, along with bourbon cocktail cherries and a new line of barware developed in collaboration with Makr, an Orlando design firm specializing in handcrafted leather goods. The items include an American hickory muddler ("we went through probably seven prototypes," Reitz says); a bartender's travel bag, based on a chef's knife roll; and copper Collins glasses.

"It's a riff on the Moscow Mule cup, but long and slender," Reitz says. "Gin-and-tonics are best served cold, and copper makes it at least seem colder."

The trick apparently works even when drinking gin-and-elderflower tonic in the depths of December.

For more information, visit jackrudycocktailco.com.