Earlier this summer I was out running errands and decided to stop in at a local coffee shop I hadn’t been to before. I planned to just grab an iced latte, but my attention was instead snagged by one of their summer specials—a blueberry basil espresso tonic.
My brain went, “UM YES”. So I ordered it, and I found it a fascinating experience with each sip…sweet, tart, refreshing, bubbly, bitter. I immediately set to recreating it at home.
What Is Espresso Tonic?
Espresso tonic is a drink combining freshly-brewed espresso, tonic water, and (usually) lime. It often has a bit of simple syrup added as well. It’s a refreshing, sweet, energizing, bubbly drink that makes a fun pick-me-up during the day, or a delicious mocktail.
Espresso tonics are having a bit of a moment right now in the U.S., and I’d already planned to work on a recipe for one, but hadn’t imagined this fun of a flavor combo.
The star of this show is an intense, punchy blueberry simple syrup. It’s super simple to make, keeps in the fridge for a couple weeks, and also makes delightful cocktails (including this blueberry mint gin smash) or is great poured over pancakes.
To make your blueberry espresso tonic, brew your espresso as normal and set aside to cool (you can do this ahead of time). I have a Nespresso machine, it’s like $100 and absolutely amazing!
You can order Nespresso capsules on Amazon ongoing (or through their site), or my new obsession is a company called Artizan Coffee Roasters, which specializes in organic espresso (including decaf!) and provides compostable/biodegradable capsules.
When you’re ready, add quite a bit of ice to a pint glass (or other large glass), and add the blueberry simple syrup.
Put the basil leaves in your palm and hard-clap them with your other hand—this releases some of the oils of the basil for more flavor. Then add them to the glass.
Slowly pour the tonic water over the ice. I start on the low end of tonic water, you can always add more. Then add the espresso (doing things in this order helps keep the fizzing manageable).
Gently stir with a straw or spoon, then taste and add more tonic water if needed. I often add a few more ice cubes for good measure.
There are a few things to keep in mind to make your blueberry basil espresso tonic extra awesome.
Generally speaking, the ratio of espresso to tonic water is typically 1:3, so one ounce of espresso for every three ounces of tonic water. But this will also depend on personal preference and the exact taste profile of your tonic water, so play around with it.
And on that note, use good tonic water! SERIOUSLY. Please don’t use like, Schweppes or Canada Dry nonsense, which taste awful and are full of weird sugar and chemicals. Q Tonic and Fever-Tree are both great brands that use quality ingredients and are less sickly sweet, allowing the flavors to come through.
Also, it helps if you pour the tonic water into the glass before the espresso to avoid the tonic water bubbling over. It will still fizz plenty, but you can hopefully avoid a spillover.
This blueberry espresso tonic has been a major treat for me in the mid-afternoon when working from home, and is now a part of my regular iced coffee rotation!
Other delightful coffee treats you’ll love:
- Citrus Cardamom Coffee Spritzer
- My Perfect Iced Coffee (with a Secret Ingredient)
- Shaken Brown Sugar Vanilla Iced Latte (Starbucks Copycat)
- Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Cold Brew Coffee
- Black Raspberry Irish Coffee
I adapted some pieces of this from Good Food Baddie
Pin for later!
- 1 or 2 shots of espresso (1-2 ounces; note, this is the "short" shot, not the lungo)
- 3 to 6 ounces of quality tonic water like Q or Fevertree, plus more to taste
- 2 (or more) ounces of blueberry simple syrup
- A few fresh basil leaves
- Brew your espresso as normal and set aside to cool (you can do this ahead of time).
- To make your drink, add quite a bit of ice to a pint glass (or other large glass), and add the blueberry simple syrup.
- Put the basil leaves in your palm and hard-clap them with your other hand---this releases some of the oils of the basil for more flavor. Then add them to the glass.
- Slowly pour the tonic water over the ice, then add the espresso (doing things in this order helps keep the fizzing manageable).
- Gently stir with a straw or spoon, then taste and add more tonic water if needed. I often add a few more ice cubes for good measure.
- Typically for espresso tonic, you'll want a 1:3 ratio of espresso to tonic water. But it depends on personal preference and how intense both liquids are. Start there, but then taste and adjust as needed.
- Trust me, real brewed espresso is the way to go here. Regular coffee will definitely not work the same here. I've heard cold brew can work, but that would definitely be a different flavor/vibe and I'm not sure I'm into it.
- Use good tonic water! Not like Schweppes or Canada Dry nonsense, which taste awful, full of weird sugar. Q and Fevertree both use real cane sugar and are less sickly sweet, allowing the flavors to come through.