The latest addition to Melbourne’s ever-growing specialty-drinks scene is Blood Moon Tonic, a boutique brand of tonics that’s had a promising start. Creator Karolina Partyka set out to raise funds for her business with a Pozible campaign and smashed the $10,000 goal in just three days.

It’s been met with excitement from Australia’s bar scene, too. Westwinds Gin pledged support and was offering its gin as a reward to supporters during the Pozible campaign. Bars such as The Collection Bar in Richmond and Gin Palace in the city are already using the syrup.

What is it about this tonic that’s sparked such interest, and how’s it different to a standard tonic water on the shelf of every bar around the country?

Tonic water is now a popular soft drink and bar mixer, but it started as medicine, used in colonial Africa and South Asia to fight malaria. It’s the quinine in the tonic that gives it its medicinal properties and also its bitterness. Back then, the quinine content was far higher, and this is why the British began mixing it with gin – to improve the bitter flavour. Though the G&T remains popular, ironically, the roles of its main ingredients have been turned on their heads. Because tonic is now more palatable, it is often used to improve the flavour of gin. There has also been a move away from the traditional cinchona bark as the source of quinine – at least in many mass-market tonics – in favour of synthetic quinine.

Recently, however, there has been backlash – particularly in the Unites States –with new premium-brand tonics creating strong tonic syrups and again using cinchona. This is precisely what Blood Moon Tonic is doing. Describing the advantage of using cinchona rather than a synthetic, Partyka says, “It’s like the difference between having a cup of coffee or just having the caffeine.”

Blood Moon Tonic is now available online through the Blood Moon website, Only Bitters and Dan Murphy's.

bloodmoontonic.com