When the weather finally warms up in these parts all we want to do is sit out in the garden with the sun, the birds, a good book and a tall cool drink. But this spring we're going on a quest for better cocktails - not crazy new recipes or exotic infusions, just better quality quaffing. We tend to consume a lot of tonic water for one thing, mixed with gin, of course (but also vodka and rum; if you've never had a Mt. Gay and tonic with lime, you don't know what you're missing). The well-known tonics that are readily available however not only have a medicinal, metallic taste, but we hate to abuse good gin by insinuating it into the same glass. Ditto the other muck cluttering up the drinks section in our local supermarket.
So this season we're banishing the big-name brands and stocking up on all-natural ingredients from Stirrings, the Massachusetts-based company dedicated to improving America's drinking habits. They cost a little more, but like the best things fitting that description, they're well worth it, and made entirely without the aid of artificial colors and flavors, corn syrup, and preservatives. Stirrings' tonic is made with triple-filtered water, Cinchona bark extract (a source of quinine), and a little cane sugar; infused with "champagne-like" carbonation, it's crisper, cleaner and lighter than the stuff we've been poisoning ourselves with these long years.
We're also going to lay in some of their all-natural club soda, made with triple-filtered water and a pinch of hand-gathered fleur de sel from France, and their other excellent sodas. And if we get really adventurous, we might try their mixers, garnishes, essences and syrups, including authentic grenadine made with real pomegranate. We'd tell you more, but we've suddenly been struck with a powerful thirst.
Gallery: Stirrings Cocktail Classics