This dusty-pink bar with gold and dark grey accents features a neon sign, a portrait of the Queen and greenery everywhere. It’s owned by Caitlin and Dennis Human, who started Tonic after running a very successful stall at the Linden Market.
While Tonic’s main focus is its outstanding list of gins, the small food menu combines interesting Korean and Eastern flavours, including gin in some of the dishes. For starters, order one of the small plates to share with your first G&T. Try the hand-cut potato chips with chorizo ketchup, warm gin and citrus kalamata olives, and sticky and spicy Korean pork ribs.
For mains, the flatbread with gin-spiced poached pear, gorgonzola and Parma ham is a good choice. The light essence of the gin mixed with pear and the powerful gorgonzola cheese is easy on the palate and pairs well with a cucumber gin and tonic. The well-priced range of burgers offers hearty portions. Go for the Middle Eastern lamb burger with tzatziki, tomato, baby spinach, pickled red onions and feta cheese. The combination of flavours on the lightly toasted bun is sensational – the perfect sidekick for your gin cocktail.
From the limited dessert menu, opt for the chocolate mousse with salted caramel and sesame brittle – rich, creamy and delicious with little bits of crispy brittle to round it all off.
With a comprehensive range of local and international gins, this bar has a gin and tonic for every type of person. The endless list includes ‘suitcase gins’ brought in from overseas by the owners’ friends, such as Collagin, Unicorn Tears, Scheibel The Original, and Pinkster, most of which aren’t readily available in South Africa. To mix it, choose from over 20 tonics. Most of the syrups used in the botanical cocktails are made in-house.
The menu features cocktails with names like Salt Bae and Oh Honey You So Fine, but you can also kick off with a good old-fashioned cucumber martini with a sizeable amount of cucumber, mixed with strong gin and a dash of tonic water. The signature Mother Fluffer cocktail, described on the menu as ‘Boomerang and Instagram-friendly’, features Tonic’s house gin infused with marshmallow, Indian tonic, Von Fluff candy floss and toasted marshmallow. The Ugly Betty built cocktail with lavender syrup, Chinchona grapefruit tonic and sparkling wine also gets the nod of approval.
The drinks menu includes a few non-alcoholic options, such as virgin G&T brands The Duchess and Saint, as well as soft drinks, select wines, other spirits and beers.
The service is friendly and down-to-earth, the waiters quirky and helpful. Sitting at the bar allows you to watch the cocktails being made by expert barmen dressed in Hawaiian shirts. If you’re lucky you’ll be served by Dennis or Caitlin Human, who are super knowledgeable about the wide variety of drinks on offer.
The vibe and décor are inviting – as the sign at the door says: ‘Good vibes only’. Sit out on the busy Linden street, take a seat at the bar, sit at a table or on a couch. It’s eclectic, flirty and fun. The whole place is Insta-worthy thanks to Caitlin’s fashion design background.
Pre-drinks with friends, birthdays, a fun night out.
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What a stunning venue. We went to Tonic for my partners birthday and it absolutely did not disappoint. The vibe of the place is magic and the food was incredible. Best of all...obviously the gin! Each gin cocktail was delicious and the comprehensive list of gins makes putting your own gin together oh so exciting. Finally and enough of a reason to get to Gin ASAP was the gorgeous Caitlin. She was the hostess with the mostess and ensured that our time was nothing short of fabulous. The place positively thrived under her supervision and even though it was packed, Caitlin ensured that our drinks and bellies were kept full. She is an absolute asset and I have no doubt this spot is here to stay!
I stubbled across this little gem after work one Friday, the place was buzzing. The staff are welcoming and friendly, introduce themselves by name and ask what your name is, I felt like I was at home, but a home cooler than mine. The selection of drinks is quite overwhelming, but that is because they have a huge list of local and international gins that they sell per shot (and I'd hope so being a gin bar!), so they guided me in the best way possible: start at the top and work your way down! haha, dangerous! I started with a signature cocktail, and then a G&T. Everything is beautifully presented and thought out. The G&T was superb. They definitely don't make normal G&T's here, I saw some seriously interesting combinations going out while I sat at the bar. I had some of the snacks, the pork belly and flat bread and that was the perfect amount to keep my stomach going with the drinks I was becoming all too fond of ordering. Now, I'm not sure if it is because of my name, but I have made it somewhat of a life's mission to find the perfect Martini. The Bond that we know (in the form of a suave 007) actually has the whole martini thing wrong. Martini enthusiasts will agree whole heartedly that a martini should be gin and stirred, definitely not vodka & shaken (sorry 007 and the commentator above). Tonic's gin martini was exactly what I had been looking for and what so many get wrong. They even offer you a variety of selected gins to have in your martini and a choice in which way to have it. I will definitely be back!!
"Tonic is the cocktail bar adjacent a very nice little French bistro type restaurant. The two are connected, but I recently visited only the bar area (having eaten at the restaurant some time ago before the bar was split off from the restaurant proper). Firstly, the interior is lovely. Well designed and executed and the ambiance is just what you need after a long day and in need of a drink. Sadly, I have to admit that the G&T I had was not up to scratch even by a long shot. That takes some doing considering a G&T is very difficult to screw up. Firstly, both the gin and the tonic was kept at room temperature, which is fine. But any mixologist worth his tipple knows that with cocktails you need lots of ice. Lots and lots, especially if you're going to chill those room temperature liquids. Serving a G&T in a champagne coup may look fabulous, and it did, so kudos on presentation if a little unconventional for a drink traditionally served in a highball, but three very small cubes of ice will not do the job of chilling the drink. I would therefore suggest they keep their gin the freezer. And with the sheer number of different gins on offer, they'll need a big one. Or change the presentation.
Service was okay, I think they might just be a little unsure of themselves, but with experience this will improve, I'm sure. Overall I applaud the effort, but I do have one more gripe which may or may not be relevant.
So the bar is called Tonic; with lots of different G&Ts on offer. They do have a compact list of gin based cocktails on offer, which does not include a basic bog standard gin martini. Really? And neither the bar tender nor the waitress knew what I was talking about when I asked if they could make me one. It was like being marooned on a desert island with only sea water around you: gin gin everywhere but not a drop to drink as it were, given that the term martini seems to most people to refer to a brand name rather than the most classic of cocktails, and this after how many years of 007? That said, I've not been able to find a decent martini in the whole of Johannesburg. If someone knows of a place to get one, a decent one, let me know please.
So in closing, I'll return to the restaurant. I wont return to the bar, unless they allow me to mix my own drink."