We think it’s worth celebrating; an outstanding collection of tonic waters and mixers by New Zealand company East Imperial were recently launched in Australia. Inspired by a 1903 East African recipe, East Imperial products are an exceptional experience both standalone and paired with your favourite light or dark premium spirit.
Kiwis and global cocktail connoisseurs have loved East Imperial for almost a decade, it is served in some of the finest bars, restaurants and hotels globally, including Atlas in Singapore, one of the top 4 bars in the world, and at the Faena Hotel, Miami Beach, Voted #1 Best Hotel Conde Nast Traveler 2020 Readers’Readers’ Choice Awards. In 2019, East Imperial was recognised as the third Top Trending Brand and third Top Selling Tonic Water Brand globally, as voted by the World’sWorld’s Top 50 Bars and over 100 bar figures.
The following is our review of a select range of products, presenting detailed flavour profiles that confirm the brand as a true leader in the mixology world.
The Old World Tonic is an unsweetened, subtle dry tonic with gentle tannic elements. It’s exceptionally soft in approach and refreshing on its own. Given its simplicity, it pairs remarkably well with herbaceous and fruit flavoured gins, elegantly extending the chord and notes of the gin’s overall flavour profile.
For those that cannot stand commercial, overly sweetened lemonade, this one’s for you – it’s a cracker. Fresh, lively and acidic, this Yuzu lemonade is made from Japanese citrus Yuzu, smaller than but similar in appearance to grapefruit; its flavour is somewhere between Meyer lemon and grapefruit, or sometimes with a sweeter, almost mandarine depth. The lemonade has an instant tangy appeal and lovely summery freshness— an excellent addition for a creative mixologist or home cocktail lover.
East Imperial explains that their Kima Cola features an aromatic blend of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, balanced perfectly with Madagascan vanilla and that its flavour is vibrant and citric, but we beg to differ.
For us, the flavour profile lacks punch and a sense of exotic authenticity. And while it’s also made with honey and cane sugar, it’s far from sweet, which is a great thing – we have longed for a lightly-sweetened cola as a mixer for rum and Bourbon. It’s a subtlely flavoured drink but perhaps, nothing to write home about.
Unlike the Old World Tonic, the East Imperial Tonic Water is closer to modern tonic water, with more lemon citrus flavours, and features Thai lemongrass and Manao Lime. In addition, East Imperial claims that the water has the highest quinine levels available on the market – just the ticket to help treat a tropical malaria case! The recommended match is citrus-driven gins and London dry styles.
Yuzu is one of my favourite citrus fruits, primarily due to its sharp sourness weighted with a rounder depth of flavour. When combined with East Imperial’s base tonic water, the combination is well designed to add a bright citrus note to your favourite cocktail. East Imperials’ description of the product describes it as a ‘robust citrus bomb’ with ‘the yuzu zest playing hero alongside the bitterness of quinine. The finish is like sherbet – tangy, funky, floral and refreshing. A must-have tonic for new-world cocktails – it’s a cracker!
East Imperials Grapefruit Soda is less sweet than other commercial brands like many in the range. A lightly sparkling soda made with pink grapefruit, there’s a thirst-quenching appeal that makes it enjoyable to drink on its own. It’s full-bodied and fresh, with a floral hint on the palate. East Imperial suggest it’s the perfect complement to your favourite premium rum or tequila.
East Imperial tonic waters are now available in Australia at Dan Murphy’s outlets; otherwise, purchase directly online. eastimperial.com