Simplicity is king in this 2-ingredient espresso drink. Like other classic twofer drinks, think whiskey soda, gin and tonic, rum and coke, the espresso tonic is exactly what it sounds like—a simple combination of espresso and tonic water. This simple combo does what every great twofer drink does—strikes a balance between bitter, sweet and refreshing.
What is an Espresso Tonic?
Most commonly known as an Espresso Tonic, this drink can also be referred to as Coffee Tonic or Kaffe and Tonic. An espresso tonic is a two-ingredient bubbly iced coffee that’s butter and slightly sweet. It was first developed in 2007 in Oslo and soon after made its way onto a menu at Koppi Roasters in Helsingborg, Sweden. From there the rest is kind of history, the drink quickly spread (through barista competitions) to large coffee-fanatic cities like San Francisco, New York and New Orleans, to name a few.
The original drink was actually made with three ingredients—single origin espresso, tonic water and a splash of simple syrup. But the beautiful thing about this drink is that it can be riffed on any which way. Skip the simple syrup for an iced americano vibe or lean into sweetness and add simple syrup or another liquid sweetener. You can also add a splash of fresh citrus juice for even more nuance.
Ingredients Needed to Make an Espresso Tonic
Espresso: you’ll need 2 ounces of espresso (a double shot). Use any espresso you like. If you don’t have an espresso machine, run by your closest coffee shop and have them make you one. You can also use a portable espresso maker or use a bialetti (Moka Pot) or even a French Press.
Tonic Water: you’ll need 6 to 8 ounces per drink. Use any tonic water you like! We like Fever Tree or Q Classic Tonic.
Optional flavorings: if you prefer a sweeter coffee drink, you can add a splash of simple syrup, maple syrup or agave. We recommend mixing it with the hot espresso prior to chilling the espresso. This is the easiest no-fuss, no-mess method. Then feel free to finish the drink with a splash of lemon, lime or orange juice plus a wedge for garnish.
How to Make an Espresso Tonic
- Brew a double shot of espresso.
- Add sweetener to espresso (if using) and chill either in the refrigerator, freezer or with an ice cube.
- Fill a tall glass (collins glass) with ice. Pour in tonic water.
- Slowly pour chilled espresso over tonic water, finish with a squeeze of citrus (if using) and enjoy.
Tips for Making the Perfect Espresso Tonic
- Make sure the tonic water and the espresso are properly chilled! If they aren’t the entire drink will get watered down quickly.
- If you’re adding sweetener, mix it with the hot espresso before chilling the espresso. This makes it easier to mix the sweetener into the drink without losing the beautiful layering.
- Add the tonic water first, followed by the espresso to avoid any over-fizzing and mess.
- Tonic water is best used right after opening as it loses it’s fizz over time. So open just as much as you nee (which is why we like cans instead of bottles).
Difference Between Tonic and Club Soda
Both tonic water and club soda are carbonated beverages often used as mixers for cocktails. Tonic water has a distinct bitter taste due to the presence of quinine and is slightly sweet. Since tonic water does have added sugar, it adds calories to any drink it’s used in.
Club soda on the other hand, has a slightly salty taste but is otherwise flavorless. It does not have any added sugar and is calorie-free. Tonic water is typically used in gin and tonic cocktails, while club soda is a popular choice for mixed drinks like whiskey highballs. In terms of their nutritional content, both tonic water and club soda are low in calories and sugar, but tonic water may contain more sodium and quinine than club soda.
How to Sweeten Espresso Tonic
To sweeten an espresso tonic, use a liquid sweetener such as a simple syrup, maple syrup or agave. Add it to the hot espresso (prior to chilling the espresso) to ensure it mixes into the drink smoothly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! Since concentrate is strong, we recommend with starting with 1 ounce and adding additional to taste.
You’re either thinking of an espresso soda (espresso and club soda), a Spritzy Americano (5 oz. of seltzer water, 2 oz. of espresso, and 2 oz. fresh orange juice) or a side car (a double shot of espresso served with cold club soda on the side).
It’s pronounced “uh-spreh-sow.” So espresso—no X.
More Espresso & Coffee Recipes
Our frothy Pistachio Latte is a true delight. So much flavor and so dang creamy.
Or make a simple Maple Latte—perfect for fall!
Learn how to make the perfect cup of Chemex Coffee and pair it with a slice of our Sweet Potato Coffee Cake.
Espresso Tonic Recipe
- 2 ounces (double shot) freshly brewed espresso
- 6–8 ounces tonic water, chilled
- simple syrup, maple syrup or agave, optional
- orange, lime or lemon wedges, optional
- Brew espresso. Add sweetener to espresso, if using. Allow espresso to cool (either pop in fridge, freezer or chill down with ice).
- Fill a tall glass (collins glass) with ice. Pour tonic over ice then pour chilled espresso over tonic.
- Finish with a squeeze of citrus, if using and enjoy.