Espresso & Tonic with Salted Cream

November 11, 2021
Espresso & Tonic with Salted Cream
popuring espresso into glass of tonic


The Espresso & Tonic is a cold coffee drink that feels indulgent, while still being simplistic in it’s ingredients. A true expression of the saying greater than the sum of it’s parts. It is lovely sipped in the afternoon as a pick-me-up treat to get through the rest of the days work tasks or over a long brunch. Espresso topped with tonic is widely and wildly consumed in European cafes ( reported to have been first whipped up by the owner of Koppi Roasters). It has been embraced by baristas and coffee aficionados here in the US in the past 6 years or so.

Although it’s few and far between that I see it on a cafe menu in the States, I have asked for it and been reward a few times with this effervescent coffee drink. It’s a secret menu order of sorts. Topping with salted cream is an addition I made with some leftover cream for a cocktail. As you can probably guess, this would serve as a great template for a coffee cocktail! An ounce or 2 of a barrel aged spirit or liqueur added in would be delicious, but drinking it on it’s own is just and enjoyable. The Espresso & Tonic with salted cream is simply a creamy, caffeinated quinine delight.

Espresso & Tonic with salted cream


I used Q Tonic here which I find to be slightly more effervescent than other brands, but I change out the tonic depending on my mood or the coffee beans being used. Although you can use any tonic containing real quinine (put down the plastic 2 liter), selecting one that pairs with the coffee profile will yield a particular piquant drink. Fever Tree has varying flavors of tonics like herbal Mediterranean and lemon while other brands can be sweeter or less so. Brew some espresso ( I am using Red Bay Coffee’s Carver’s Dream) or grab some from a coffee shop and think about the flavors coming through as you sip. Is there more chocolate or nuts coming through? Maybe caramel or zesty fruit notes are apparent. Go from there for selecting the perfect tonic to pair. But sometimes when you are making a drink, especially coffee, you don’t want to think to much about it so you can also just use what ever you have on hand. I am all about use what you have!

Pouribf tonic into a crystal cut glass
Espresso & Tonic with salted cream
Espresso & Tonic with salted cream


Adding salted, slightly whipped takes it to another level. The pinch of salt cuts through the fattiness of the cream and helps tie it into the tonic water. Lightly whipping the cream allows it to incorporate into a drink more easily as you sip it, vs. staying elevated on top leaving a clump of cream at the end of the drink as with heavy whipped cream. I used a hand whipper to achieve the light whip, but you can also shake the cream in a mason jar or cocktail shaker for a half minute to get the consistency. For those who do not partake in dairy, whipped coconut cream would also work in place of the cream here.

Pairing candied citrus peel with espresso is something I got an appreciation for at the late cafe 20th Century Cafe in San Francisco. Michelle the owner would pair shot of espresso with a sugary, translucent orange peel balanced on the vintage saucer, it the was a perfect palate cleanser after bitter espresso. The Espresso & Tonic with Salted Cream ticks all the boxes for me: effervescent, bitter, sweet, citrusy and creamy.

Espresso & Tonic with salted cream
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Espresso & Tonic with salted cream

Espresso & Tonic with Salted Cream

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  • Author: Ashley Rose Conway
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x
  • Category: drinks


A bubbly coffee drink that hits the spot for an afternoon pick-me-up both effervescent, bitter, sweet and creamy.


  • 56 oz tonic water, I used Q Tonic
  • 2 oz espresso (double shot), I used Red Bay Coffee’s Carver’s Dream
  • 3/4oz– 1 oz salted & sweetened lightly whipped cream
  • optional: candied orange peel


  1. Add tonic water to a glass filled with ice.
  2. Add Espresso over top.
  3. Slowly pour in whipped cream.
  4. Garnish with orange candy peel.


Fresh espresso is best, but you can use coffee from a mocha pot or even cold brew. Use what you have!

I used a small amount of Luxardo cherry syrup in the glass one time and it was a great addition. Add a tsp of your favorite flavored syrup if you’d like!

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