FIG. Gin Joint. Husk. The Belmont. And, soon, The Cocktail Club on Upper King.

Charleston, welcome to the Cocktail Movement.

The romanticism is hard to resist: Stepping out of the warm sun into a firm seat at a mahogany bar, the authoritative scoop and shake of the ice, the skilled pour of spirits, the smooth cascade into the coolheaded martini glass, all with a musicality and concentration that something is being created, just for you, at that very moment.

Now add Jack Rudy’s Artisan Tonic. And enter a new stratosphere.

Brooks Reitz is the co-founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail, Co., but you’ve met him before. He has been the manager for over two years at FIG, where he first introduced his handcrafted tonic to The Holy City. In that time, he and his liquid invention have received overwhelming praise from its recipe-begging drinkers. So much so that Reitz teamed up with colleague and business savoir-faire Matt Burt to conceptualize their new venture, named in honor of Reitz’ great-grandfather.

That was last August. Since then, these visionaries have seen nothing but growth. They not only bested their fundraising goal on less than six weeks ago, but now are bottling and distributing Reitz’ Artisan Tonic to Husk and soon to Rajat Parr’s James Beard Award-winning RN-74 in San Francisco (as well as to another major—but secret—big-wig in NYC).

With bi-coastal success in less than two months of launching, JRCC has the potential to be a game-changer in the cocktail industry.

“There was not a cocktail movement in Charleston two years ago,” Reitz says. “Jack Rudy is on the cusp of this. I’ve been dedicated to fine-tuning this craft-mixer for four years.”

But why bother? What’s so wrong with the tonic from a gun? You guessed it: A lot. Schweppes, the product in most bar soda guns, has no wholesome elements: It’s clear from bleach, loaded with artificial flavoring and corrupts, rather than encourages, the natural deliciousness of the drink’s other flavors.

“Jack Rudy’s tonic is full of recognizable and simple ingredients: water, sugar, all spice, zest, white peppers…and a few other secret additions,” Reitz shares. “It empowers and uplifts the natural layers of a cocktail.”

When he pitted his concoction against the common tonic, tasters were forever changed by the dramatic difference in quality. It won’t be long before Schweppes is headed back to Germany hanging its high-fructose-corn-syrup-head low.

Reitz and Burt sell their craft-mixers—including their upcoming Grenadine and Aloe Syrup blends–in 16-ounce apothecary-style bottles for $20. But, as Reitz assures us, “You’re paying for the exclusivity, the details and the love.” While they will soon be available in local stores, right now, you order through the boys.

With glimpses of toasty summer days in view, we’ll soon see more barflies lifting refreshing Gin and Tonics to their lips. Jack Rudy’s Artisan Tonic Syrup is a renaissance with this Southern staple at heart, creating a celebration of the senses.

Just as our cocktail forefathers intended.

Story by: Jessica Kenny

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