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The only tonic my local grocery stocks, "Vintage", is way too sweet. Can anyone out there recommend a brand that is not so disgusting, i.e. not sweet?

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  1. Schwepps is probably the best tonic easily available.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JMF

      Are there other not-so-easy-too-find tonics that you particularly recommend? I am a fan of tonic and other quinine-derived bitter drinks, and definitely willing to seek out good ones.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        I haven't heard about any high end or gourmet tonic waters and I read all the beverage trade journals. They may be out there but I haven't seen them. Schwepps is usually considered the best. Then there's Seagrams, Canada Dry, White Rock, Cantrell, Royal Club, Cunnington, Nordic Mist, Kinley, Krest, Antartica, Finches, Vintage, Sterling, Canfield's, Hansen's, Safeway Select, Albertsons, and other store brands. I haven't tried a taste test, nor have I tried Whole Foods brand. Is it a 365 brand tonic?

        A few years ago I read that Safeway Select beat out Schwepps in a taste test, but if I remember correctly it was a very small sample done by a small paper.

        I once heard that in the 80's and 90's Gin and tonic was one of the drinks of choice in night clubs because the quinine in it glows under UV light.

        I am trying to put a list and do a tasting one day on tonic water to add to my book on Gin/Spirits. In some countries tonic water is called bitter water. There also used to be a product called Indian water, which I think was a tonic water with other flavors added.

        Then of course you have the citrus flavored tonics such as bitter lemon, bitter lime, bitter grapefruit, and bitter orange.

        Many years ago when tonic water was drunk as a actual tonic to prevent malaria it was much, much more bitter since it actually had medicinal levels of quinine in it. A few years ago when I was in Africa on Safari I tasted an old fashioned medicinal tonic water (with gin of course) I actually had to have a chaser of bottled water to unpucker my lips. But it was good, in an excessively bitter way.

    2. Assuming you don't live in an area with blue laws that prevent liquor stores from selling mixers, you might see if your local liquor stores carry Schweppes, which I agree is a good choice that's (usually!) easy to find. If you have a Whole Foods Market in your area, I've tried their house-brand tonic and liked it fairly well; it's made with cane sugar rather than corn syrup.

      1. THe whole foods brand tonic is actually fairly good. not up to schweppes but very good and inexpensive to boot. Only down side they only offer it in my area in can. I prefer the schweppes both for overall flavor and because you can reseal the bottle

        1. I always go with Schweppes.

          1. Schweppes fan here. My only complaint is they don't make the Diet Schweppes in little bottles.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              I have been looking for little bottles of diet tonic water. They sell it at Beverages & More in California. I'm in DC and my hunt continues!

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                Sure they do, buy it all the time at my local grocery store. In fact, have 3 of them sitting under by bar right now. Schweppes it is for the best G&T, oh and some fresh lime from the tree in the back yard,

              2. Polar, a venerable New England regional brand, is wonderful. They now make a diet lime tonic water, which is fantastic. Polar's tonic keeps its effervescence for a long time.

                1. Tanqueray did a promotion with Polar Tonic The reason I noted it at the time was Polar is a New England Regional Soda Maker and this was found in LA.

                  Take Care

                  - P.

                  1. Schweppes is the best I've had, but it is pretty sweet. That's why you need to add gin and ice.

                    1. How hard is it to make yourself? Can you just buy quinine (can you?) and add it to club soda?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Brian Lindauer

                        I was hoping someone would ask this. A local place, Restaurant Eugene here in Atlanta, makes their own. It is delicious - not too sweet. I haven't had time to research it yet, but please let us know if you end up making some.

                      2. A speakeasy-style bar in No Virginia also makes their own tonic water. Does anyone know how to do it?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: vb_lady

                          whatwhatWHAT? I have not been looking hard but in a year I have not found a good bar in NoVA. Whare is this gem?

                        2. could be because there is no sign...

                          I can't vouch, I haven't been here, but Todd Thrashers supposed to be amazing!


                          1. Here is a link to a NYTimes article about gourmet tonic water. We're going to try to find some online for a gin and tonic freak friend.