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Mar 23, 2007 09:42 AM

Best "T" for a G&T?

I've been reading reviews of everyones favorite gin brands, and
got to wondering what kind of tonic water are your favorites?
I try to find ones without the dreaded HFCS as a sweetener,
Schweppes is good, but I have to wonder if there's something
better. I'd especially like to hear from folks across the pond.

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  1. I like soda water with good gins. Sometimes the tonic overpowers the subtleties. The soda just cuts it a little and with a twist of lime it can be perfect.

    1. Personally I like water or seltzer with my gin. If I am having a G&T I like Schweppes as my regular, easy to get tonic water.

      I am in the process of doing articles and reviews of high end and premium tonic waters. I would love to hear about other high end and premium tonic waters besides the ones listed below.

      There are very few premium tonic waters available right now, but by this time next year there will be a few more. Several are being worked on in pre-production right now. I will post a link here to my review / article which will be some time soon. I just have to get over the flu.

      Premium tonic water

      Fever Tree from the UK is just becoming available in the US. I got a shipment of samples this week and I have several bottles chilling to review right now. They are sweetened with cane sugar.

      Q Tonic will be available in the US around the end of May. The final product is ready and just waiting for labeling. I have several bottles of the final test batch waiting to try side by side with the first production batch. It is sweetened with agave syrup.

      Stirrings is supposed to be good. I have some samples chilling. It uses sugar (I'm not sure whether it's cane or beet)

      High end tonic water

      Hansens tonic water is ok but nothing special. It is a bit expensive and uses HFCS. I have samples chilling and will review them.

      Whole Foods 365 is ok as well. It uses cane sugar. I have samples chilling and will review them.

      7 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        You speak the right language...gin and soda...mmmm.

        1. re: JMF

          This is just a teaser but... Fever Tree is excellent. So is Q Tonic. A tie for first so far. Both are very different from each other. Much more testing is recquired (Hic.. oops) Schweppes comes in second. Stirrings third, Hansens and 365 were boring.

          Fever Tree will; sell for about $6 for a 4 pack of 7 oz bottles. Pricey.

          1. re: JMF

            I have tried both Fever Tree and Q tonic, and they are both great tonics. I really like Jordan's Q Tonic though, looking forward to seeing it more widely available.

            1. re: fafner

              Schweppes by far in my experience and stay away from lite for g*ds sake.

            2. re: JMF

              Still not available where I live, I asked the owner of my local package store
              about both, and all I got was a deer-in-headlights stare. I've tried 365 and
              have to agree it was bland. I like tonic that has a good "bite". Thanks
              for all the info!

              1. re: JMF

                Fever-Tree was just released in the US earlier this month. It is available in California and Arizona from BevMo. It isn't being distributed anywhere else yet.

                Q Tonic won't be released until late May.

                Stirrings is pretty good I just tasted it again today. Not sure where you can get it but check out

                1. re: JMF

                  Another reason no t to buy 365 is they only come in can not resealable bottles

              2. We just did a side by side comparison of Schwepp's and Canada Dry tonic this weekend, with Hendrick's gin.

                The Schwepp's tasted lighter, fresher, and less corn syrup laden. It also had 20 fewer calories per serving, so it probably does have a lot less HFCS in it.

                Whole Foods 365 will be my next try, since I'd like to avoid HFCS. My friend insists the best g&t she's had was in Lisbon. I'm willing to bet they just have better tonic there, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she thinks of cane sugar tonic water instead of corn syrup that we usually get here in the states.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Pei

                  Tried the Whole Foods 365 today, and it's now my go-to tonic!

                  The difference between cane sugar and corn syrup is incredible. Now, my gin and tonic is light, sparkly, and dances across my palate instead of just sitting heavily on the tongue like soda.

                  Now I'm going to be on the lookout for different brands of tonic water that use cane sugar!

                  1. re: Pei

                    Cane sugar really does make a big difference.

                    1. re: Pei

                      Where I live in Austin, there aren't that many choices. Schweppes is the best you can get here. I haven't tried the WF 365 tonic. I was totally unaware that they carried any. I went into the local Whole Foods on the way home to grab a quick bottle a few years back and they didn't have any. I asked one the team members, and he told me that they don't carry it in an "of course not" type of tone that one might use when one's kid asks if they can wear flip-flops to a wedding. I asked why, I was told because it contains quinine which is a drug. When I tried to educate him on where quinine comes from, and that it is just as natural as many of the homeopathic products sold there, I just got a blank stare.
                      I was in the UK earlier this year and noticed that the Schweppes was noticably sweeter there. They also serve you in most instances a glass with much less ice, gin and a separate small bottle of Tonic water on the side, but I regress.
                      On a somewhat related note, is anyone able to find something similar to Schweppes' Bitter Lemon? The liquor store guy told me they no longer make it.

                      1. re: TroyTempest

                        Bitter lemon is still made, have him check with his local Seven up distributor. Here in the bay area BevMo sells it but gets it shipped in from the bottling plant in Sacramento. You can get it online through them but shipping eats you alive.

                        They're also stocking Fever Tree bitter lemon and tonic water, I've tried the bitter lemon and aside from being four time as expensive per serving I found it unremarkable, wifey felt the same. I have a four pack of the tonic to try, wifey and I both like the more bitter "Indian Tonic" sold by Schweppes across the pond. I'm sad to hear they've sweetened it up.

                  2. I just picked up a magazine called 'Imbibe" off of a newsstand the other day; it contained a recipe for making a tonic syrup at home that you top up with soda. Has anyone tried to do this? I figure it's the best way to insure that you are getting exactly what you want in a tonic water.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: JMF

                        I have an older issue of Imbibe somewhere that had a recipe for Limoncello and some other cool things...must have tonic recipe!

                    1. 4 cups Water
                      3 cups cane sugar
                      3 tbsp quinine (powdered cinchona bark)
                      6 tbsp powdered citric acid
                      3 limes zested and juiced
                      3 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped

                      bring sugar and water to a boil, turn heat down to low, add other ingredients, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, cool and filter through cheesecloth or coffee filters.

                      4 Replies
                        1. re: Pei

                          The article suggested a health food store.

                        2. re: negronilover

                          The problem with the recipe is that cinchona bark is not water soluble. It is much better to let the powder soak in 1/2 cup of neutral spirits first to hydrate, then add that paste back to the other mix. It extracts much more of the flavor.

                          1. re: negronilover

                            I would advise against this recipe in the strongest possible way if you do even moderate travel to areas of the world where malaria is endemic. The results have the potential to become deadly, as repeated over-time exposure to quinine can hypersensitize the body to the P. Falciparum infected red blood cells and may cause another disease entirely, called blackwater fever.

                            While rare, since quinine is no longer the primary treatment for malaria, why risk death when there are other T's just as good. Again, I'd only worry about it if you have, or plan on being in an area that has, malaria present.