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A good gin and tonic

A good gin and tonic can be a very good thing as temps test three digits.

Deb dragged me to Whole Foods awhile back. My single purchase was a bottle of tonic water: Q Tonic to be precise. They claim to use purified water, organic agave, natural bitters (whatever that means), handpicked quinine and lemon juice extract. The wine-shaped bottle's content was mildly effervescent when I unscrewed the cap.

I piled ice into a pint glass, added two jiggers of Tanqueray Gin then filled with the Q. I added a squirt of fresh lime.

It was a good gin and tonic. Pity I was out of Bombay. Maybe next time.

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  1. You missed a bet. Whole Foods' 365+ bouse brand makes a tonic that tastes better than Q (and is every bit as natural) at the much better price of 6 12-oz cans for about $2.49.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

      In what way did you find 365 > Q?

      I admit that I didn't have them side-by-side, but think I liked Q a bit better, while 365 is a great value. Q was also less sweet, as I recall, requiring less citrus and contributing fewer calories.

      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

      1. re: EvergreenDan

        Oddly, I have the exact opposite sense: I find Q sweeter than 365.

        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

          You may well be right -- I never sampled them side-by-side. I was struck with how much less sweet Q is. Then I later tried a 6-pack of 365, so there could be an experimental order error.

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            It could just be me, but my experience is that I find things sweetened with agave a bit too sweet for my tastes.

            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

              There is that with Q. My thinking now is that it's a tad too sweet for the stifling heat/humidity currently enveloping my part of the country.

              My favorite g&t was in a bar in Singapore. The gin was Bombay and served in a glass, the tonic was herb-like (bitter), a direct descendant of its medicinal forbearers, and served on the side. Heat and humidity there was the same as every day in Singapore (they have no seasons). Air conditioning was an overhead fan. It was a tasty and purposeful drink.

    2. Bombay gin plus Fever Tree tonic with a squeeze of lime makes the best G&T on earth -- perfect in this torrid weather.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pikawicca

        If you like Gin and Tonics, and enjoy the bitter aspect of the drink, I am very pleased with this:

        by Dan Chadwick, Kindred Cocktails

        1 1/2 oz Aperol (or Campari, plus)
        1/2 oz Lime juice (frozen into a cube)
        1 1/2 oz Gin
        1/4 oz Lime juice
        1 1/2 oz Tonic water (chilled)

        In advance, freeze Aperol and 1/2oz lime juice. Shake gin and 1/4oz lime juice, strain into lowball glass, add tonic, stir gently, add cube, serve with straw or spoon for imbiber to use to break up cube.

        Starts as a straightforward Gin and Tonic, but the bitter orange flavor evolves. Sunny and fun.

        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

      2. There's much discussion available on gin, I would love to hear a little more on tonic. Schweppes (how do you spell it?) vs Canada Dry vs Polar or store brand vs the various boutique brands, none of which I've tried. Anyone have strong opinions? I love a good G&T. Can you tell me why I should spring for Fever Tree or Q, how they differ from the mass market brands?

        14 Replies
        1. re: hink

          I first tried Fever Tree a few months ago and I won't go back to the traditional brands. The quinine flavor is so pronounced you will notice it immediately. And it isn't noticeably over-sweet. It changes the drink as you know it. Same for their bitter lemon. I don't get why their club soda is the same price, though, as there's no pricey ingredients in club soda. Q is more expensive still but I haven't tried it.

          1. re: Veggo

            I have heard that their ginger beer is also in a different class than the traditional brands. I would like to try it but have a hard time paying $6 for a 4 pack of 6.8 oz bottles.

            I had heard really good things about the 360 brand of tonic water at Whole foods, but found the quinine flavor somewhat tamer than expected..

            1. re: ncyankee101

              I found the Whole Foods tonic to be shockingly sweet- it goes really well with unsweetened cranberry juice, but I don't like it in a G&T. I think it has more sugar than Schweppes.

              1. re: Veggo

                I tried FT's Bitter Lemon with gin recently and am hooked. I added a sprig of mint to my glass and it was perfection.

                I'd be inclined to try their tonic too, but they're both damn pricey.

                1. re: Veggo

                  I bought a pack of their club soda - compared to Canada Dry or Schwepps Seltzer Water it is pretty much the same thing, maybe smaller bubbles that is about it - certainly not worth the price

                  1. re: Veggo

                    I like Stirrings tonic as well, for another top shelf tonic.

                  2. re: hink

                    You may find this post interesting:


                    Personally, I've enjoyed both Fever Tree and Q (which I find the cleanest and freshest of the lot) but the price is high and at the end even the boutique brands are too sweet for me. I liked the carbonation of Q better as well (fever tree seemed a bit flat), but Q is also the most expensive of all of these. I just want that quinine bite maybe a touch of citrus/lemongrass and the faintest hint of sweetness. For years this is why I always just drank gin and soda (or Perrier if I was at home) but now that I'm back into tonic I can appreciate the quinine bit and the citrus that it adds to the drink.

                    I'm currently on the lookout for Cinchona bark and look forward to making my own per this recipe:


                    1. re: Klunco

                      While they mention it, but don't take it fully in to account, the tasters were used to sweet and simple tonics. Once you have had homemade tonic syrup with all its wonderful complexity, drinking the major brands is boring. Fever Tree, Fentimans, are my favoite high end tonics. But my own is great.

                      Try pennherb.com for cinchona bark. get cut, do NOT get ground. Horrible to filter it out.

                      1. re: JMF

                        Thanks for the link JMF, just ordered some cut cinchona bark along with gentian and wormwood for other experiments.

                        Would you mind sharing your current recipe?

                          1. re: roundfigure

                            Morgenthaler's recipe is where I started from when playing with tonic syrup.

                            1. re: JMF

                              Follow up: I made this this weekend and it's delicious. Much cheaper than the expensive brands and better imo. When you first taste it it's refreshing, sour, slightly funky/spicy, and instead of finishing flat or sickly sweet, it finishes with a wonderful bitterness. I am officially done with store bought tonic.

                              I added coriander seeds in addition to allspice. Next time I want to up the amount of lemongrass.

                      2. re: Klunco

                        I was actually thinking of posting that article here and asking what people thought. JMF's response was pretty much what I expected.

                    2. Here's some related musings from a few years ago: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609187

                      1. I'll have to try this "Q"....been using half club soda, half schweppes tonic because I find it too sweet

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                          I learned way back when I worked for Cott Beverages ( near your 'hood, BB) that tonic water contains more sweetener than all other sodas and is consequently the most expensive to produce, because quinine is THAT bitter. But you are right, some over-do it. Try a splurge on the Fever Tree for 5 bucks. I can't see paying $8 for the little bottles of Q.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            YES! The Fever Tree is so much better than the mass market brands. Bought a 4 pack of small bottles yesterday afternoon, and enjoyed a cool G&T with olive tortilla chips on the patio of Rancho Biscuitboy. Good call, V Man!

                            1. re: Veggo

                              If you worked for Cott, then you must be familiar with Yacht Club in North Providence. Great Tonic made from their own spring and syrup receipe

                          2. Fever Tree is the sine que non of tonics, IMO, it's just amazing. That said, I usually just use Schweppes which is good enough for everyday drinking.

                            I highly reccommend Sipsmith gin if you haven't tried it already.

                            1. My preferred G&T ratio is about 50:50 gin to tonic. For this reason the tonic is a bit of an afterthought or at least not of paramount importance. I find Canada Dry the best of the major brands, and it's my go-to. I've never bothered to branch out into the boutique brands. For the Gin, I like the assertiveness of Gordon's, but I wouldn't use it in any other cocktail. No greater than three ice cubes. AND ALWAYS GARNISH WITH A LEMON, NOT A LIME.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Fozzie_Bear

                                Why do you prefer lemon?

                                I like a lot of lime in mine to balance the sugar and reinforce the bitterness of the tonic.

                                www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                  The lime seems a bit too bitter for me. I think the primary role of the citrus is to bring "sour" to the party rather than bitter (which a good tonic should do). In this respect, a lemon seems more efficient. Also a lemon seems more "classic" somehow.

                                  1. re: Fozzie_Bear

                                    As the old link I posted above demonstrates, 50-50, or even 60-40, is my preferred blend. Nevertheless, until you have tried a drink with better than average gin (Say, even Bluecoat or Junipiero - though I am a fan of Gordan's) and a high end tonic like Q or Stirlings, don't be so sure to dismiss its value. Even at 8 bucks a 4 pack, they are thoroughly worth the indulgence once in a while.

                                2. re: Fozzie_Bear

                                  I don't really understand the reasoning here... if 50% of your drink is tonic, it seems to me it's pretty important that it taste good since it's literally half of what you're drinking.

                                  1. re: monopod

                                    I guess because most G&T's are predominantly tonic--more like 3:1 or 2:1 in favor of tonic. This is not to say that the tonic component isn't important--it's just that I can't justify spending more for a boutique brand when Canada Dry seems to do the trick.

                                3. It's hot as blazes in Boston right now.

                                  2 oz gin
                                  2 oz Cynar
                                  1/2 oz lime juice
                                  about 1 oz tonic to top

                                  Build over ice.


                                  1. Do you all refrigerate your tonic water? Or is the ice dilution preferable for you? I refrigerate the bottle once opened, but I haven't paid attention to the differences between the room temperature and chilled G&Ts.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tinnywatty

                                      I refrigerate mine, I find it goes flat too quickly if I try to use it warm.

                                    2. I'm a huge fan of John's Premium tonic syrup. It's fantastic stuff and has received write ups in the WSJ and more recently,Saveur. The syrup is avaiable online, although I believe there is a slight wait right now due to increased demand. Luckily, I live in Phoenix part time and the restaurant he runs is only about a mile away.