What is the best tonic water on the market? A question that many of you ask, but it is not an easy question to answer. There are more and more choices of craft mixers and tonics out there, all offering something just a little bit different. How do you decide which to add to your favourite tipple or have on it's own for an alcohol free drink.
When choosing a mixer for your gin, there are a couple of things to consider -
- The strength of the gin - the higher ABV%, in general, the more robust the mixer. A traditional Indian tonic water pairs better than a skinny, light version.
- What botanicals are in the gin - citrus, floral, herbal - tonics now tend to follow a similar pattern and so pairing a citrus gin with a herbal tonic means there are no clashing flavours.
- Experience - use your own experience of what flavours you have tasted and enjoyed in the past. From my experience, I know that rhubarb and ginger work well, elderflower and cucumber and strawberry and basil, to name a few. I know that Hendricks served with an elderflower tonic and a ribbon of cucumber is delicious. Rhubarb gin with either ginger ale or an elderflower tonic is a pleasure to drink. Have a go and see what you think - it's fun to experiment!
Taking these into consideration here are my 12 best tonic waters:
1724 Tonic Water is less bitter in taste than a lot of other tonics. It has orange and mandarin citrus notes, which allows the flavour of the gin to come through. I especially like it served with Sir Robin of Locksley Gin, garnished with a slice of pink grapefruit. This tonic gets its name 1724 as the quinine used has been handpicked 1724 metres on the Inca Trail.
Lamb and Watt Original Tonic Water is a classic style tonic made with Willow Spring mineral water from the Lake District and sweetened with organic blue agave syrup from Mexico, giving a clean crisp taste. The bitterness of the quinine is balanced with sweetness from the blue agave syrup, giving a lightly effervescent tonic which can be enjoyed on it's own over ice or with gin or vodka. I like to pair it with Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin and a wedge of lime to garnish.
Double Dutch, Skinny Tonic Water is a slimline mixer. It has 60% fewer calories than the classic variety. The flavour of the pink grapefruit and juniper berry balance the quinine's crispness and provide a rounded aftertaste. There's nothing skinny about this slimline tonic! I love it served with Eccentric's Madam Geneva Gin and some lime peel for garnish.
Merchant's Heart Tonic Water falls within the citrus category. The bitter quinine taste is followed by a crisp, zesty citrus finish. Pair it with dry and juniper led gins as well as vodka. It also makes the perfect match for any bourbon. I love drinking it with Martin Millers Westbourne Strength and garnish with some frozen strawberries.
Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic Water blends together the taste of quinine, angostura bark, gentle spices and fresh citrus. The South American Angostura bark provides a gentle bitterness with aromatic botanicals such as cardamom, pimento berry and ginger. As you can see, it is rose pink in colour, so if you like your drinks pink - this is the tonic for you! Add to a navy strength gin, I would go for Haymans Royal Dock, and 'Hay Pressto'! you have a Pink Gin cocktail!
Peter Spanton No1 London Tonic has a base note of bitter quinine and a very definite top note of real lemon oil and bitter orange. Although not called a low calorie tonic it does have a low sugar content of 0g per 100g and a total of 0.98kcal per 100g! I drink it with Two Birds London Dry and a traditional wedge of lemon.
Double Dutch, Pomegranate and Basil is a herby mixer. One for those that like their superfoods! The super pomegranate has both sweet and tart flavours, which together with the tannin, makes it a great addition to any cocktail. The basil provides peppery notes, which gives this drink an overall exotic taste. Great drunk on this own over ice or mix with SteamPunk and a crushed basil leaf, if you like it herby!
It will come as no surprise that Luscombe Grapefruit tonic water is classed as a citrus tonic water! The pink grapefruit and Indian quinine infused with natural Devon spring water creates a delicate citrus tonic. Delicious served with Nelson's Rhubarb and Custard Gin with a ribbon of pink grapefruit peel. Another one for the pink gin fans!
Walter Gregor's Spiced Tonic Water is spicy! With spiced aromas and warming flavour of cinnamon, cloves and orange, it makes a great match for fruit gins, Old Toms and other things citrusy! I especially like it with Two Birds Old Tom and a wedge of orange to garnish. If you like the spice, then add some cloves and or cinnamon to your garnish.
This is a great all round tonic water. The natural ingredients produce a crisp tonic with light fizz and a subtle taste of quinine - a safe bet! Drink as a mixer with Cambridge gin and a garnish of lemon verbena.
Fentimans Rose Lemonade, from the floral category of mixers, is made with pure Rose oil from the world-famous Rose Vally in Kazanlak, Bulgaria and the juice of real lemons. This refreshing lemonade with its unique aroma is the perfect serve with gin, vodka, bourbon or just over ice. Delicious with Love gin and some frozen raspberries - perfect valentine's cocktail!
One of the better ginger ales on the market - Fever Tree ginger ale is made by blending three naturally sourced and unique ginger oils from around the world with soft spring water. It has citrus aromas of fresh ginger and distinctive ginger flavours with a clean finish. A mixer for your gin, vodka and other dark spirits, or just on this own. My favourite gin to mix with this ginger ale, is Brockmans, serve with some berries to garnish - blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
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