Say goodbye to cheap grocery store tonic…top shelf tonic waters have arrived and are taking your usual Gin and Tonic to the next level. No more high fructose corn syrup fizz in a can, these waters come packaged in designer bottles with fancy ingredients. It’s funny that I sit here writing this post because I usually stick to wine, but I was prompted to write about this for a couple reasons. I was sitting down with a quick snack before heading over to my in-laws for a Father’s Day dinner when I pulled out my new Cooks Illustrated and was intrigued by an article written about Fever Tree Tonic Water. Being that I’m not a connoisseur of tonic waters, I had no idea what a variety of tastes they can impart on a very simple refreshing summer drink. I finished the article and we headed over to B’s parent’s house. When we arrived, I was surprised to find that Gloria had prepared a gin and tonic bar with 3 different artisan tonic waters to try. Wasn’t I just reading about this? We had samples of all three tonic waters before choosing our tonic of choice and the differences are quite remarkable. Rather than dilute your spirits with corn syrup and artificial flavoring, enhance them with one of these three artisan tonics.
Q Tonic Water: Packed in a sleek, rounded bottle, this one was incredibly refreshing, boasting all natural ingredients including hand picked quinine, organic agave, and 60% fewer calories than regular tonic water (and tastes better too!) This tonic was not overly sweet with the right hint of sharpness. Agave gives it a hint of sweetness without that horrible overpowering syrup that collects in the bottom of your glass. Available at Fancy grocers (Whole Foods, Kowalskis) and liquor stores (France 44, Surdyks)
Fentiman’s Tonic Water: Want a burst of flavor unlike anything you’ve had in your typical Gin and Tonic? Then this is the tonic for you. Crafters of botanically brewed beverages such as ginger beer, rose lemonade and curiosity cola, their tonic water has a blast of flavor as well. This lively tonic comes packaged in an old fashioned beer style bottle. When I first took a sip of this one, I was pretty much taken aback by the amount of flavor packed into it. It is much more pronounced than the other two we sampled. As B put it, it’s great to have on special occasions, but one would probably be enough flavor for the day. So if you’re looking for a big flavor, this is it!
Fever Tree Tonic Water: This is the one I was reading about in my Cooks Illustrated. Fever Tree is all natural made with high quality ingredients. This was B’s pick, he liked it best and I have to say I agree. It had the perfect amount of sweetness balanced out by a hint of citrus and bitterness. It has the lightest and most refreshing flavor out of three tonics we tried. I really liked the all natural citrus taste that Fever Tree gives off. It was easy to drink and tastes great on its own. Described as “champagne style carbonation,” it manages to keep its bubbles longer than most tonic waters as well.
A gin and tonic bar is a fun alternative to a wine bar or traditional cocktail bar. Throw a few of the personal sized bottles on ice along with a variety of gins, and let guests mix and match to find their perfect cocktail!