Articles Tagged: Tonic Water Reviews

Top 10s

Top 10 Tonic Waters

Navy Strength Gin and Tonic

Since our last update in 2012, we’ve reviewed a  lot more Tonic waters and syrups. Being one of our most popular features (ever) written, we felt it time to update based on several years of additional research. As always, you can check out our entire tonic review archive and search for your personal favorites.

A couple of quick considerations and notes: The list does not correspond directly with our star ratings (though there are many highly rated tonics on here). It instead looks at a tonic and how well it works in a wide range of G&T’s. It’s a guideline for what might be the most versatile, general recommendation. For those looking for something more specific, there are lots of excellent tonics that don’t appear here, even though we love them.

Also, tonic waters and syrups appear side by side on this year’s list, though we may break them out in the future. I’m curious to hear what you think, do you consider tonic waters and syrups side by side? Or are they their own thing? Let me know in the comments. Without further ado, here’s your top 10 for 2015.

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Tonic Water

1724 Tonic Water

1724 tonic

I loved Tonic Water. Almost as much as I love gin. Only almost.

And for a man who loves tonic water, one of the saddest parties that I feel like I’m missing out on is the Tonic explosion of Europe, Spain in particular. A beverage which here in the states most are willing to accept as a plastic bottles, saccharine sweet and pretty much absent of any bitterness, is seeing a vast expansion overseas of artisan care, attention to ingredients and importantly, how the end result mixes with vodka, other spirits, but most importantly gin. Of course when the fine folks who distribute 1724 offered to send me a sample, I graciously accepted. And have since been at work diligently putting it to work with my vast stocks of gin. So how is 1724 tonic? Can it live up to the hype?

Tasting Notes

Starts very clean, crisp and refreshing almost nothing: a touch of effervescence. Nice character because this is exactly where your gin shines brightest. It really allows a gin to come through strongly on the first taste, and the tonic comes in second, mellowing and offsetting: the sweetness builds in the middle.

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Tonic Water

Haber’s Tonic Syrup

habers tonic bottle

While strolling a local street festival this past summer I stumbled upon Haber’s tonic. Imagine my surprise, walking a festival where the only things I expect to find are cheap socks and $20 1000 threat count sheets, and perhaps more than one stand of burned CDs and no fewer than 3 or 4 folks selling lemonade and grilled corn- I found something new, and oddly enough for me walking at a street festival: something I actually wanted.

Even more exciting for me as a proud resident of Astoria, it is made locally. Naturally, this is perhaps the most exciting street fair find of the year for me. For my wife, her favorite find might have been the free sunglasses from Seamless. But that’s another story.

Haber’s tonic syrup is an amber golden brown, with even a hint of something reddish in there. Visually brighter than other tonic syrups and very opaque.

Flavorwise, it’s quite sweet, a good deal of citrus on the mid-notes, and the finish has a mild amount of quinine and some ginger- maybe even a touch of lemongrass on the finish. It tastes zesty and fresh, very bright.

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Tonic Water

Strong Tonic

strong-tonic-bottle

I can’t get enough tonic syrup. This is  by far the best trend to hit gin since gin became cool again.

Straight out of Oklahoma City.

I know, you probably didn’t think of Oklahoma as a hot bed of cocktail incubation. But this is what I love about the craft spirits thing. It’s everywhere. Really. This isn’t just a New York thing. Or a Seattle thing. This thing is going on everywhere. So although Oklahoma doesn’t have a gin yet [do you hear me Oklahomans? I’m anxiously awaiting. Call me!] our nation’s 46th state is contributing to the gin revolution in this country.

Okay, enough with the history you say! How does it taste?

So! How does it Taste? I’m going to reverse things up a bit here and talk a little about how it mixes first.

Strong Tonic advocates a recipe for G&T as followed:

    3 parts soda water 2 parts gin 1 part tonic syrup garnish with citrus

I found this to be an effective and quite good ratio. When mixed with gin, the initial thoughts were a “tad fruity,” “christmas and holiday spices,” “remarkably different than other tonic syrups.”

It makes a good G&T, a tad more sweet than other tonic syrups by volume hence the ratio above.

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Tonic Water

Gold Emblem Tonic Water

tonic-water-gold-emblem

The first mistake you can make as a summer gin and tonic drinker is to assume that just because it comes in a plastic jug with a gold label- that it tastes the same. Or at least like every other brand that seems to come in a plastic bottle with a gold label.

They’re not all created equal. In fact, there can be some quite significant flavor variations among them. Some are super sweet. Some emphasize the quinine. Some are cloying and fake. Others are pretty decent.

Gold Emblem tonic is the store brand for the drug store CVS. Sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, its ingredient list doesn’t look too different from most plastic tonics.

The taste is a lot more subtle and scaled back than other tonics. Mildly sweet and only moderately fizzy the flavor is quiet. The requisite bitterness and quinine touch comes at the end, only subtle. It has a slightly acidic, almost citrusy tang too. Slightly lemon, but not discrete. It has that dry flavor, but not much of the quinine flavor. In fact, although it doesn’t have too much flavor, it does differentiate itself from a club soda, but not by much.

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Tonic Water

Mixer Tonic Water [Sam’s Choice, a.k.a. WalMart Store Brand]

mixer-tonic-water

Another store brand tonic water you say?! Aren’t they all the same?

I wouldn’t be reviewing it if they were. There are some quite good ones, such as Whole Foods. And there are the really bad ones, such as Vintage.

Somewhere in the middle of those two is Mixer. It won’t be mistaken for a craft tonic water. But it gets the job done as many of the main brands like Canada Dry or Polar.

Mixer is a little less bitter than other tonic waters, even its American plastic bottle compatriots. Schweppes is probably twice as strong in terms of quinine. That’s not to say there’s none. There’s a hint of it, just a nice bitterness on the closing to compliment the gin.

It’s rather mild compared to other store tonics. Still sweet. The high fructose corn syrup sweetness is in here. Not a lot of depth in terms of flavor.

Sweet, but less sweet than other similar kinds. Bitter, but much less bitter than other similar ones.

I found Mixer tonic water to be a good tool for getting the job done, and at this price point it definitely works.

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Tonic Water

Hansen’s Tonic

hansens-tonic

Hansen’s Tonic comes in the perfect sized can for a really tall Gin and Tonic – so immediately it gets points there. It has an attractive bright appearance, invoking a certain bright “citrusy” feeling right from the outset. This seems appropriate, as Hansen’s tonic has two important points of difference when looking  at its ingredients:

One, sugar instead of corn syrup. This is an important point of difference in the American market where most tonics opt for the high fructose corn syrup and the syrupy taste it imparts. Sugar is a little bit sharper, but equally as sweet.

Two, it adds citrus extracts right into the tonic syrup. This makes it somewhat palatable on its own, more akin to a bitter, only very slightly orange flavored soda. It’s a nice touch,  but not one which really makes or breaks it in a drink.

The citrus does add some nice notes, and helps with a) gins which don’t have strongly citrus notes or b) gins where you might not have added a dash of lemon or lime anyway. But if you’re the kind of person who prefers their gin and tonics without citrus, this might not be the right tonic for you.

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Tonic Water

Extra Frizz Tonica

tua-tonica

Extra Frizz Tonica

Have you ever done a review in the dark before? I’ve been hunting the internet high and low, and I’m not 100% what the brand name of this tonic water is.

I’m only vaguely certain of two things. One, there’s a picture of Italy on the side of the bottle with the Italian flag colored in. I’m pretty certain that this tonic is Italian. Two, It’s tonic. It does have a bit [and not much, but more on that in a moment] of that bitterness that usually hints at the fact something is quinine. That’s where we are.

Our story begins When I walk into the Astoria Euromart with the express purpose of finding a case of this but as luck would have it the only “tonic” that I could find that they didn’t stock in every other grocery store in the states was this one. Extra Tonica. Effervescentement Tua. With a woman licking her lips in a way that seems more eerily sexual than it does delicious. But nevertheless, if it says Tonica on the bottle I will not be deterred.

Our Story Continues The sweetening agent in here is sugar.

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Tonic Water

Top 10 Tonic Waters

Tonic Water

This is something we’ve never done before, but have heard from our readers that they would like to see something like this. We’ve reviewed quite a few Tonic Waters, but which is the best?

Or more appropriately, which do we think is the best at this point in 2012? Let’s take a closer look. But unlike gin, we have some disambiguation in here. This list will contain syrups [which could use, but do not require soda water] and regular classic pre-carbonated tonic waters. So your mileage may vary depending on which you might prefer…

# LW 2W Title —

1 – – Todd Thrasher’s Tonic   If you’ve come around to Tonic syrups, then Thrasher’s tonic is worth seeking out. One of the best blends of flavor, herbs and sweetness. An easy favorite for me this year.Review Quote: “I’d say many tonic syrups are for people who already love the taste of quinine and rich herbal concoctions. Thrasher’s tonic, not so much. Its sweet, nicely balanced, and has an appeal that spans a wider array of drinkers.”  2 1 1 Fever Tree Tonic   Perhaps the best of the pre-carbonated tonics in my opinion.

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Tonic Water

Tonic Water Review: Canada Dry Diet Tonic Water

canada-dry-diet-tonic

Diet tonic water is a funny thing to me. Firstly, considering how many good high quality tonics are out there which have calories under 50 per serving [Q Tonic, the two Indian Tonics]. The market position of a diet tonic is clear to me. It is for folks who want a sweet gin and tonic, but they don’t want any calories.

Now, as a preface, I’ll ask: if you’re having gin [rife with calories] can’t you spare the extra 50 to mix it with a real tonic water?

Okay, but perhaps you can’t Perhaps you have a good reason. Let’s see what this diet tonic water has to offer:

Tasting Almost watery upfront, clean and club soda like. Fizzy with a bit of bubbles. The effervescence fades quickly to a slight dash of bitterness [this is in line with the non diet version of Canada Dry] and then that saccharine mouth puckering sweetness. Its a bit drying on the palette, reminiscent of the way that Q Tonic or even Indian Tonics feel at the end of the taste; though I find a little bit of an acidic sweetness lingering on the back of the palette after tasting.

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