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.
In short, it’s easier to recommend this tonic water over many other store brands, which have really sweet fake complexions. Not true here. Gold Emblem tonic water is mild, inoffensive, and in a pinch [and for the price] it gets the job done.
Best consumed: I wouldn’t use it for more expensive gins, but for a casual backyard BBQ, there’s worse options. Add a lime though for balance.
Availability: CVS Drugstores
Rating: I’d suggest going Canada Dry or Schweppes if it’s available, but this tonic is as inoffensive as it is bland. If you’re looking for an inexpensive backyard BBQ tonic that’s not too sweet and doesn’t have too much bite, this might be what you’re looking for.