Kicktail straddles that dangerous space between caffeine and alcohol. So much so that it even has to have a warning on the back of the bottle, “caffeine may mask the effect of alcohol*.”
Kicktail Tonic Water seems aimed squarely at the Vodka and Red Bull crowd. It’s ostensibly a tonic water, with quinine, sweetened with cane sugar, it also locks up the award for most B vitamins I’ve ever seen in a tonic water.
150% of B6; 100% of B12; 60% your RDA of Pantothenic Acid per serving. Per Serving!
But this is where Kicktail Tonic Water really gets me. There’s two servings of tonic water supposedly in this 8.4 fl oz can. So while it calls itself “low calorie” with a measly 35 calories per serving, I rarely I see anyone make a Gin and Tonic with half a can. Certainly they can’t be serious, because canned soda rapidly flattens and has no shelf life. Odds are, you’re going to down the whole can. Is 70 calories a can a low calorie drink? You decide.
The Caffeine content is 80mg per bottle, which is a about on par with 8 oz. of drip brewed coffee, which would come in at 91 calories. Diet Coke is going to hit you for about ~20ish calories for 8 ounces [more on caffeine content in coffee]. So in terms of Caffeine, Kicktail Tonic Water is not extreme or unusual (except that it’s intended to be mixed with alcohol).
Poured, there’s a gentle head. A lot of small-to-medium sized bubbles adhere to the sides of the glass. A lot of effervescence is present.
The nose is somewhat unusual. There’s a hint of briny, seaweed notes on the nose, with small bubbles gently popping. I poured it into two glasses to test this further, but this peculiar nose is indeed present. I’m not sure what it is. It’s slightly vegetal, furthermore, with a hint of lettuce, kelp, and sour lemon.
Tasting Kicktail Tonic Water on its own, it has hints of fake sweetener early, with lemongrass and citric acid mid-palate yielding to a bitter and semi-metallic quinine finish. The quinine is amped up and quite abrasive. Pleasant long lasting bitterness remains on the palate for quite some time.
I mixed Kicktail Tonic Water with some gin. The green, mildly cloying sweetness was still present early on, and the bitterness which was intense and quite pleasant when sipping the soda on its own masked the finish of the gin.
Kicktail seeks to deliver a pack of vitamins and caffeine to their audience. If vitamins and caffeine are more important than taste, then Kicktail Tonic Water is probably going to win out. As an alternative to the vodka and Red Bull, with a similar effect, it occupies a gap in the market, surely.
But for everyone else, the flavor profile is unusual and seems crafted more around cramming as many b-vitamins as possible above getting the flavor right. Caffeine on its own is merely a bittering agent; however, the rest of the ingredients ultimately unbalance the tonic water and make it tough to mix with.
On its own, I’m not sure the flavor works. On top of that, you have the slightly less advisable practice of mixing caffeine and alcohol. I find it hard to recommend this tonic water on multiple accounts.
*As a disclaimer, be careful when mixing alcohol and caffeine. For more on mixing, please check out this from the CDC.