In some— no many— sense Schweppes rightfully deserves the title of “the original tonic water.” Specifically in the sense that we know today. In 1871 when Schweppes launched Schweppes Tonic Water, it was the first of its kind. The first carbonated tonic water with quinine in it.
Schweppes had been bottling mineral waters since the late 18th century. Though the company was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, Johann Schweppes made his name in London where he moved in the 1790s. It was the product line expansions in the 19th century that made Schweppes the name it is today. It is now sold around the world, though the Schweppes Tonic Water is customized on a market-by-market basis. European versions are more likely to use less sugar or more quinine— Schweppes Tonic Water in the United States uses the ubiquitous soda sweetener High Fructose Corn Syrup and comes in at a rather steep 130 kcal per 12 oz. serving.
Schweppes Tonic Water has a very quiet nose. Faint hint of citrus and/or cucumber. It’s nearly neutral.
On the palate, there’s a pleasant robust effervescence. Rather large bubbles tickle the palate, and have a rather long lasting power. The quinine bitterness is moderately strong. Schweppes Tonic Water has a slight woody lemon note. The quinine has a flash of metallic edge, but that quickly leaves. The bitterness is clean and quite long lasting. Overall, on its own Schweppes Tonic Water is quite pleasant. And even moreso when you consider some of its plastic bottle brethren.
Paired with Cotswolds Distillery’s Cotswolds Dry Gin, Schweppes gracefully steps out of the way. The bitterness and quinine notes are lovely and nicely balanced, leaving the gin the star. It’s a really delicious gin and tonic.
And that’s what I like about Schweppes Tonic Water. It is almost the default. It works well with nearly anything in the gin (and yes, for you vodka and tonic drinkers— even you) world.
Critics might deride it as too sweet. And it’s a bit too sweet to be my all-the-time pour. But Schweppes Tonic Water has one of the best widely available tonics you can find on the shelf of nearly any supermarket in this country— from sea to shining sea. Worst case scenario, there’s always Schweppes Tonic Water. But I think it’s even better than that.
Highly recommended at its price point.
Schweppes Tonic Water is widely available stateside through Amazon.
12 thoughts on “Schweppes Tonic Water (U.S.)”
If you buy Schweppes Indian Tonic in Europe, it will not be sweetened with HFCS. It is sweetened with regular sugar, and it has 8 grams per 100 ml, as opposed to most soft drinks which have between 10 and 11 grams of sugar per 100 ml.
I haven’t had American tonics with HFCS in them, but I hear the taste of HFCS is vile.
Also, those amounts might not be directly comparable because HFCS is a much more potent sweetener than natural sugar. Ie to achieve the same sweetness much less is needed.
Please tell me where to find schweppes tonic water in montreal or hawkesbury (ontario)
Shweppes tonic is disgusting.
It is to tonic water what Hershey’s or Cadbury’s are to real chocolate, or SoftScoop to real dairy ice cream.
I have some next to me. I’m moved to write this because I really think it’s pretty vile.
New branding seems to have necessitated a change of recipe. It has spoiled the product which is now very sweet i have had to resort tocTesco or Waitrose in UK.
I cannot open the bottles. VERY hard to open. There is another product in a can. My husband promises he will never by Schweppes again. Too frustrating to open. Wrong phone number on the bottle to call and comment too. I imagine they are tired of receiving this same complaint but problem solved. Do not buy Schweppes.
I agree! Very difficult to open the bottles. No instructions makes it even more frustrating. Will definitely not buy it again.
Agreed. I have to cut it with a know before I can twist off the lid. Didn’t used to be this way. Now they’ve changed the holder for the 10oz 6 pact and it’s awful. Cannot figure out how to get the bottle out unless I cut the holder with scissors. From now on, I’m a Canada Dry fan!!
I would love to learn how to open the 6 pack diet tonic water bottles. Neither my husband nor I (we both have no issues with hands) can’t twist the top. The store manager couldn’t either and took them back.
Way too hard to open. What’s going on???
Really do not like your new recycle cap! It is most difficult to open a bottle. I have to use a pair of channel locks to unscrew. Absolutely insane!!!
Not awful but this US version is quite rough. Local super was out of my absolute favorite pre-made, Fever Tree’s light Indian Tonic, and got it rather than Fever Tree’s Elderflower as I already had some. It’s damn syrupy, and its sweetness totally overpowered my gin. I’m a big fan of classic London Drys: Bombay Dry, Gordon’s, Beefeater… somewhat harsh stuff that could do with a good tonic to tame it. In this case, with Gordon’s, the harshness wasn’t so much tamed as obliterated. I don’t drink sodas, and this felt just like that. I should have gone for the Q tonic. I don’t particularly like it, but it would suit my needs much better than this unsophisticated sugar water. It barely presents the all necessary quinine bite, and this is perhaps it’s most unforgivable attribute.
I go to the Taproom restaurant in Bomoseen, Vt and there a vodka a tonic with the same ingredients, ( Absolute vodka and Schweppes tonic) tastes markedly different than the one I drink at home. Why ?