Delicious Tonic for Gin+Tonics
February 15, 2008 4:46 PM   Subscribe

The best Tonic for a Gin and Tonic...

I'm looking for high quality tonic water for a Gin and Tonic. I've tried Schweppes and Canada Dry, but I'm looking for a more flavorful and higher quality drink.

1) Must contain an appropriate quantity of genuine quinine.
2) Should use real sugar as opposed to high fructose corn syrup.
3) Should be flavorful and specifically mix well with Gin. Especially Hendrick's (yum).

I am in the US so (2) above is a bit hard to find, since virtually every carbonated beverage here is saturated with high fructose corn syrup. I am more specifically located in the suburbs of Chicago, so I should have access to anything that has a fairly wide distribution.

Any other suggestions on making an absolutely delicious Gin and Tonic are welcome.
posted by 1024x768 to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I haven't tried any of these, but the New York Times tested out some fancy tonics a while ago.
posted by subtle-t at 4:50 PM on February 15, 2008

Best answer: I was recently on a very similar quest for HFCS-free tonic water, and discovered that the Whole Foods house brand uses real sugar. How its quinine level compares to other brands I couldn't tell you, but I've never found anything else without corn syrup.
posted by catesbie at 4:54 PM on February 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Where is Migs when you need him?

I hear that the Stirrings brand suits your needs.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:00 PM on February 15, 2008

Best answer: Well, there's Q or Fever-Tree, but you might be able to find Canadian-made Schweppes (which I'm pretty sure doesn't use HFCS), or UK-sourced tonic in the various British/Irish food shops around Chicago.

Fever-Tree's midwest distributor is Union Beverage in Chicago. Call 'em.
posted by holgate at 5:12 PM on February 15, 2008

Where is Migs when you need him?

Not sure how much help he'd be... He's all about the Schweppes.
posted by jbrjake at 5:17 PM on February 15, 2008

The Canadian Schweppes is great. I'm going to have one now! Cheersh!
posted by unSane at 5:19 PM on February 15, 2008

Whole Foods packages a tonic that uses cane sugar. My G&Ts get surprisingly good comments. Be sure to lime the rim.

Doh! catesbie beat me.
posted by artdrectr at 5:27 PM on February 15, 2008

Hansen's Tonic is HFCS-free, has quinine, and is available at Trader Joe's. Also, the cans are the perfect size to make one g&t each, whereas I find that litre bottles tend to go flat unless I'm entertaining.
posted by klangklangston at 5:30 PM on February 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's not G&T, however, I find bitter orange (aranciata amara) and grapefruit (pompelo) San Pellegrino sodas are pretty delicious with gin.
posted by ambilevous at 5:33 PM on February 15, 2008

Response by poster: Beagle, in response to your question, though the G+T is a consummate summer drink, I've never been one to restrict my beverage selection based on the season...

Thanks all for the great answers, I'd like to mark almost every comment as a 'best answer' but I think I'll wait until I've tried the various tonics and best the comments based on that.
posted by 1024x768 at 5:52 PM on February 15, 2008

Best answer: I find bitter orange (aranciata amara)

Schweppes bitter orange is as rare as unicorn sch---youknowwhat outside Germany these days. Gin and bitter lemon/orange is another oldie-but-goodie, and I think the posh tonic people are trying to revive bitter lemon. (Bitter orange and lemon mentioned in this Chowhound tonic thread.)

You might want to see if there's a bar/pub in Chicago -- Irish, British, or just cocktail-trendy -- that orders the pub-standard single-serve bottles of tonic, and ask if you can piggyback their order.
posted by holgate at 5:53 PM on February 15, 2008

Seconding the Whole Foods tonic. Sits in my kitchen as we speak and has been used in many tasty g&t's.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 6:06 PM on February 15, 2008

Nthing Fever Tree. It ain't cheap, but it's so good that one warm weekend this last fall, we went through nearly two bottles of gin because the tonic was so tasty (well, the gin helped!). It has a good, clean mouthfeel, which I assume is thanks to the sugar rather than HFCS in it. And it's quinine-y.
posted by rtha at 6:12 PM on February 15, 2008

Best answer: Make your own. (Mid way down the page)
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:12 PM on February 15, 2008

Was recently told by the bartender, sorry -- mixologist -- at a super fancy-pants restaurant that Stirrings is the best. And if you can't find it, Whole Food's house brand (365) is the second best.
posted by spilon at 6:34 PM on February 15, 2008

Fevertree! With some 209 gin, it's fabulous, and not bad with Hendrick's either. Enjoy.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:47 PM on February 15, 2008

Gonna put in another vote for Fevertree. It's the standby at our (heavily G/T-slanted) house. Cane sugar, a'course. Also, I find that Hendricks is not an optimal gin with tonic. See if you can land yourself some Junipero - it's my favorite dry gin of the moment. AMAZING with tonic.
posted by rkent at 8:18 PM on February 15, 2008

I'm hear to tell you klangklangston's gin & tonics made me enjoy gin for the first time in my life. He knows what he's talking about.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:47 PM on February 15, 2008

Hendrick's is great. Baffert's is greater.
posted by JABof72 at 10:27 PM on February 15, 2008

Good god man, why would you drown something as delicious as Hendrick's in tonic?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:53 AM on February 16, 2008

Cuz Hendrick's is tasty with good tonic, too. Then again, so's Junipero.
posted by rtha at 11:40 AM on February 16, 2008

See your Hendrick's and raise you Citadelle.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:04 PM on February 16, 2008

Response by poster: Following up on this. I found Hansen's at Trader Joes and tried Whole Foods house brand (365). Both tonics were solid, surpassing Scheweppe's and Canada Dry. However they were both a bit light tasting. The Hansen's was sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, but the Whole Foods house brand was sweetened with cane sugar.

I had a tasting of G+T with some friends with Citadelle, Tanqueray 10, Hendrick's and Junipero. Though they all have their strengths, our consensus was that Citadelle was a bit too light for a G+T (though excellent in a martini), Hendrick's worked well when cucumber was substituted for citrus, Tanqueray 10 was too sweet, and Junipero was absolutely perfect. In addition the Junipero worked incredibly well with Schweppe's Bitter Lemon (garnished with lime).

I found Q Tonic at Sam's Wines, but am having difficulty finding Fever Tree and Stirrings. If anyone knows of any retailers that carry them in the Chicagoland area I'd be much obliged.

Once again, thanks all for your assistance.
posted by 1024x768 at 5:42 PM on February 17, 2008


I get Fever Tree at both BevMo and Whole Foods.
posted by rtha at 5:46 PM on February 17, 2008

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