Tonic water is not the most common mixer in Highballs and mixed drinks. But still, it's part of one of the most ordered two-ingredient drinks - The Gin and Tonic.
Tonic water is made with soda water, sugar, and a bitter compound called quinine. Quinine is extracted from the bark of cinchona trees and gives the tonic water a bitter touch.
Since the demand for Gin had grown, the selection of the bitter sweet mixer also increased dramatically. And choosing the best tonic water for your Gin and Tonic became an overwhelming task.
With so many options of Gin in various styles, finding the best fitting tonic water is a challenge.
The difference between tonic water and tonic syrup
When looking for new tonic waters to match your favorite Gin, you might come across something called tonic syrups. These syrups are a great way to balance sweetness and bitterness.
A tonic syrup is basically just syrup flavored with quinine. Of course, almost all options on the market come with additional flavorings. Typical savors are citrus peel, lemongrass, ginger, and other spices.
To use a tonic syrup in a G&T, you need to add soda water to the syrup. In contrast to tonic water, you can decide on syrup and soda water ratios.
As a rule of thumb, a ratio of 1:5 or 1:6 is a good place to start. That means on 0.5oz of tonic syrup come 2.5 to 3 oz chilled soda water.
Why I prefer tonic water over tonic syrup
When preparing a Gin & Tonic, details matter: The choice of Gin, the suitable tonic, large and clear ice, and the amount of carbonation.
The latter is why I prefer quality bottled tonic water over tonic syrup in most cases.
When mixing your own tonic syrup and soda water mix, you have to stir and mix all ingredients to combine them. That will ultimately make your tonic fall flat.
Not immediately, but way faster than with pre-bottled tonic water. Keep that in mind when making your decision between tonic syrup and tonic water.
Which Tonic water to match with which Gin
Questions like "What tonic water should I use with this and that Gin?" will never get old. There are just so many options available that you can get lost quickly. Ans they all taste quite different.
Of course, you always try to find a matching tonic for a Gin. But as there are so many options, I mostly stick to my two favorite tonics.
One is a Fever-Tree's Indian Tonic, and the other is the Mediterranean tonic, also from Fever-tree. Either one or the other is suitable for almost every type of Gin.
That's not because they're the best tonic waters or the best matches for Gin overall. But they are versatile, easy to get and fit a lot of different Gins.
The Indian Tonic goes well with traditional London Dry or Dry Gins, and the Mediterranean with contemporary, fruity, and exotic Gins.
Best Tonic Water for Gin and Tonic
It goes without saying that my two favorites are part of this list. But there are plenty more great tonics.
And honestly, if you go for the perfect pairing of Gin and tonic water, the resulting drink will taste much better than these one-mixer-fits-all combinations.
So, here's the list of the best tonic water to match with your Gin.
Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water
Fever-Tree produces some of the best quality tonic waters. These mixers come in a large variety like Indian, Mediterranean, Elderflower, Cucumber, Lemon, and many more.
Despite the wide selection, the Indian tonic and Mediterranean tonic are the only two that belong on this list. Both are exceptional tonic waters that work great in a G&T.
The ingredients for Fever-Tree's tonic waters are hand-selected from all over the world. Quinine from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexican bitter orange oils, lemons from Sicily, and African spices.
Their Indian tonic tastes great with traditional Dry and London Dry Gin. Use it in combination with Monkey 47 or Tanqueray 10. Garnished with a lemon peel, you get an outstanding Gin and Tonic.
Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water
The Mediterranean Tonic Water from Fever-tree is my all-time favorite. The restrained bitterness combined with bold herbal flavors like lemon thyme, rosemary, and more make it an excellent choice for maritime or exotic Gins.
The bitterness in this tonic is reduced while sweet and herbal flavors take the lead.
If you're not a fan of the bitter taste in genera, try mixing this tonic water with Nordés Gin. This combination can convert non-Gin drinkers in no time. You get a grape-based, herbal, and sweet Highball with just enough bitterness to balance it.
Fentiman's Tonic Water
Gin enthusiasts often bring up Fentiman's tonic water when debating the best tonic. And indeed, Fentiman produces excellent tonic water with a bold and botanical profile.
Because of the bold flavor profile, you should match Fentiman's only with equally bold Gins. Typically, a Dry Gin pairs best with this tonic water.
I recommend Fentiman's tonic water with Edinburgh Gin. It has some unusual notes like pine, heather, and milk thistle. The combination with Fentiman pronounces these flavors and enhances the experience.
1724 Tonic Water
1724 Tonic water is a fantastic choice for many Gins. This tonic is very clean and crisp. On its own, it's easy to sip and only slightly bitter.
In combination with Gin, the bitter notes are more pronounced. It allows the Gin to unfold its full aroma, only complementing it with subtle sweetness and bitter notes.
1724 is so great because it is unique and flavorful in taste but not overpowering. Therefore, it mixes beautifully with Gin. It adds a subtle flavor but never overpowers the Gin base.
Enjoy 1724 with Gin Mare, and add a sour botanical as a garnish to round off the taste. A slice or peel of lime or grapefruit works best in this case.
East Imperial Burma Tonic Water
The East Imperial Burma Tonic water certainly is an extraordinary mixer. It doubles the amount of sugar compared to their regular tonic water and increases the amount of quinine severely.
In order to balance the strongly bitter-sweet taste, the brand adds some lemongrass and Thai manao lime to the mix.
The result is a bold and bitter-sweet tonic that works best with London Dry Gin. Pair it with Tanqueray, Beefeater, or Sipsmith VJOP.
Indi & Co. Botanical Tonic Water
Indi & Co comes from the Spanish port city of Puerto de Santa Maria. Spain is the worldwide leader in Gin consumption, and this tonic joined the game in 2011.
The production of this tonic water is complex. In a first step, botanicals such as lemons, orange peel, lemon blossoms, kalamansi limes, kewra flowers, Japanese yuzu, and cardamom are macerated for more than two months.
Then the macerate is distilled in a copper still. Then carbonated water and natural cane sugar are added to the concentrate before the tonic water is bottled.
The resulting tonic is both elaborate and unusual in flavor. The tonic water works best with classic Gins like Elephant Gin or Ferdinand Saar Dry Gin.
Fentiman's Herbal Tonic Water
This tonic water is not for the faint-hearted. Fentiman's Herbal Tonic water has bold herbal flavors making it very interesting to pair it with Gin.
The tonic is infused with a fermented juniper berry extract, fermented kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass extract.
For most Gins, the fierce flavors are way too overpowering. However, paired with Ungava Gin, it makes one of the most intriguing Gin and Tonics I tried.
If you're new to G&T, stay away from this combo. But if you think you've seen it all, try this combination, and you will experience something completely new.
Schweppes Tonic Water
We have to mention Schweppes Tonic Water. This mixer is available almost everywhere in the world. When ordering a Gin and Tonic in a small-town bar, then you often get this mixer.
And it is the standard for a reason. Schweppes in the world of tonic water is what Beefeater and Gordon's are with Gin. Both are traditional and high-quality products, available everywhere at an affordable price.
It might not be the best tonic water in the world, but it's reliable and pleasant on its own or with Gin. You best pair it with old-school Gins like Bombay, Tanqueray, and Beefeater.
Gents Swiss Roots Tonic Water
Gents Swiss Roots tonic water is rare. The tonic water produced in Zurich brings new flavors to the Gin & Tonic.
The bitter notes of quinine are not too much in the foreground, and the citrus flavors are light and very nicely balanced.
The special feature of the Gin is a light, tart licorice note, which comes from the gentian. The elaborate production of the tonic is clearly worthwhile.
Gents Tonic Water is one of the lighter tonics in terms of taste. The bitter notes of the quinine are pleasantly restrained.
Therefore, the tonic blends very well with Gins in which the various flavors and botanicals are subtle, like in Berliner Brandstifter.
Goldberg Japanese Yuzu Tonic
Last but not least is the Yuzu tonic water from Goldberg. I'm not the biggest fan of the standard Indian tonic water from Goldberg, but their Yuzu is outstanding.
The flavors in this tonic water are perfectly balanced. Sweet and sour notes of exotic fruit play perfectly with a balanced bitterness.
Initially, the cooperation between Goldberg and professional Mixologist Jimmy Barrat was planned as a limited edition. But luckily, they saw reason and did not discontinue this gem.
Fast forward five years, the Japanese yuzu tonic is still in production and no longer limited. It's a perfect match for many Gins, but my preferred combination is the one with the Japanese Roku Gin.
Finding the best Gin for a Gin & Tonic
In case you're also looking to expand your Gin portfolio, there are plenty of great options to choose from. We dedicated a whole article to finding the best Gins for making G&Ts.
Some of them are already mentioned in this article, but there are many, many more to discover.