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13 Apr 2016 By

Getting the gin right is crucial for the perfect G and T, but upgrading your tonic will revolutionise your favourite tipple.

Gin and tonic is important. And while you may have found the finest London dry to create your cocktail, don’t neglect the other two thirds of this most British of institutions. We’ve explored the best on the market so you can upgrade your favourite drink.

bottlegreen tonic

If you fancy a refreshingly effervescent drink, this is the brand for you. The ultimate palette refresher, the classic tonic water blends herbal notes, citrus touches and Italian bitters together to make the perfect partner for a rich gin and is full of enough flavour for only a simple garnish of lemon needed to bring it to its full potential. Bottlegreen have even revamped the classic tonic, with a line featuring elderflower flavoured tonic and pink tonic, a delicious blend of pomegranate, quinine and floral notes of elderflower. All are perfect for a hot summer’s afternoon.


Tonic didn’t used to be sold in pre-carbonated, sugar-stuffed bottles – when it was drunk as a malaria preventative, it was a concentrate designed to be watered down. BTW is reprising the concept with its quinine-flavoured cordial. Just add soda water (as they did before bottled, pre-mixed tonic was available). If you like your gin and tonic on the tonicy side, this is your tipple – just add more to tip the balance in your favour. It also strips away the sharp, bittersweet aftertaste of a supermarket drop. If it’s all too much of a faff one night, BTW also offers a bottled back up.

East Imperial tonic

If you like your G and T dry, East Imperial Old World Tonic Water is about as parched as tonic gets. The sweetness and tingle of a supermarket mixer has been stripped away, but what’s left is rich and rooty, allowing you to fill in the gaps with a twist of whatever citrus suits. Because the flavours aren’t trying to overpower the alcohol, it’s also a great way to taste different gins and get a real handle on their more subtle nuances. Another bonus is that East Imperial uses natural sugar cane in its recipe, so the calorie count is about half of a slimline tonic. If you’d rather your tonic flavourings weren’t left to your own mixology skills, East Imperial’s Burma Tonic is a lot more imposing. You still get the richer, autumnal botanical notes, but there’s twice the sugar cane content of the Old World tonic, and a lot more citrus, so the flavour’s far more familiar. It’s been created specifically to reprise the long pink gins popularised in Burma, so add a dash of bitters, and use a citrusy London dry gin for the full effect. It also has the highest quinine content on the market, so expect a refreshing, lip-smacking finish.


The jewel in the crown of Fentimans’ tonic range is its Herbal offering. While you might assume any mixer with the word “herbal” in its title would taste like nettle tea soaked in wet soil, thankfully, in this case, you’d be very much mistaken. Bittersweet, Baby Sham and ruddy sharp are all words that sprung to mouth as we sampled this Fentimans offering: the mix of lime flower, juniper, quinine and a generous dash of sugar offer a pleasant counterweight to the more WholeFoods-friendly notes of hyssop and mertle. Ideal for simultaneously upping your nutrient intake as the gin rubs away your resolve to be good.

Fever Tree

The biggest mover in the tonic water game these days is undoubtedly Fever-Tree. Its range is typified by a light, crisp, fresh approach to the drink, with gentle, fragrant flavours and minimal aftertaste. The Mediterranean is particularly notable, infusing your G and T with summery hints of citrus, and aromas of rosemary and thyme. Its most recent development, however, is arguably the best yet: coming to selected bars and pubs next month will be the Aromatic – the brand’s crisp clear tonic infused with a perfectly pitched hint of Angostura. The Aromatic puts the Pink Gin right back on our cocktail list, and we’re pretty pleased.

Jack Rudy Cocktail co

The Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. is serious about cocktails, and the humble gin and tonic is no exception. A family run company hailing from Charleston, SC and Lexington, KY, this American import wants us to make it how our grandaddys did. There products are high quality throwbacks, and the company only offer its tonics in syrup form. If you’re a gin lover, this is the tonic for you. It’s light, clean approach allows the flavour of your gin to do much of the talking. The elderberry being a native of the Kentucky countryside, an elderflower option was a natural addition to the collection. While offering a strong compliment to darker stateside spirits (tequila, bourbon, rum) it also makes for a summery, refreshingly sweet pairing to your Tanqueray.

Peter Spanton

A gin and tonic is no longer just a gin and tonic. As flavoured tonics grow in popularity, your tonic choice can turn your G and T into a delicately pitched cocktail (with considerably less fuss). Peter Spanton has looked into more off-piste options than most. The quinine flavour is robust across its range so keep this in mind. The Chocolate No. 4 by Peter Spanton’s own admission is predictably best left for dark spirits, but the Cardamom and Lemongrass are fabulous paired with the Tanqueray No. TEN, alluding to the Central Asian history of the drink.

Square Root London

Square Root London’s selection of new tonics are twists on the typical quinine drink, each a little fruitier and sweeter than other more bitter, blander brands. Its range is aimed squarely at summer sipping, with the Cinchona adding lemon juice and lemongrass syrup, the Artemisia taking a more earthy route with Wormwood (used in vermouth and absinthe) and Bergamot orange, and the Hop Tonic, which is inspired by American Pale Ale flavours.

tanqueray gin

We needed to test all our tonics against the same gin, to make sure we got our flavour pairings just right. We chose Tanqueray No. TEN as our test gin, a high quality option thanks to its crisp, clean nature, characterised by subtle botanical flavours of camomile flowers, juniper and citrus. Highly recommended.

Read it at GQ

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