Nothing ruins a good cocktail like bad tonic water. When you spring for excellent spirits, why would you use a mass-market mixer? Cheap tonic water can run the risk of having a fake, soapy citrus taste or even worse, suffer from a swimming pool chlorine aftertaste. What's a discerning drinker to do? Opt for an artisanal tonic made with quality ingredients. Gone is the carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and mysterious artificial flavorings and in their place: spring water, pure quinine and natural flavors like lemongrass and orange peel. After testing out a handful of small-batch brews, we've assembled our favorites, which suit a variety of tastes.
The British brand Fever-Tree offers a refreshingly crisp tonic with a smooth sweetness and citrusy finish.
$5 for four BevMo
The tangy Q Tonic, hailing from Brooklyn, is sweetened just slightly with agave. It has about half the calories of other tonics and is a touch drier as well.
Q Tonic, $7 for four at BevMo
The Jack Rudy Co.'s small batch tonic is actually a syrup developed by Southern bartender Brooks Reitz. Rich in spice and citrusy sweetness, you simply add it to soda water for a fresh tonic. "It's ideal because it allows you to control the bitterness and also works as a syrup in shaken cocktails," says Reitz. "Moreover, the concentrate lasts much longer."
Jack Rudy's, $20 for 17 oz. at Kaufman Mercantile
The year Jacob Schweppe
invents a machine to carbonate water.