You know, I never quite thought about it this way until I saw this [paraphrased] statement on a packaging of Fever-Tree Tonic: “Tonic water is 3/4 of a gin and tonic, so shouldn’t be of a higher quality?” I’m all about trying something new when it comes to cocktails and natural ingredients. I had seen Fever Tree in stores for a long time, but it was always so expensive. I couldn’t fathom dropping nearly $10 on a pack of four small bottles when I could get Schweppes or a store brand for 79 cents and in a much larger quantity. How could I justify it in that case?
At a Target the other day, I saw a pack of four 6.8 ounce bottles for $5.99, which is so far the cheapest in my neck of the woods. I figured now would be the time to finally give this a go. I enjoyed reading their story and list of ingredients. This is Indian-style tonic, featuring quinine from the Congo, mineral water, real sugar, and bitter orange from Tanzania for flavoring. Other ingredients for their different flavored tonics span the world from England to Sicily.
My first gin and tonic with this luxurious water called for one of the highest-end gins I keep on my home bar, which is Hendrick’s (my refill was with Bluecoat). Almost immediately, I noticed an extremely light aroma. It was neither pleasing nor repulsive, but it was there…and it seemed natural. Cheaper tonics either have no smell or a kind of funky, artificial one that you must quickly get over if it is all you have on hand.
I mixed up the drink and took a sip. The difference in taste is a noticeable one. Fever-Tree has the perfect combination of sweet and bitter. When you are done sipping, the aftertaste is a bitter one, but not in a bad way. It is there almost to remind you that you are sipping nature. This is a light and refreshing tonic, easy on the palate, and giving me insight into what, perhaps, the first gin and tonics tasted like over a century ago in the heyday of British colonialism in India, where this cocktail was invented.
As someone who rarely drinks soda, I despise the deadly additives that we put in our food and drinks. Do you want a regular tonic with high fructose corn syrup? None of the major brands use real sugar. Or do we go the diet route and take our chance with saccharin or aspartame? In any event, you are likely going to be left with a slightly artificial, less fulfilling drinking experience…and doing damage to your body all in one shot.
I hate to use the word “healthy”, but we all know that gin is one of the more beneficial spirits out there. The botanicals and herbs in its distillation have for centuries been used by apothecaries to treat all manner of ailments. Tonic water too originated out of medicinal necessity. It would then seem almost antithetical to pour some artificial, chemically-laden garbage into your gin, and an even bigger travesty if you are using Hendrick’s, Bluecoat, or Bombay, to name a few.
Fever-Tree Tonic is expensive. There is no way to beat around that bush. For that reason, I cannot say that I will keep my fridge stocked with this stuff, but a special occasion would definitely call for it. Maybe if it becomes more popular, the price will go down. It is still rather new in the United States. I’ll eagerly be awaiting that day. This is tonic which could actually revolutionize the way we use gin, and the way we frame our cocktails from this moment forward.