The 5 Best Tonic Waters for All Your Cocktail Needs

In all honesty, I didn’t really know what tonic water was before this taste test. I’d had it before and I knew that it was used in cocktails, but I didn’t actually know what made it tonic water specifically. Now, I’m much more well-versed. Not only can I pick out different tonic flavor profiles, but I know how to pronounce “quinine” (sounds like kwai-nine).

Cocktail lover and Good Mythical Morning writer, Emily Fleming, joined us in an effort to find out which tonic water she should be mixing with her gin. After trying a whole slew of sparkling tonics, we narrowed it down to this list of the top five.

The following article contains affiliate links that may generate a small commission to us when you make a purchase through the link. Learn more about how we work with affiliates here.


fever-tree tonic water

Best of the Best

Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water

Coming into the taste test, Emily already knew this one was her favorite. She was curious to see if a rival beverage would surpass her beloved Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water. Surprise! None did. This is easily the best tonic water we tried. According to Fever-Tree, it contains “less quinine…which, with the addition of rosemary and lemon thyme, produces a much lighter, more fragrant tonic.” We’re sold! Mixed into a cocktail or on its own, this is the tonic water to buy.

Credit: Merc / Fever-Tree

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

fever-tree elderflower tonic water

Best Herbal

Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic Water

Fever-Tree blends “the essential oils from handpicked English elderflowers with quinine of the highest quality” to make this tonic water. They describe it as “delicious” and “floral” and I completely agree. It has a strong lychee scent and tastes a bit like gummy bears (in a good way). It’s not quite as perfect as the Mediterranean, but it’s very, very good. Plus, the teenie tiny bottle is so precious and was a big hit with Emily.

Credit: Merc / Fever-Tree

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

canada dry tonic water

Best Classic

Canada Dry Tonic Water

As Emily pointed out, this is an “old standard” for a reason. It’s well known. It’s reliable. It’ll never let you down. There’s no nuance to this tonic, but the super sweet and lemony taste is incredibly refreshing. And you can find it anywhere: the liquor store, Walmart, a gas station. If you’re trying to mix up a cocktail in a hurry with minimal ingredients, Canada Dry is a great option. It might even be…better than their classic ginger ale?!

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

schweppes tonic water

Best Classic Runner-Up

Schweppes Tonic Water

When it comes to the classic tonic water brands, Emily prefers Canada Dry to Schweppes. We might disagree on this (I’m Team Schweppes), but we agree that both are good. Canada Dry is more lemony, while Schweppes is more limey. Emily insists that this “tastes more fancy and fresh” than its Canadian competitor. I did notice that it leaves less of a bitter taste in the back of my throat. But, much like Canada Dry, it’s affordable and easily accessible. We love!

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

trader joes tonic water

Best Budget

Trader Joe’s Tonic Water

Trader Joe’s Tonic Water is a solid choice for mixing up a good cocktail. If your budget is small but your thirst is large, grab a few bottles of this affordable tonic. It would be perfect for a sweet drink because, like the Fever-Tree Elderflower, it also has a distinct “gummy worm flavor” according to Emily. And to be clear, we love that. A sweet, bubbly compliment to our gin is exactly what we’re looking for!

Credit: Merc

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Other Products We Tried: Kroger Brand Tonic Water, Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water, Q Drinks Tonic Water, Happy Belly Tonic Water, Zevia Tonic Water, Fever-Tree Light Tonic Water, Fever-Tree Cucumber Tonic Water, Fentimans Naturally Light Tonic Water, Buzbee’s Indian Tonic Water, Betty Buzz Tonic Water

Film your own taste test at home and share with us using #SporkedTasteTest for a chance to be featured on our social pages!


About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.

  • You forgot to mention that the lower priced tonic waters are usually contain high fructose corn syrup.

    Reply
  • Didn’t add diet to ica to the test they have no carbs, so that’s what I use at home Meijer brand

    Reply