Hot Trend, Cool Drinks: Artisanal Tonic Water

Hot Trend, Cool Drinks: Artisanal Tonic Water

Faith Durand
Jul 1, 2010

Here's a mini-trend I noticed while walking around at the Fancy Food show this past weekend: Tonic water! Yes, that combination of sweet, bitter, and fizzy, so beloved in our summer gin and tonics, has drawn the attention of some small-batch soda makers. Apparently there is a lot of room for improvement in tonic water. I tried three different varieties, and all were significantly better than the big brands I usually drink. One of them is even from Brooklyn!

Jordan and Paul of Brooklyn-based Q Tonic.

Q Tonic, which is based in in Brooklyn, was light and crisp, and really delicious even when drunk straight. It has 60% fewer calories than the usual high-fructose sweetened stuff, since it is sweetened just with a "touch of agave."

Read more: Q Tonic website

The other two companies who are making tonic water that I met at the show were Fentiman's and Fever Tree. Fentiman's is a company primarily based in England. The Fentiman's at the show, though, was an American branch licensed to sell Fentiman's wonderful traditional sodas (ginger beer, shandy, Victorian lemonade, dandelion and burdock soda). I am a big fan of Fentiman's, even though I usually don't drink soda at all. Their "botanical" sodas are delightful. Their tonic water was crisp, but not as light as Q Tonic's. It was extra-fizzy, and very bright, with lemongrass and juniper.

Read more: Fentiman's website

Last but not least, Fever Tree, another English brand, is also in the boutique tonic water area. Their tonic water tasted most heavily of citrus, to me, and it also was well-carbonated. It had a lingering bitter aftertaste (I liked this) and it also was light years beyond the usual tonic water brands.

Read more: Fever Tree website

Have you tried any of these boutique tonic water brands? What did you think?

Related: Organic, Grass-Fed Ghee from Pure Indian Foods - Fancy Food Show Summer 2010

(Images: Faith Durand)

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