The more gin I drink, the more I realise that there are what feels like a hundred ways to drink just one brand. From the type of gin to the garnishes you use and finally the tonic to top it all off with, each makes for a plethora of G&Ts. I went out and found as many varieties of tonic that I could in order compare prices, taste and quality and this is what I came up with.
Fitch and Leedes IndianTonic
Available from Liquor City for R41.99 for four, a little pricey but out of all the tonics I would say it's worth the spurge. It is softer than any tonic I have had. Not overpowering and compliments any gin, allowing you to focus on the alcohol instead of the tonic. You can’t taste that bitterness which is odd but good. If any tonic was to turn me, it would be this one.
Fitch and Leeds Pink Tonic
I know this is also Fitch and Leedes but the pink tonic called out to me and how could I say no? At R44.99 for 6, it works out cheaper and looks way cooler. They are also available at Pick n Pay. I love the idea of a pink drink but the only trouble is that it's flavoured with cucumber and rose water. This counts as a plus if you are drinking it with something like Hendricks which is distilled with cucumber but for any other gin; I would say you would have to be a little more careful in terms of the botanicals. It’s not so overpowering that it will drown out the gin but it is strong enough to make a difference.
Woolworths sugarless tonic
At R13.49 for 1 litre it's similar to a regular tonic price but unfortunately for me all artificial sugars are instantly noticeable on my tongue. Something about those saccharins that hit me in all the wrong places. You will be interested to know that I am also one of those people who absolutely loathes coriander. It tastes like bitter ashes the second it touches my mouth. So this tonic is a no no for me. Not a fan at all, in spite of the lack of calories. I am health conscious but if I want to cut back on the sugar then I would rather do a neat gin instead.
Fevertree Indian Tonic
This tonic costs R64.95 for four 200ml bottles at Woolworths. I’m sorry but that is just absurd and I will not be tasting it based on principle (and lack of money). They actually have a range of tonics including an Elderflower flavoured one which unfortunately I will never get to sample. I get that it is imported but how am I meant to afford a decent gin and then fork out all of that money on the tonic too?
Spar no name tonic
This one is rather bitter. I know the quinine in tonic is meant to have a bit of a bite but normally I enjoy it. In fact there are times where I drink straight up tonic on its own, but for some reason this one hits me as quite sour. Still, it is affordable but it does take away from the gin flavour itself in my opinion.
I found this one by chance at a small liquor store near where I stay. At only R10 for a 2 litre bottle, I had to try it out. It tastes like it cost R10. It is extremely bitter and artificial tasting. Even more so than the Spar brand which you can at least tolerate. I am not a fan. Even at that price, my gin and my palette deserve something a little better. This tonic is proof that cheaper isn't always better.
I think that the majority of people use this one. Available from pretty much anywhere ranging from shops to petrol stations, it is the most convenient and decently priced at about R13.99 or so for a 1 liter bottle depending on where you get it. It’s what I started drinking gin with and I think that even after this experiment, it's most likely what I will continue to drink gin with. I've never gone wrong with this tonic and in my new product line that I will be bringing out soon, it has been the perfect mixer, allowing me to focus on various gin botanicals. Keep an eye out for my shop opening soon!
So there you have it, all of the tonics that I could find. I am certain that there are others out there and please do tell me what else you know of and what you think of them so that I too can give them a bash.
I do believe that different tonics make a difference for sure, particularly if they have added flavours. My final say is that I am going to continue to use Schweppes and when the mood is right or if I am drinking a particularly fancy gin, then the Fitch and Leedes Indian Tonic is the way to go.
For more info on botanicals you can check out my blog post HERE and if you have anything to add, please comment below and let me hear what you have to say!