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Main Considerations When Choosing a Tonic

Where would we be without tonic to add to our Gin? There are few drinks as refreshing after a hard day as a good, long G&T – but with so many different and flavoured tonics around, choosing what’s best to stick in your tipple is becoming bewildering. Let’s have a look at some of the main considerations that you should consider when looking for a tonic to add to your Gin or Vodka.


Let’s start at the beginning and have a look at why tonic in the first place.  After all, a cold Gin over ice with a slice of lime or a twirl of lemon peel is a pretty good drink in itself, but tonic adds a special something and makes a great tipple even better.


Tonic originated in India, the quinine was a natural cure for highly prevalent malaria. The British troops based in India knew that they needed to take the medicine, but it was bitter drink to swallow. Solution? Add some Gin to it! And thus, the G&T was invented. 


Today, tonics have evolved out of all proportion and rather than just being a mix of quinine and sugar in carbonated water, we have all manner of flavours, and something for every taste often overpowering a tasty Gin. Strangelove, Fever-Tree, Capi, Fentiman's, there are so many that it becomes bewildering. So, what should you think about when choosing a tonic that is right for you?


First off, let’s consider the ideal mixing ratio. The perfect gin to tonic water ratio is generally regarded as 50ml gin or vodka to 100ml tonic and don’t forget, the right garnish can really bring out the flavours of your drink too. Some cocktologists actually think that mix too strong and recommend a ratio of one-part gin to three parts tonic water, over ice, so you may want to experiment a little to find your perfect mix. Many recommending that addition of soda water or even diet tonic, being lower sugar but higher carbonation. Remember though, if you add too little tonic, the alcohol will become a dominant taste, and too much means that you will overpower the natural palate of the Gin or Vodka, leaving you with a weak and insubstantial drink.


Get your ratio right and you are halfway to having a truly great drink.


Now let’s consider flavours. There are plenty of them on the market, with some great tastes that go well with different Gin origins and flavours.  You could try Hibiscus Tonic to go with citrus-based gins, or aromatic sweet citrus fruit tonics for a botanical-rich gin.  The combinations of tonics with gins or vodkas of different origins is bewildering, but there are a few rules that help you get that right combination.


For a start, you can identify the style of your gin, and the dominant flavours in it, and select a tonic that help bring out the aromatic notes. In most of the new breed of gins and vodkas, the base flavouring is quite pronounced and that needs something to compliment rather than to fight it.  Alcoholic beverages made from Hemp, have distinct flavours and thus need a matching tonic to enhance those tastes, rather than bury them under other flavours.


Don’t forget, you are hoping to enhance flavours, not replace them with something else in the tonic. The whole mixology aspect of gin, vodka, and the tonics that suit them is a degree level, subject in itself, but if you follow some of the above guidance, you are in for a treat of a drink!


If you would like access to our bank of cocktail recipes and mixing recommendations, please direct message team NDC.

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