Taste Test: Tonic Water - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

As Something and Tonic author Nick Kokonas writes in our May/June 2023 issue, tonic water has come a long way since the days of Pitt’s Aerated Tonic Water—and from the era of supermarket tonics. The now-ubiquitous mixer is used in drinks of all kinds, and it’s an essential ingredient for any home bar. Here are nine premium brands to try.

Betty Buzz

Billed as an “American-style” tonic, Betty Buzz aims for a lighter balance of bitter and sweet. $8/4-pack, boisson.co

Boylan Heritage Tonic Water

Lemon, key lime, and bitter orange extracts add citrusy complexity to this premium tonic (also available as a light tonic). Famous for its line of nostalgic sodas, Boylan Bottling Co. collaborated with home goods company W&P to produce the Heritage Tonic Water. Clean and crisp, it’s an extra citrusy option with lemon, key lime, and bitter orange complementing the sweet-bitter balance, with just a hint of spice on the finish. $41.75/12-pack, boylanbottling.com

Double Dutch

Dutch twins Raissa and Joyce de Haas offer a range of mixers under their Double Dutch label, including Indian Tonic, Cranberry & Ginger Tonic, and Double Lemon Tonic. $1.99, wineandeggs.com

East Imperial

Aiming squarely at the craft-cocktail crowd, East Imperial offers six styles of tonic, including Yuzu Tonic and Royal Botanic Tonic, with elderflower and ruby red grapefruit. Made using an old family recipe with botanicals sourced primarily from Asia and Africa, the tonic water is crisp and tart like a fresh green apple, with a lightly spiced bitterness and a pleasing Champagne-like fizz. $21.99/10-pack, amazon.com


This venerable brand helped define the premium tonic category, and more recently added a Pink Grapefruit Tonic to its lineup. Their regular tonic water is sweetened partly with beet sugar but remains pleasingly dry. The addition of herbs and botanicals, including juniper berry, lime leaf, and lemongrass, contributes to a complex yet balanced bitterness. $5.99/4-pack, totalwine.com


The familiar G&T got a big boost with Fever-Tree’s launch in 2005. Fever-Tree now bottles six styles of tonic, including their flagship style and a Mediterranean approach. $5.99/4-pack, fever-tree.com

Franklin & Sons

A longtime favorite in the U.K., this British brand now offers three tonic styles in the U.S. market, including Indian Tonic, Light Tonic, and Sicilian Lemon Tonic. The Indian tonic pairs especially well with juniper-forward gins, while the Sicilian Lemon Tonic is a great match for sloe gin. $2, proofnomore.com

Q Mixers

Q helped make premium tonic water a household staple, and today offers its flagship Spectacular Tonic alongside Classic Tonic, Elderflower Tonic, and Light Tonic. The original from the Q line of mixers, the tonic stands apart with about half the sugar content of most other brands. Bracingly bitter, with a touch of spice and citrus zest, it’s sweetened with just enough agave to balance the quinine’s bite. $7.99/4-pack, bevmo.com

Top Note Tonic

Top Note takes an ingredient-driven, craft approach to its mixers, including its Indian Tonic, Classic Tonic, and Bitter Lemon Tonic. $39.99/16-pack, store.topnotetonic.com

Enjoy This Article?

Sign up for our newsletter and get biweekly recipes and articles delivered to your inbox.

Send this to a friend