A simple gin and tonic is an excellent summer cocktail, largely because it is highly adaptable, very easy to make, and incredibly refreshing. My go-to combination is a large wine glass filled with ice, 2 ounces of Tanqueray, half a lime and the rest of the glass filled with whatever tonic water I have around. The biggest variable in that is the type of tonic water I use, but I’ve never thought much about it. As it turns out, there’s a ton of variation in different brands and styles, and I’m here with a taste test you help you figure out what to stock for all your cocktail-making needs.
Best Overall: Q ($3.99 for 4 7.5-fl oz cans) and Fever Tree ($4.99 for 4 200-ml bottles)
Fever Tree is a general go-to, and it held up in the tasting. Alongside Q, another widely available, somewhat fancy brand, it tied for best over all flavor. Both Q and Fever Tree have balanced bitterness, perfect for cocktails of all kinds. My recommendation would be to look for one of these brands on sale, and stock up.
Good For Other Cocktails: Navy Hill Soda and Tonic ($6.63 for 4-8 fl oz. bottles)
Navy Hill has cute packaging and a slightly higher price. It has a gentle fizz and a less intense flavor that makes it appropriate for adding to cocktails other than a G&T, since its flavor won’t overwhelm the balance of flavors in a more complicated cocktail. This is a good option for people who are skeptical of tonic water, or for those who don’t like bitterness or too much fizz.
Best Budget: Schweppes ($1.65 for 1 L)
Schweppes tonic has a stronger flavor than some of the more expensive options, but if you like a good does of bitterness in your tonic, it’s a good option. It has strong bubbles and is well-priced, but the only downside is that it usually comes in fairly large bottles that tend to go flat before you can finish them.
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