What makes these simple cocktails more than simply enjoyable are the tonic water and club soda from Fever Tree. The biggest reason that gin and tonics, in particular, have gotten much tastier is because of the availability of high-quality commercial tonic water, most notably the Fever Tree brand, found in nearly every somewhat serious establishment these days. As Justin Vann, a proprietor of the excellent Public Services downtown mentioned to me after I complemented him on the tastiness of their gin-and-tonic some time ago that it’s mostly because of the quality of the tonic water, as the drink is mostly tonic water, after all. Something I had somehow hadn’t really realized before that.
The current crop of tonic waters from Fever Tree are: Indian, Mediterranean, Elderflower, Aromatic, Lemon, Light Cucumber, and Citrus, along with light versions of a few flavors. In addition to club soda, the non-tonic products are Sparkling Pink Grapefruit, Ginger Beer, Ginger Ale, Smoky Ginger Ale, Spiced Ginger Ale and Sparkling Lemon soda. All crafted for high quality mixing.
Recently, I’ve had very good luck with the Citrus tonic water. Light, but noticeably nicely zesty and expectedly a bit citrusy, it’s made with two types of limes, tangerines and a bitter orange, all sourced in Mexico. Made specifically to match with Patrón Silver Tequila – not my favorite of the blanco tequilas – I’ve found that it paired wonderfully with a pretty good London dry gin. A friend really enjoys Fever Tree’s cucumber one with the cucumber-accented Hendricks gin. At the upscale Spanish BCN, I’ve had the best gin and tonics in my life, most featuring a Fever Tree tonic water. Just a couple that I’ve had there include ones made with the Elderflower flavor, with lavender grapes, lemon and thyme, and another with the Mediterranean, with a prominent sprig of rosemary, olives, and sea salt. BCN poured only part of the small bottle of the tonic water into the glass to start and you can add more along the way. At BCN, this actually makes the drink more enjoyable as you consume more of it, even as the portion of alcohol in each sip diminishes. It's something that I’ve taken to doing at home.
Though the club soda only comes in one version, unlike the tonic waters, when mixed with a decent Irish whiskey, it makes for a much more pleasant and a more flavorful experience than with using one of the supermarket staple club sodas. For me, it’s worth the additional tariff to spend – about $5 for a four-pack of 6-ounce bottles at Spec’s – on both the Fever Tree club soda and tonic waters. A whiskey and soda and gin and tonic are much more club soda and tonic water than anything else, after all.