Q Tonic

Darcy O'Neil :: May 30, 2007 9:13 PM

Q-tonicA few weeks ago I wrote about the classic Gin & Tonic and looked at one of its key ingredients, gin. At the time my choices for tonic water were limited to Schwepps and Canada Dry. Now both of those are pretty standard tonic water but, with the cocktail revolution in full swing, it would make sense that a number of boutique makers of tonic water would join the market. Luckily, I am happy to announce that Q Tonic has just released a batch of their Q Tonic tonic water. Currently it will only be available at select location in New York until the end of the summer, at which point it should be more widely available.

Most tonic water is made from synthetic quinine and high fructose corn syrup. Why? Because it is cheaper to produce and most people don’t care because they don’t have anything to compare too. Q Tonic isn’t a mass produced product, it’s made in small batches using natural cinchona bark, which is the original source of quinine. The part that I really like is the use of agave as the sweetener. I’m assuming they are using agave syrup. Q Tonic also includes lemon extract and natural flavours to round out the flavour.

All of the ingredients sound nice, but the true test is a taste test. The first step was to try Q Tonic on the rocks, and then with a squeeze of lime. On its own Q Tonic is pleasant with the sweetness up front and the bitterness from the quinine following behind. Adding a squeeze of lime makes for a very refreshing drink on a hot summer day, by cutting the sweetness back just a bit. Now when I talk about sweetness, it is not as sweet as other products like Canada Dry Tonic Water, so you can drink Q Tonic on its own. I do recommend a lime if you want to drink it on the rocks.

The next test is to try it in a Gin & Tonic. Please refer to my previous article on the Gin and Tonic for a full discussion, and some great comments. For this tasting I used Plymouth Gin, my standby gin, and a nice wedge of fresh lime. I cut my limes into sixth’s, so don’t skimp if you want a good G&T. Of course I packed my 12 oz glass full of fresh ice.

Gin & Tonic
1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
2–3 oz Q Tonic
Lime Wedge

Add the gin to the glass packed with ice, squeeze lime and drop the wedge into the glass. Top with Q Tonic.

In the G&T the subtle sweetness is up front, then the gin flavours come through with a finish of bitter quinine. The combination of gin and lime tempers the sweetness of the Q Tonic to make for a well balanced drink.

I would describe Q Tonic as elegantly subtle. The sweetness is a little more present if you drink Q Tonic straight, but once you mix it with the gin and lime it is perfectly in balance. For me this is the perfect tonic water. It isn’t aggressively bitter or sweet, it is just right.

The only comment I have, that isn’t glowing, is that on the Q Tonic website their recipe for a Gin & Tonic only calls for 3 ice cubes. For me, I need a glass packed full of ice, especially in the summer. I find, in a gin and tonic, the ice plays as important a role as the lime wedge. So, pack your glasses full of ice and enjoy.

You can find more information at the Q Tonic webiste.

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