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The Importance of Better Tonic Water

May 13, 2010

I mean, C'mon! Doesn't this just look like air-conditioning in a glass?

Folks, I’d like to take a minute a shine a light on something often overlooked; tonic water.  Yes, that bitter mixer that makes your G ‘N T (or V ‘N T, R ‘N T, T ‘N T, etc…) in fact, a “insert desired letter here” and (…wait for it….) “T”.   I never would have given tonic water a second thought…until my eyes were opened one sweltering, hot summer evening last year. 

You are hearing it from me first…but I call shenanigans!  Yes, SHENANIGANS, pulled by every major beverage company that
“pops” out tonic water (pun intended…)  You see, tonic water — a not-so-recent invention in the long history of “beverages” — was created in 1638. The wife of the Spanish Viceroy in Peru, had fallen violently ill with malaria. Her husband begged the local Incas for an antidote. In a show of generosity, the Incas instructed her to drink a potion containing the ground bark of the native “Quinquina” tree, which grew on the slopes of the Andes. The potion worked and she quickly recovered.  Fast forward to 1825, when some mixology-minded British officers in the Indian Army improved their bitter anti-malaria medicine—Peruvian quinine extract—by mixing it with soda water, sugar, and gin (doctors everywhere are collectively shaking their heads right now), and lo-an-behold, the Gin and Tonic was born.  Demand for the bark grew as supply dwindled…people got rich, angry, and ultimately, creative (read the details here.)  And thus, synthetic quinine was invented.

So…shenanigans??  YES!  We’ve been duped into drinking synthetic quinine…until now (well, last summer in my case…)

(Enter stage left; to the fanfare of trumpets, cherubs singing and confetti galore) Q Tonic; A Superior Tonic Water.

It was a humid summer night, and I was heading home after work.  I popped in to Whole Foods for something, and got to wandering.  I drifted into the soda/chips and nuts aisle, and immediately got distracted by some amazing package design  (I am a sucker for good package and/or graphic design.)  So, in a haze of graphic design euphoria and an urge to impulsively purchase things, I dropped $8  and a ended up with a 4 pack of tiny bottles.  Halfway home I realized what I had done.  Oops, oh well.  Damage done.  Let’s have a gin and tonic!  I almost pooped my pants when I first tried it (please, forgive the potty humor.)  I can remember clearly the last time I had a gin and tonic before this.  It was a few years ago.  At a bar.  With friends.  Debauchery ensued.  And I couldn’t get that, puckery, tongue coating, furry bitterness out of my mouth.  For a whole day (though that may have been a hangover effect, but I clearly remember that feeling from the night before.) It was like I licked a sheep that had been dipped in fresh ground quinine.  Ugh.  But this stuff…this tonic was different.  Tiny, dancing carbonated bubbles skipped across my tongue, leaving a faint reminder of candy, buffered by a lemon-oil bitterness.   Paired with a good gin,  ohh my.  It’s like instant air-conditioning for the soul. 

So, for the sake of all that is holy, get off the synthetic Schweppes ship, and drink something natural (and by natural, I mean, ultimately from nature.  Not some marketing scheme….read more here.)  Though it may not be the most “cost-effective” mixer out there, it certainly makes a better drinking experience.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Catie permalink
    May 13, 2010 6:18 am

    I guess one is never to old to learn something new……..that was a very interesting, eye opening, and humorous post! Thanks for the tip, I’ll let all of my gin and tonic drinking friends know.
    BTW, I do enjoy reading your posts, you are quite a writer!

  2. May 13, 2010 7:46 am


    Thank you for the kind words! I’ve really enjoyed writing for our blog. I’ll try to keep up the good work 🙂

    But seriously, it really is amazing how much natural quinine improves the tonic experience. Even my friend Lindsay, who is pretty much an anti-gin person, really enjoyed sipping on a gin and tonic made with Q (no, I am not referring to myself in the 3rd person –I have a good friend with the same name…)


  3. Andrew Mitchell permalink
    May 13, 2010 3:06 pm

    I’m all over it. I’ll grab some the next time I pop into Whole Foods to hand over my wallet.

    • May 13, 2010 3:24 pm

      Andy, I’m sure you’ll love it. I am working on getting a few cases for the store…will update the post when I get some in (fingers crossed?!?)

  4. June 29, 2010 5:19 pm

    Q TONIC IS HERE!!! Now come buy some…. 😉


  1. WOOOO HOOOOO Q!!!! « Message In A Bottle
  2. The Bitter Truth… « Message In A Bottle

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