Which Tonic Is for You? The Bitterness Guide.

In our bars we find that quite a large amount, probably around 25% of customers (who get dragged in kicking and screaming by their Gin loving friends) say that “I don’t like gin!”

Our usual reply is, “Yes you do, you just haven’t had the right one”  most of their experience of gin is with a certain un-named gin and  un-named tonic. In the bar, we can give samples of gins and mixers, which in 99% of cases results in our favourite phrase “OMG I didn’t know Gin tasted like that”

From those that “Don’t Like Gin” 20% prefer a Fruity Gin but still like tonic. the other 80% have the same reaction. They enjoy the first 2-3 seconds of the gin and tonic then screw their face up shouting “I told you I didn’t Like Gin!”

That for us is actually good news as that is the response to the bitter quinine in tonic and we are well down the path of introducing a new customer to the wonderment of Gin.

Hence our guide to where the different Tonics and Mixers stand in Bitterness Levels. We have scaled our rankings at 1-5. 1 being no bitterness and 5 is bitter.

We start with the 1’s

Lemonade. Obviously no bitterness here! We recommend fever Tree Lemonade or Schweppes. Be careful when adding lemonade quantities as it quickly overpowers a dry gin. However, mixed with something like Raspberry Ripple or Boe Violet, it’s quite delicious.

Sparkling Fruit Water. There are lots of fruity waters around these days, however, like lemonade, can quickly overpower a gin. We find the Tesco “hints of” work best as the flavours aren’t so dominant. For a dry gin, try a lemon or orange, or a berry one for the berry gins.

Ginger Ale We use Fever Tree Ginger Ale in our bars and it’s very popular. It goes well with rhubarb Gins in particular. Our favourite is Rhubarb Crumble which has hints of smooth Vanilla.

Onto level 2

Here we start moving round the branded tonics and flavours within the brands. Elderflower and Cucumber version’s tend to be less bitter. Double Dutch are a company that recognised that not everybody likes a bitter tonic.

Fentimans Mediterranean Orange Tonic Goes with any Citrus Gin

Double Dutch Skinny Tonic Goes with any Gin

Double Dutch Indian Tonic Goes with any Gin

Double Dutch Pomegranate and Basil Goes well with most Herbaceous Gins

Double Dutch Cucumber and Watermelon Goes well with most dry gins for a long summer drink

Double Dutch Cranberry Goes well with Fruity Gins

Original Cherry Tonic Goes well with Bakewell Tart Gin in particular

Level 3

Original Berry Tonic Goes well with any berry gin, but in particular Berliner Brandstifter MOM or Brockmans

Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic goes well with a host of Herbaceous Gins

Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic goes with most dry or floral gins

Lamb and Watts Cucumber Tonic.  Slightly more bitter than Double Dutch, but still good in a long summer drink.

Thomas Henry Cherry Blossom Tonic

Thomas Henry Elderflower Tonic goes with most dry or floral gins

Peter Spanton No4 Chocolate Tonic Goes well with Mocha, Orange and Chocolate Gins

Thomas Henry Grapefruit Lemonade Goes with any gins containing grapefruit

Level 4

Lamb and Watts Basil Tonic Goes well with most Herbaceous Gins

Lamb and Watts Original Tonic

Lamb and Watts Hibiscus Tonic

Original Citrus Tonic

Original Yuzu Tonic Goes particularly well with Jinzu and other oriental gins

Original Classic Tonic

Fever Tree Indian Tonic


Level 5

Peter Spanton No1 London Tonic

Peter Spanton No5 Lemongrass Tonic

Peter Spanton No6 Cardamom Tonic

Thomas Henry Tonic

Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic

Fever Tree Naturally Light