15 Tonic Water Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

Tonic is the ultimate mixer, but not all tonic is created equal. While most people pay close attention to the spirit that's serving as the base of their drink, many people don't realize just how important it is to put equal care into selecting the beverage that's going to do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of providing both volume and flavor.

Historically used as a way to stave off malaria (via McGill University), tonic water is a carbonated bar staple (which is actually more akin to soda than water) that gets its signature flavor from quinine. Made from the bark of the Cinchona tree, quinine tastes bitter and medicinal — which is why the other key ingredient in tonic is some kind of sweetener.

The best tonics strike a nice balance between bitter and sweet and also incorporate other flavors like citrus to add depth and complexity. Most commonly mixed with gin for a classic G & T, it can also be paired with vodka, or even sipped on its own. Opting for a gin and tonic feels inherently classy and elevated, and the experience can be made even better with the right mixer (and of course, one of the best popular gin brands).

We've rounded up the best tonic water brands so that you'll know exactly where to turn the next time you want to indulge in this timeless, sophisticated staple.

15. Vintage

Vintage Tonic is affordable, with a 33.8 oz bottle of the stuff going for about $0.75. It also has fun, nostalgia-inducing packaging that makes you feel like you're picking up a cocktail mixer for a party in the 1970s. However, those are the only two things it really has going for it. While we're fans of the brand's seltzer water, the tonic simply falls flat (pun intended).

One of our main qualms with Vintage Tonic is that it's only sold in large plastic bottles, which means unless you plan on using a lot of tonic all at once, the bubbles aren't going to stick around — and no one likes flat tonic water. The flavor is also decidedly artificial and doesn't provide the signature complexity that helps give the tonic its sophisticated appeal. Add that to the fact that the overly sweet flavor comes from high fructose corn syrup instead of real sugar, and you've got a bottle of tonic that will do the trick if you're in a pinch, but which pales in comparison to other brands that taste better and are made with better ingredients.

14. Schweppes

Many people associate the flavor of the tonic with the flavor of Schweppes because it's so prevalent and easy to find. The brand has been around since 1783, so its ubiquitous nature is easy to understand. Unfortunately, the flavor of this one can be summed up as a flat, one-note sweetness (which comes from high fructose corn syrup, not sugar).

There is a time and place for everything, and in this case, Schweppes can be a totally respectable choice for someone who's just beginning to dip their toes into the world of bittersweet beverages. Its sugary, soda-like qualities make it easy to slurp down G & T after G & T, but be sure to watch out for a gin and sugar-induced hangover the next day.

Schweppes works perfectly fine on an airplane, or at a dive bar as a mixer for house gin, but we don't recommend pairing it with a pour of the good stuff. On the other hand, the brand's ginger ale is a different story.

13. Fentimans

As the first brand of tonic water to be "botanically brewed," Fentimans Premium Indian Tonic Water is very herbal and distinct. The unique flavor is derived from the addition of various infusions like juniper, Kaffir lime, Sicilian lemon oil, and lemongrass extract, along with regular suspects like sugar and quinine.

This tonic has strong citrus notes, and the powerful flavors can clash with some gins. This brand's tonic isn't as easy to drink as some, but those who gravitate toward very botanical flavors will likely enjoy it. It can certainly work well in some situations, but it isn't as versatile (or easy to get your hands on) as other options.

That said, the depth of flavor from the botanicals can make it a nice stand-alone option when you don't want booze. Just add a squeeze of lemon and you'll have an easy, tasty mocktail.

Fentimans has been making mixers since 1905 and has been a family-owned brand since its inception. The brand also offers a Light Tonic and a Pink Grapefruit version.

12. East Imperial

Quinine lovers, this one's for you. East Imperial Tonic is one of the most unique and authentic options out there, as it boasts a very high level of quinine. In fact, it has the highest level of quinine of any tonic on the market, according to the brand — which makes this a great pick for serious tonic aficionados.

The quinine is balanced with notes of Thai lemongrass and Manao lime, which give it a nice citrusy kick. The brand recommends pairing it with a gin that's either citrus-forward or with a traditional London Dry style gin (Beefeater London Dry Gin is a good bet). The idea behind East Imperial Tonic is to recreate the tonics of another era, so sipping on a G & T made with this will make you feel like you've been transported back a few centuries.

The downside is that it's hard to find, and the only place to buy it is on Amazon. It's also not for the faint of heart; the hefty dose of quinine makes it too bracing for some.

11. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.

This one isn't tonic water, per se, but rather a syrup you can mix with club soda. Jack Rudy Classic Tonic Syrup is a fun and creative way to go the extra mile with a classic G & T.

Jack Rudy is a small, family-owned company that makes a unique line of products like syrups, bitters, mixers, cocktail tools, and even pantry staples like olive oil. Its products lean into the craft, small batch approach, and a bottle of this tonic syrup make a great gift for cocktail lovers, home bartenders, or anyone who appreciates being able to customize their beverage.

The benefit of using syrup rather than a traditional tonic is that you can control how strong of a flavor you want. Add just a little for a mild, light, and low-sugar beverage, or use a heavy hand for a more robust flavor. Although this is a fun novelty item, at the end of the day, having to mix it is one extra step, so it's not practical in every case.

10. Seagram's

Seagram's is a staple that earns its place in the middle of the pack. This tonic has a pretty neutral flavor — and is by no means bad — but it doesn't have many distinctive qualities that set it apart from the competition.

Known for its ginger ale, Seagram's non-alcoholic line was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2002 (via The New York Times). There's also a line of Seagram's gins, but that's owned by liquor giant Pernod Ricard.

This brand is a nice pick because it's easy to find in grocery stores and in the mixer aisle of liquor stores, and it works well with most gins. We don't love that it's made with high fructose corn syrup, which doesn't taste as good to us as other sweeteners, but it still isn't as sticky-sweet as some other large brands. There are a variety of sizes of cans and bottles to choose from, so it's as well-suited for mixing up a single bold gin and tonic at the end of a long day as it is for use at a busy cocktail bar.

9. Owen's

You can't miss this brand's mule-emblazoned packaging (which pays tribute to the Moscow Mule), and the Owen's American Tonic tonic is a nice American-style option. Made with a splash of citrus, it's refreshing, crisp, and a totally respectable choice. This straightforward option works well as a mixer, or it's nice enough to sip on its own.

With no artificial ingredients and real cane sugar, you can feel good about reaching for this one. The brand also takes pride in offering mixers that are lower in sugar than most carbonated drinks, which is a pro in our opinion when it comes to a good tonic.

The brand also partners with an organization called Folds of Honor, which works to support military families in the U.S. It's also worth checking out some of Owen's other unique mixers. Its non-alcoholic Espresso Martini Mix is truly one of a kind, and the company has other unexpected products such as hybrid ginger ale and grape juice blend.

8. Buzbee's

If you want a tonic brand that offers variety, Buzbee's is for you. With flavors that include passionfruit, rhubarb, and elderflower, it's not hard to spice up your standard highball. For the tonic purists out there, Buzzbee's also offers a classic Indian tonic.

With varieties that pack a punch in terms of flavor, we recommend pairing one of Buzbee's fun iterations with vodka. This way, you won't have to worry about the botanical notes of gin clashing with the prominent notes of this mixer. There's also an incredibly useful pairing guide on the brand's website, which can help you if you aren't sure which spirit to mix with, say, passionfruit tonic (it recommends Malibu Caribbean White Rum, 7 J.J Whitley Potato Vodka, or Boe Passion Gin).

This bee-centric brand sweetens its products with honey and works to protect bees through sustainable and ethical practices. It supports the bee population and strives to educate consumers about its mission.

7. Whole Foods 365

Whole Foods' house brand does a nice job of keeping things flavorful enough for tonic consumers, but likable enough that it won't be off-putting to those who aren't used to craft brands. Unlike some other large brands, this one contains zero high fructose corn syrup.

It has a nice clean, crisp flavor that works well with most gins, vodkas, or even on its own. The Whole Foods 365 line, which also has a store in Brooklyn, is more affordable than many of the products the retail giant has on offer, so you don't have to worry about blowing your budget with this one, either.

The downside is that it's only sold in 12-ounce cans, but that just means you'll need to whip up at least two beverages when you use this as a mixer (which, in our opinion, can also be seen as a good thing). Having a few cans of this in your fridge is perfect for when unexpected company stops by and you want to offer them a beverage, or for tucking in a cooler for a weekend adventure.

6. Boylan

This is a craft option that's worth the steep price point because it has a very layered flavor composition. Boylan Heritage Tonic is bitter, sweet, citrusy, and even a little sour. It's fresh and crisp and has zippy, fine bubbles that keep things light and refreshing. We won't lie — the sleek packaging is also part of this craft brand's allure.

Boylan isn't new to concocting tasty mixers. The company has been around since 1891 when it originally began selling birch beer. Since then, the company has expanded its offerings to include craft soda flavors like black cherry and root beer, and of course, tonic. Soda lovers will appreciate the brand's dedication to using glass bottles (soda just tastes better that way) and pure cane sugar. We also appreciate the fact that all of its products have twist-off caps, so you don't have to worry about remembering a bottle opener.

This tonic is perfect for special occasions and is an appropriate choice for when you want to enjoy something that feels and tastes luxurious.

5. San Pellegrino

San Pellegrino Tonica is an incredible choice for solo sipping. Sometimes you want something that's dry and multifaceted, but that doesn't contain booze — and this brand's offerings fit the bill. There are two variations of this tonic: Citrus and Darkwood. They are very different, but both have zippy, dry, and crisp notes in common.

The Citrus Tonica stays true to its name. It's heavy on the orange peel and lemon, but not in an overbearing or overpowering way. The Darkwood Tonica is more in-your-face since it's made with a signature oak extract that adds a hefty dose of intensity.

San Pellegrino is an Italian brand known for its sparkling mineral water, and we think having a bottle on the table makes any dinner feel fancier. The same goes for using the brand's tonic — opting for one of these is a simple way to elevate anything from a mocktail to a boozy beverage.

4. Betty Buzz

As an "American-style tonic," we like Betty Buzz because it's a lot lighter than some of its syrupy, heavy competitors. The fun, red packaging practically begs you to pick up a four-pack, but this brand has more going for it than just aesthetics.

In terms of flavor, this one is a pretty middle ground. It's not super sweet, but the bitterness won't make you question why you're drinking it, either. With no unpleasant aftertaste, this is a tonic that drinks almost like seltzer.

The story of the brand's creation is equally compelling. It was created by actress Blake Lively, whose husband, Ryan Reynolds, has his own brand of gin called Aviation. Blake Lively herself doesn't drink, which is why she's dedicated to offering a non-alcoholic option that's made with just as much care as booze brands.

Another great thing about Betty Buzz is that it's only 50 calories a bottle, and it's sweetened with agave. You can't find this brand everywhere, but if you see it in the mixer aisle, we recommend scooping up a pack (or you can order it online).

3. Spectacular Q

With its dry and mild flavor, this is a good choice for those who really want to taste the nuanced botanicals in their gin. Q Spectacular Tonic Water is delicious, and it's made even more unique by the fact that it's sweetened with organic agave — and the brand only adds a tad of the sweet stuff. The result is a tonic that is light, dry, and entirely mixable.

The brand uses quinine from the Peruvian Andes, to which the Cinchona tree is native, and prides itself on offering a tonic with a very high level of carbonation. All of the ingredients in Q Spectacular Tonic are natural, and there are no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives in this bubbly bottle.

Q Spectacular takes the approach that, if your gin is good, your tonic should be just as tasty. Trust us, you'll taste the difference when you opt for this over a run-of-the-mill, overly-sweet alternative.

2. Canada Dry

Canada Dry is by no means the most artisanal option. However, it offers a great mix of affordability, accessibility, and quality. It's not the driest or most nuanced tonic in the world, but you can find it almost everywhere — and it consistently delivers.

Most importantly, Canada Dry is a crowd-pleaser. It's sweet enough to be approachable, but not so sweet that you feel like you're giving yourself a cavity when you indulge in a gin and tonic made with this mixer. Sometimes, you just want a familiar flavor that won't overwhelm your palate, and this tonic is ideal for those moments.

Unfortunately, the American version is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (its Canadian counterpart is not), but the flavor of quinine still shines through enough to provide balance.

The next time you find yourself jonesing for a crisp gin and tonic, but you don't want to go on a wild goose chase for a craft mixer (or spend $4 on a tiny bottle), you can rest assured that Canada Dry will do the trick.

1. Fever-Tree

Fever-Tree rings in at No. 1 because it provides the quality you can truly taste — even if you're just adding a splash to your favorite spirit. This brand is a little more high-end than some, but it's worth it for the balanced flavor and subtle hint of sweetness that compliments other ingredients rather than overpowers them.

Fever-Tree sources its quinine from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it only uses natural ingredients. The brand offers several varieties of tonics, but the Classic Indian Tree is our go-to tonic. This variety features a hint of citrus from bitter Mexican orange oil, as well as other botanicals.

We love how clean this tonic tastes, and how it doesn't feel like you're destroying the integrity of a top-shelf gin when you use it as a mixer. The variety this brand offers is also a huge draw. You can reach for its Mediterranean Tonic to pair with a savory, herbaceous gin, or you can go with its Elderflower Tonic to pair with a more floral gin.