We’re not one for buying into marketing slogans, but this one from Fever Tree got our attention: "If three-quarters of your drink is the mixer, make sure you use the best."
While the variety of gin has expanded in recent years (our favourites include Monkey 47, Tanqueray Ten, Sipsmith and Martin Miller), its main mixer – the humble tonic water – has remained in shockingly short supply.
Left with two (well, one really) option up until recently, the introduction of the artisanal style Fever Tree-range of tonic and mixers is long overdue.
Fever Tree is proof that not all tonics are created equal. The brand's tonic water and other products (see below) set the bar very, very high, with its use of artisanal ingredients: cinchona (the main ingredient to make quinine) from East Congo, lemon from Sicily, ginger from the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cochin... the list is endless.
The brand's co-founder Tim Warrillow said: "No one had looked at the tonic water market, ingredients got lost along the way and no one was talking about the taste and flavour. Yet there’s all these amazing spirits but no alternative mixers."
How good are the products? Renown Spanish chef Ferran Adria – a gin lover – made it into a dish at elBulli: soupa de Fever Tree tonica.
Not everyone can be Adria, but here are our recommendations on pairings for some of Fever Tree’s products.
Premium Indian Tonic Water
Soft, gentle counterpart
Unlike other tonic waters in the market, its effervessence does not overwhelm the subtle flavours of the tonic or the gin. The natural quinine flavours are soft, allowing your choice of gin or vodka to blossom on your tongue. Good thing the formula works, because securing the quinine supply was hardly straightforward for Fever Tree. We won’t go into it, but just know that it comes from a remote plantation in Congo and a rocket launcher was sighted.
Drink it with: Drink it alone, it’s that good. See if you can taste the hints of Tanzanian bitter orange or coriander. If you do pair it with an alcohol, try an infused spirit such as the Junipero Gin or Bakon Vodka.
Naturally Light Indian Tonic Water
A non-substitute that can stand on its own
To find a low calorie tonic (40 calories) is virtually impossible, to find one that doesn’t leave behind an annoying cloying aftertaste? No guesses which is our favourite. The use of fruit sugars is a difference maker. Allow yourself time to breathe in the scent of this lightly, flowery tonic and appreciate that there’s no sacchrine used.
Drink it with: Monkey 47 Gin. This high quality, complex gin with 47 botanics deserves a similarly perfect tonic that allows the botanics to breathe, come alive and taste its complexity.
Full-bodied, spicy drink
A blend of ginger from three areas – Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cochin – that is extracted once the ginger is pulled from the ground and eventually brewed. The resulting flavour is natural, full bodied with just a hint of spice at the end.
Drink it with: Alone, if you want to sample the full citrus flavours. Or with a spicy dark rum where the intense ginger beer flavours neutralise the heaviness that is sometimes associated with rum-based drinks. A Dark & Stormy will always do the trick. We love that long after we’ve finished our drink, a subtle taste of ginger lingers on.
Clear, not salty
Neutral to the taste with just a mid-level efferversence, this is not too salty like some other soda waters we’ve taste. The reason is that the water comes from a fresh spring in Northern England where the carbonation process is of utmost importance.
Drink it with: For a real English drink, pair it with a Great King Street whisky and a slice of lemon. You really don’t need more. The softness of the soda serves to enhance the robust whisky.
The Fever Tree range can be bought at Fine Spirits by La Maison du Whisky at $55 for 24 bottles of 200ml each.
Fine Spirits by La Maison du Whisky | Address:#01-10, The Pier, 80 Mohamed Sultan Road | Tel: 67330059 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat noon-midnight; bar 6pm-midnight