To say gin is having a moment would underestimate the swell of its popularity. With new producers popping up every other week, and the spirit’s ability to be constantly reinvented, gins can be as varied as they are delicious. Maybe you like your gin fruity, or floral, or spicy, or herbal. Whatever your preference, you can find a gin to match. But tonic? That’s another story.
This is what Fever-Tree co-founders Charles and Tim realised one day: gin lovers were chasing down a bottle to match their mood and palate, and pairing it with the very same tonic every time – and not a good quality one at that.
Traditionally made from quinine, tonic water started out as medicine: a natural remedy to malaria. Quinine is extracted from the ground up bark of the cinchona tree, originally from Peru, and was very expensive due to its scarcity and ability to hold off malaria. The nickname given to this prized tree was the ‘Fever-Tree’, and Andy Gaunt, General Manager of Fever-Tree Australia & New Zealand, says this is what inspired their brand name.
After two years in development, Fever-Tree’s Premium Indian Tonic Water launched in 2005, and they now produce eight different styles of tonic so you can custom match them to your favourite gin. Andy says it was a very simple premise to fill a big hole in the drinks market. “Flavour and quality were of the utmost importance, and that’s the belief we still operate by today,” he says. “If three quarters of your drink is the mixer, wouldn’t you want it to be the best?”
Their goal is to make drinks taste better and, while juniper is at the heart of every gin, not all gins taste the same. This diverse spirit can be made with a variety of spices and botanicals.
“When we first started," Andy says, "gin was generally juniper forward and robust - London Dry gins - which work well with the bittersweet Indian tonics we grew up with. However now gins are lighter, softer, floral and fruity, even savoury and spicy, and our range of tonics better enhance the diversity of modern day gin.”
Fever-Tree have worked hard to design the right combinations of botanical oils with spring water and quinine from the 'fever trees' of the eastern hill ranges of the Democratic Republic of Congo, each one created to enhance different flavours of gin. So how do you know which tonic suits which gin?
“We have created a simple way of segmenting gins by common flavour characteristics,” says Andy. “We have developed a tonic for each segment that we believe brings out the best of gins that share similar styles and flavour characters. Of course, taste is personal, so we recommend gin lovers start with the tonic they like most and discover their own preferred pairing.”
To mix some perfect pairings, we asked Christian Blair, expert mixologist and owner of Annata in Crows Nest, Sydney, to design us some gin and tonics that are out of this world!
Never Never 'Southern Strength' Gin with Indian Tonic & Lemon
Served in the RIEDEL Barware Shadows Tumbler
A classic gin and tonic - nothing crazy or weird here. A solid and high quality combination for those that love this traditional mix.
Archie Rose Dry Gin with Mediterranean Tonic & Tangelo
Served in the RIEDEL Bar Drink Specific Glassware Rocks glass
A classic styled, lightly flavoured gin that leaves a lot of room for experimentation; we added the Mediterranean Tonic because it has a more complex profile. Tangelo, because why not? It's in good season at the moment.
'Gin Garden': Dasher + Fisher Meadow Gin with Elderflower Tonic
Served in the Spiegelau Specialty Gin and Tonic
This is a take on the modern classic cocktail called the Gin Garden
15ml Sugar Syrup (1:1 Sugar/Water)
15ml Lime Juice
Pinch of Mint
Slice of Cucumber
- Muddle solids
- Add liquids, shake and strain over ice
- Top with Fevertree Elderflower Tonic, and serve with slice of cucumber
West Winds 'Broadside' Gin with Elderflower Tonic, Aloe Vera & Green Apple
Served in the Spiegelau Perfect Serve Collection Long Drink
Broadside is a high alcohol, big flavour spicy gin, the elderflower serves to temper that a little bit, and this is mirrored by the addition of the green apple and aloe.
Manly Spirits Coastal Gin with Refreshingly Light Tonic, Grapefruit & Lemon Thyme
Served in the RIEDEL Bar Drink Specific Glassware Highball glass
A delicate yet complex gin, matched with a light tonic, and gentle citrus and herb characters.
Brookies 'Slow' Gin with Aromatic Tonic, Orange & Blood Sorrel
Served in the RIEDEL Optical O Gin Glass
Brookies 'Slow' is an Australian take on a Slow Gin using foraged Davidson Plum, which lends it a unique bittersweet flavour. We matched it to the Aromatic tonic as the drier, bitter addition to the Aromatic tonic fit the profile better. Orange was added as it has a little more sweetness to the balance, and the Sorrel has a slight, barely noticeable bitter edge but also (importantly) looks great with it.
ADL Hills Distillery 'Green Ant' Gin with Mediterranean Tonic, Lime & Nasturtium
Served in the Spiegelau Perfect Serve Collection Double Old Fashioned
The Green Ant Gin has a light Coriander/Citrus Character and the Herbaceous Mediterranean Tonic flavour fills the gaps here, accentuated by the peppery Nasturtium and the acidity of the lime.