Best Kind of Bitter

Our favorite tonic waters and syrups for mixing in cocktails exhibit a range of flavors. This article first appeared in our June/July 2014 issue with Camper English's story "Miracle Cure."

tonic water, tonics, cocktail mixers, gin and tonic
Ingalls Photography

Tonic syrups, which get their brown hue from cinchona bark, are meant to be mixed with the spirit and soda water to create a gin and tonic. These include, from left, citrusy Small Hand Foods, deliciously bitter Wilks & Wilson, and woodsy TomR's. Bottled tonic waters are infused with purified quinine. Choose those sold in glass, which retains carbonation. Q Tonic is sweetened with agave, while Fever Tree uses cane sugar. Zesty Fentiman's is infused with kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass.