Top 10 award-winning tonics and mixers
Quality is key in the world of spirit and mixer match-making but with so many options on the market, how do you know you’re picking the best for your drink?
To take away the risk, our judges gathered in London to see what the market has to offer in the 2023 edition of The Tonic & Mixer Masters, and determine which are the best of the best.
The competition was split into two groups, the first of which was led by Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business, and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Competitions. She was joined by Anne Jones, drinks experience and events at Waitrose, and Alan Uresti, head of mixology at Annabel’s in London.
Team two comprised Matt Chambers, spirits writer and co-founder of the Whisky For Everyone blog, who chaired the panel. Chambers was accompanied by: Rosie Lees, co-founder of Nineteen94 agency; Sarah Miller, founder of the Gin A Ding Ding blog; and Evan Prousaefs, bar manager at Sexy Fish in London.
Keep reading to find out what came out on top.
Thomas Henry Soda Water
The competition kicked into gear with the opening Soda Water flight, in which two Gold medals were awarded. One of those went to Thomas Henry, a repeat winner in this competition, for its Soda Water. The bottling was praised for having “lovely palate weight from plentiful bubbles”. And let’s face it, it’s the bubbles that count in this category.
Thomas Henry Mystic Mango
Thomas Henry continued its winning streak throughout the competition’s categories, and scooped a Master medal in the Flavoured/Infused Carbonated Mixers section for its Mystic Mango expression.
“Boom,” said Chambers, “tonnes of fresh mango pulp on the nose, lovely fizz and very nice, natural mango notes on the palate. Sweetness holds well.”
This perfectly balanced bottling boasts a fruity combination of deliciously sweet mango and the exotic, sweet-sour note of pitanga fruit, making it the perfect premium mixer for exotic tiki drinks.
Franklin & Sons Premium Indian Tonic Water
You can rarely go wrong with an Indian tonic water for your G&T, and this Gold-medal-winning bottle from Franklin & Sons is one you can rely on for such an occasion.
The combination of natural botanicals and citrus flavours, sparkling spring water and the finest cinchona bark extract are blended to make this delicate expression. All that’s left to do is pick your perfect gin to go with it.
Wildleaf Lumière – Juniper Tonic
Taking Gold for the second year in a row is Wildleaf’s Lumière Juniper Tonic, which has less than 3% sugar and boasts a subtle balance of bitter botanicals and fruits to create an enjoyable dry tonic, perfect for pairing with a craft gin, or enjoying solo. The judges were especially impressed with its “nice floral and botanical notes”.
Betty Buzz Tonic Water
While her gin-slinging husband has been busy winning football leagues, Gossip Girl actor Blake Lively has been winning awards of her own.
Her tonic and mixer brand Betty Buzz took home a collection of medals at this year’s blind tasting, with a Gold going to her tonic water, which was said to have a nice “citrusy, tang” to its profile, and was “slightly sweeter than regular tonic with more subtle quinine – overall, nicely done”.
In a recent ad for the brand, Lively partnered with an engineer to explain why Betty Buzz is ‘scientifically the best sparkling beverage in the world’. It’s to do with the bubbles, apparently…
Hammars Pink Tonic Grapefruit and Hibiscus
In the Flavoured Tonic Water round, the judges saw a serious jump in the quality of entries, as three Master medals were awarded, all of which were scooped up by Hammars Bryggeri.
One of those medals went to its Pink Tonic Grapefruit and Hibiscus expression. “Vibrant, fresh grapefruit on the nose”, the judges noted, while the palate delivered “fresh citrus and subtle hibiscus”.
Franklin & Sons Pineapple & Almond Soda
The Franklin & Sons Pineapple & Almond Soda blew the judges away with its “marzipan nose and pineapple-upside-down-cake” notes, leading to “tinned pineapples, and sugared almonds” on the palate.
They were so impressed with the “really tasty” profile, that the Tonic & Mixer Taste Master title was awarded to the expression.
If you pick up a bottle of your own, it is said to blend perfectly with fruit and coconut flavoured rums, or you could try it in an Almond Sgroppino, made by shaking 50ml Adriatico, 20ml Manchester Spirit vodka, 20ml lemon juice and 5ml ginger syrup over ice, straining into a Martini glass and topping with the award-winning soda.
Double Dutch Cucumber & Watermelon
A Gold medal was awarded to the “well made, beautifully balanced” Double Dutch Cucumber & Watermelon, which the brand says is its most popular mixer.
The Double Dutch twins combine juicy watermelon with cucumber’s super-smooth freshness to create a mixer that sings with a gin, or as a component in a summer Spritz. It’s also said to be the perfect serve with light rums, citric gins and white wine.
Longbottom & Co Virgin Mary
Whether you like your Bloody Marys boozy or otherwise, a good version of this brunch staple depends on the quality of the tomato juice, and seasoning is key. The team at Longbottom have nailed it, so much so that our judges awarded it a Master medal in the Non-Carbonated Mixer heat.
Miller praised the mixer’s “pickled vegetal notes on the nose alongside classic tomato aroma. Some spice on the palate, a nice level of salt and pepper, good long finish and lots of complexity.”
East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic Water
To create this Grapefruit Tonic, the East Imperial team have taken the South East Asian pomelo, which delivers a deep rich orange note, and carefully blended it with ruby red grapefruit, resulting in a tonic that delivers the ultimate citrus balance.
The expression won a Gold medal in the Flavoured/Infused Carbonated Mixer category, and is said to pack a rounded and lavish initial palate, with plenty of pomelo and citrus oil notes. The finish boasts a generous hit of ruby red grapefruit zest.