What Exactly Is Tonic Water?

Tonic Water Mix | Strange Love

Chances are, at one point or another you have run into a beverage known as tonic water. Typically found next to seltzer at the grocery store, this unique beverage got its start as a medicinal aid. Today, however, most people drink it for its unique bitter flavour. If you have ever had a gin and tonic, you have experienced this taste firsthand.


The ingredient that is found in tonic water that provides its distinctive taste is quinine.

This medication has been used for years to treat a variety of different conditions. It is most commonly used for treating malaria. Other common conditions that people have used it for include arthritis, lupus, and restless leg syndrome. It also can be used to combat muscle cramps since it helps to relax the muscles, relieving any cramping sensations in the process.

This carbonated beverage first became commercially available in 1858. Since then, it has undergone quite a few changes. The amount of quinine in the beverage has been significantly reduced. Most modern brands of tonic water also contain added sweeteners such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar. These sweeteners help to cut the bitter taste of the quinine, making the beverage much more palatable.

Tonic Water | Strange Love

You can also find versions of tonic water that have added flavours.

For instance, many brands will add lemon or lime flavouring to help make the drink more appealing. Some people, however, don’t need these extra additives in order to enjoy the beverage. They like the taste just fine on its own. Like any other type of food or beverage, it is really a matter of personal taste.

If you have never tried tonic water before, you may discover that you love it or that you hate it, depending on whether or not you can tolerate bitter tasting drinks.


One interesting fact about tonic water is that it glows under blacklight.

The quinine has a tendency to fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. That can make it a fun addition to any party. Imagine serving gin and tonics to your guests and then dazzling them when you turn on a blacklight and make their drinks glow. The liquid takes on a beautiful turquoise-coloured glow that is really unique to see in person.

The FDA has regulated the amount of quinine that can be added to tonic water since quinine can have many unwanted side effects when taken in larger doses. Because of that, the amount in commercially available versions of this drink is quite small.

Still, tonic water is something that is probably best enjoyed in moderation. Not only does it make a great mixer for cocktails but it can also be used to treat minor conditions such as leg cramps or menstrual cramps.

You may want to try several different brands of tonic water to see which ones you like the best. Try some sweetened and some unsweetened versions to see whether or not the added sugar makes a difference.

Some people prefer plain tonic water whereas others prefer brands that have been sweetened or lightly flavoured.

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