DI Annual Bar Report: Tonic Water

01 February, 2017

There’s one brand that gets bar-called more than any other tonic, says Hamish Smith

The tonic gun has long been holstered in the world’s top bars – here, tonic comes in small premium bottles. More likely than any other to come out of the fridge, says our poll of 100 bars, is Fever-Tree. Once again, more than half our respondents name it their top tonic. As the first to ‘go premium’, Fever-Tree has expanded quickly and become the reference point for the category. Europe, where almost half our polled bars are based, is a stronghold for the brand, but it is now available in 50 markets.

The US, where 21% of our bars are based, will be the growth engine for premium tonic going forward. Last time we checked in on Fever-Tree co-founder Tim Warrillow, he reported the brand was growing in strong double digits in the all-important US market. Ominously for the rest of the tonic world, nearly two thirds of our sample of top bars said Fever-Tree was also the trending tonic. Essentially, we are moving beyond gin and tonic to gin and Fever-Tree.

Schweppes seems to be the slow-moving big ship in this race, but it’s gathering momentum. A couple of years ago it launched a premium range, billed vaguely as “using ingredients from natural origin” and this year owner Coca-Cola Enterprises has relaunched Schweppes’ standard range in a more bar-friendly 20cl bottle, drawing on the brand’s heritage as the “creator of bubbles since 1783”. Coca-Cola says it will be Schweppes’ biggest campaign in 20 years.

Fentimans, another early premium player, is again third with many bartenders polled opting for it as a second or third tonic option, rather than their go-to pour.



The Drinks International Annual Bar Report looks to gauge the buying habits of the best bars in the world by conducting a survey of their owners, head bartenders and bar managers.

The bars that took part – what we refer to as the best bars in the world – are a sample of 108 bars that finished in the top 250 places of the World’s 50 Best Bars survey, now owned by William Reed Business Media. Given the depth and scope of The World’s 50 Best Bars poll (voted for by 476 global bar experts) we feel this is the most credible place to source our sample of bars.

In each instance we asked the bartender to rank their three best selling products in each category, giving us an indication of the brands that are selling best.

As we know, a best selling brand, even in the best bars in the world, earns its place on more than taste, so we also wanted to know the brands that are not necessarily doing huge volumes but have cool-appeal right now. This is where the Trending brands come in. These are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth, or even on bartenders’ recommendations.

For more on the methodology see How we did it

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