Brands Report: Tonic Water

31 January, 2018

It was inevitable that tonic water’s rise would continue to chase gin. Hamish Smith reports

When gin exploded, it was a fast fuse to tonic. Fentiman’s and Fever-Tree spotted the mixer boom first. Indeed, Fever-Tree was created for that exact reason, all the while market leader Schweppes was sleeping on its huge account base.

Fast forward to the age of premium tonic and interest in the category is so febrile, just one tonic isn’t enough for a bar. Indeed, while 100% of bars polled said they stocked a tonic (tonic syrup hasn’t made a mark yet…) three quarters said they stocked two brands and more than half had three or more. That means that, while there are many brands, there are many listing opportunities too.

Three-quarters of those polled stock Fever-Tree and almost 40% say it’s their default. Impressive work. The brand is now bossing the high-end bar channel globally but how long until its success counts against it? The fickle hipster must be a concern. Not according to our Trending chart. Almost a half of bars said it was the Trending tonic in their bars, which could be interpreted as Fever-Tree becoming a brand-call. That is the dream for many a bar brand – it’s what Schweppes had a decade or more ago and lost.

Schweppes may have lost some street cred, but it is still omnipresent. Around 40% of bars polled said they stocked the classic tonic and 17% said it was their first choice. Allied to this bedrock of global listing is a new focus on winning back bartenders through its 1783 range and a marketing budget smaller brands could only dream of.

About a fifth of bars polled said they stocked East Imperial from New Zealand and Thomas Henry of Germany. Both are part of Tonic 2.0 – a new breed for a discerning new customer. Three Cents is proving there is still room to grow and make a name – this year it went from Trending to Best Selling.



The results of this report are the culmination of a questionnaire of 106 bars around the world, each cherry-picked to take part based on their performance in global bar awards. We aim to find out not only which brands sell best but also what’s trending. These two data sets give us an insight into the brands that are doing the most volume and the brands that are hot right now.

To read more on the methodology of the Brands Report click here.

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