What to Mix with Tonic Water: Refreshing Summer Cocktails

As summer approaches and temperatures rise, a refreshing cocktail is just the ticket after a long day. One of the most popular mixers is tonic water, known for its bitter flavor and quinine content. However, pairing tonic water with the right spirit and mixer can take your cocktail game to the next level. In this article, we’ll explore the best drinks to mix with tonic water for a refreshing taste of summer. So, let’s get started!

What is Tonic Water?

Tonic water is a carbonated beverage that originated in the 19th century, designed to be a medical treatment for malaria. It contains quinine, which was thought to have properties that fight off the disease. Today, tonic water is enjoyed as a mixer with various spirits and is known for its characteristic bitterness. In addition to quinine, the beverage contains sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, natural lemon or lime flavors, and purified water.

Gin and Tonic

The most well-known tonic water cocktail is the Gin and Tonic, a refreshing and straightforward drink that is perfect for a hot summer day. This cocktail is easy to make, requiring only gin, tonic water, and a slice of lime. There is no universal ratio when it comes to making a Gin and Tonic, but a 1:3 or 1:2 ratio of gin to tonic is recommended, depending on how strong you want the cocktail to be. Experiment with ratios until you find your perfect blend.

Flavored Gin and Tonic

If you’re looking for something different, consider a flavored Gin and Tonic. Adding fruit, herbs, or other aromatics can elevate this classic cocktail. A popular variation is the Grapefruit Gin and Tonic, which can be made by squeezing a grapefruit slice and dropping the wedge into the glass. Add ice, gin, and top with tonic water for a refreshing, bittersweet twist on this iconic drink.

Vodka and Tonic

If gin isn’t your thing, try swapping it with vodka for a more neutral taste. Vodka and tonic is a popular choice for those who enjoy a simple cocktail, but it can be easily elevated with flavored vodkas or mix-ins. For example, a cranberry vodka and tonic is a fruity and refreshing option. Simply pour cranberry flavored vodka over ice, add tonic and garnish with a lime. Another option is to replace the lime garnish with in-season fruit to keep your cocktail fresh and exciting.

Vodka Tonic with a Twist

Want to add some complexity to your vodka tonic? Try a twist on the classic by adding bitters. Angostura bitters work best, and only a few drops are needed to add a layer of flavorful depth. Pour your vodka over ice, add a few drops of bitters and top up with tonic water, stirring gently. Garnish with a slice of cucumber or a sprig of mint, and you’re good to go.

Rum and Tonic

While it may not be as widely known as the Gin and Tonic, rum and tonic is a delicious and refreshing alternative. White rum works best with tonic water, and it pairs well with tropical fruit flavors such as pineapple or mango. Mix your rum of choice, tonic water, and a splash of fresh squeezed lime juice. Add some mint or fresh fruit garnish for a tropical twist on this classic.

Dark n’ Stormy

While not technically a rum and tonic, the Dark n’ Stormy is a spin-off of the popular mix. Made by mixing dark rum and ginger beer, this spicy cocktail can also be made with tonic water. Simply mix dark rum, tonic water, and lime juice in a glass with ice for a sweet and sour cocktail.

Tequila and Tonic

While tequila is most commonly associated with margaritas, it’s also a fantastic spirit to add to tonic water. The two blend well to create a summery, refreshing drink. For a citrusy twist, try adding fresh squeezed grapefruit juice or orange liqueur. If you’re a fan of tequila’s smoky flavor, add a slice of jalapeno or a sprig of cilantro for a delicious variation.


A Paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail that blends tequila with grapefruit soda. A spin-off of this cocktail that works well with tonic water is to add fresh grapefruit juice instead of soda. Pour your tequila of choice over ice, add fresh grapefruit juice, and top with tonic water. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge for a slice of summer in a glass.


  • Q: What is the best ratio for a Gin and Tonic?
    A: The ultimate ratio is a matter of preference, but a 1:3 or 1:2 ratio of gin to tonic is recommended.
  • Q: Can I use flavored tonic water in my cocktails?
    A: Absolutely! Try different flavors such as elderflower or grapefruit to elevate your drink.
  • Q: Can I use diet tonic water in my cocktails?
    A: Yes, but keep in mind that the taste may differ slightly from regular tonic water.
  • Q: What are some good garnishes for tonic water cocktails?
    A: Citrus fruits such as lime, lemon or grapefruit, cucumber, mint, rosemary and basil are all great garnishes to try.


Whether you’re lounging poolside or hanging out on the patio, there’s nothing like an ice-cold cocktail to cool you down during the summer months. Tonic water, known for its bitter flavor and quinine content, is a popular mixer that can be paired with several spirits and flavors to create a refreshing drink. From the classic Gin and Tonic to the fruity and tropical Rum and Tonic, the possibilities are endless. Have fun experimenting and discovering your perfect pairing!


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