Wed 18 May 2011
This year it’s the turn of Fentimans Tonic Water, which I discovered a few weeks ago at Fresh Market. The company dates back to 1905 and has long been known in Great Britain as a producer of superior, quite gingery Ginger Beer, of which I am also very fond, and other soda-type beverages, including a Dandelion and Burdock variety that I wish were imported to these shores, and if it is, let me know. Tonic water is a late addition to the roster, but you must, if you’re now in gin and tonic mode, search it out. Fentimans is unlike any other tonic water I have tried, being actually rather savory as well as spicy and paradoxically slightly sweet/peppery/austere; besides quinine, it contains lemon oil and lemongrass, all combining for a piney, bitter, uplifting quality that both sustains the gin and cuts through it like a blade.
The squat brown bottle holds 9.3 fluid ounces, compared to the 6.8 fluid ounces of a bottle of Fever Tree, yet each costs $5.99 for a four-pack. (Fever Tree is available at Whole Foods.) Fentimans is obviously designed to fuel two tall drinks, while Fever Tree is perfect for short drinks the way I make gin and tonics for LL and me. Do we prefer one over the other? Not really. In fact, I’ve been alternating on the days when we have time after work to sit on the back porch with a gin and tonic and a bowl of something snacky, so one time we’ll have a drink with the more elegant, acerbic, high-toned Fever Tree and the next time with the more earthy, savory Fentimans. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.