What is It?
Q Mixers brand themselves as the world’s best carbonated mixers. (SEO is my master.) While that may be true, my experience with Q Mixers is a bit more nuanced.
How does it Taste?
Let me be clear that I am already a supporter of the brand. I keep the Sparkling Grapefruit on hand to make refreshing Palomas during summer and Spectacular Tonic on hand for cocktails at all times because of its balanced, not bitter or cloying flavor and just right carbonation. I sampled the Hibiscus Ginger Beer, Elderflower Tonic Water and Kola with varying results. Here’s what I discovered.
Elderflower Tonic Water
Softer and more floral than the Spectacular Tonic. Aromatics waft up from the glass. Refreshing on its own with minimal quinine bite. In a Hendrick’s gin and tonic, I found it too floral. Maybe another London Dry style gin with fewer aromatics – Tanqueray with its zippy citrus notes? – would allow the elderflower to shine.
Like ginger beer but with the spicy notes of ginger tempered by a slight bitterness? If “yes,” this is your ginger beer. Added bonus: it is a lovely shade of red in the glass.
I got my kids involved in this taste test and we agreed to a taste-off against one of the market leaders in the cola space, Coke. My husband loves a Cuba Libre and we keep Coke in the house. It is the benchmark cola for our family and it is the benchmark addition with rum for this simple cocktail.
Q Kola: Aromatic. Herbal, notes of sandalwood and zest – lime zest?
Coke: Lemon, sugar, caramel notes, sweetness
Impressions after sampling:
Q Kola: Aromatic. Nose of licorice and cola with anise on the finish. Bitter on the front palate, transitions to sweetness without being cloying on the finish.
Coke: Lemon, sugar, caramel notes, sweetness.
From start to finish, Coke was flat on the palate. And after tasting Q Mixers’ Kola and trying the Coke again, it was readily apparent that the Kola is alive with spicy flavor. The company uses fresh kola nuts, clove and vanilla as well as agave syrup, not corn syrup, in its mixers. The caramel from the Coke did not benefit from the cloying sweetness of the brand’s sweetener of choice, corn syrup. Flat sweetness? No thanks. I’ll take the Kola that excites my palate.
To demonstrate the new rank of Q Mixers Kola in our house, we began drinking it out of schnapps glasses. The class act Kola deserves to be drunk from fine stemware. The other product? Not so much.
Are these the world’s best carbonated mixers? I’m not saying yes for the entire line as there are too many nuances in the flavor extensions that will appeal to a range of palates. They don’t all work for my palate or my family’s needs. The Kola, however, has been promoted and is now in regular rotation at my house – goodbye, Coke!