Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Q Drinks

We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series.

Like many big ideas, the notion for Q Drinks started with a party conversation. One warm summer night in Brooklyn, Jordan Silbert paused to read the ingredients on a bottle of tonic water and discovered high fructose corn syrup on the list.

“There we were, mixing fantastic gin with something that is no better than ordinary soda,” Jordan says. “In a flash, I realized I could make a superior tonic water.”

Jordan quickly learned the history of tonic water, which was once manufactured with real sugar and natural quinine from cinchona bark, a tree native to Peru. The soda industry made a shift in the 1950s and ’60s to replace these ingredients with synthetic quinine and high fructose corn syrup to cut costs.

That didn’t stop Jordan, who ordered his own cinchona bark and carried it around to dinner parties as he experimented and painstakingly perfected his homemade tonic water.

Friends were impressed, and before long a company was born. Jordan quit his job at a New York City nonprofit to pursue Q Drinks full time and was joined in business by his best friend, Ben Karlin.

Other superior sodas soon followed, including Q Kola with real kola nut from Africa, Q Ginger with real ginger root, cardamom, coriander, orange peel and rose oil, and Q Club with Himalayan salt. The only sweetener in Q Drinks is organic agave nectar. The sodas are also bottled in thick glass, which enables them to add more than the usual amount of carbonation for extra zip.

“Maybe it was the gin, but from the very first moment I knew we were onto something,” Jordan says. “We source the best ingredients, regardless of cost or complexity, and use less sweetener so the real, bold flavor shines through.”

Have you tried Q Drinks? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?