Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Q Drinks

By Carly Price, December 7, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Carly Price

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.

Q Drinks

“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.

Q Drinks

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.

Q Drinks

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.”

Q Drinks

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

Category: Supplier Stories




Tom Mackie says ...
Now if I could only find the stuff! Very frustrating
12/10/2012 2:50:00 PM CST
Dan says ...
Nice profile, I really like their line of drinks. The tonic always a crowd pleaser for those with a refined palate, and the ginger/kola products are really quite good. They are all equally nice as mixers or as stand-alone beverages. They have a website which lists the availability, I dont think its that hard to find
12/11/2012 6:47:22 PM CST
Bruce Millman says ...
Great product. We love Q-Tonic!
12/11/2012 8:21:32 PM CST
Chris Palermo says ...
Does Whole Foods carry them?
12/12/2012 2:59:53 PM CST
Penny Savage says ...
So good to know Whole Foods carries the Q Ginger Ale now. I have only been able to find the 4-packs at Williams and Sonoma stores.
12/12/2012 4:58:10 PM CST
Beverly Dubrin says ...
I too, like Jordan, was shocked when I discovered that tonic water generally has a great deal of sugar. I was trying to keep my sugar intake at a lower level and thought tonic water might be the way to go...with Q Tonic it is...and it's the best tasting tonic water that I know. A bit more expensive than the traditional popular brands, but well worth it.
12/12/2012 5:38:11 PM CST
Sue says ...
I love the Q products, and am always glad to find them at Whole Foods.
12/12/2012 8:18:58 PM CST
Susan Sherwood says ...
I'd like to know more about Q.
12/12/2012 9:25:50 PM CST
Jillian says ...
@tom- not hard to find in fact should be in your fav Whole Foods market! I conduct demos for the company and love spreading the word about such fabulous and tasty beverages!
12/13/2012 12:41:06 AM CST
Lu-Etta Smith, CFT says ...
This article on Q-Drinks was very helpful in explaining the quality of ingredients in tonic water (or the lack of thereof). Thank you to these two men who have decided to make a product with better and real ingredients in their tonic water and no high fructose corn syrup. I love that they are also using real spices in their Q-Drinks which we all need to have in our diets.
12/13/2012 5:51:57 AM CST
Lucy Colon says ...
My favorite way to enjoy Q drinks is the QTonic with Gin and lime - Gin and tonic.
12/13/2012 1:35:28 PM CST
Selena says ...
Im definitely one of your biggest fans, Jordan! I can think of nothing else to have with my gin than Q Tonic, so I hope you never stop production! any other tonic is "poison" so thank you for persevering in your efforts to develop something better and classic, and getting it out to us through Wholefoods, ABC Liquor stores and the bar scene - except I haven't found any bars in Virginia or DC that serve Q! I seem to only enjoy G+Ts in the comfort of my home! Which is great actually. I wanted to write to you as i had the opportunity to! I hope we can keep up with your efforts! well done
12/13/2012 2:38:52 PM CST
Vickie Kies says ...
Yes, I have had tried the Q Tonic and it is wonderful though more than I like to spend on a regular basis. Whole Foods carries it I understand. I bought it at Sur La Table.
12/13/2012 4:05:16 PM CST
alba says ...
I just tried a bottle this weekend and I must say I prefer the Whole Foods 365 brand tonic. I like the concept of Q but it didn't have much taste and the carbonation was too subtle, almost flat. The 365 brand has cane sugar and natural ingredients too.
12/15/2012 4:30:33 PM CST
Jennifer says ...
They are also available at all Binny's locations in the Chicagoland area. $7.99 for a 4-pack, I think.
12/15/2012 7:35:01 PM CST
Marsha Hurst says ...
I got hooked early on the Q Tonic and thought nothing could top it-- until I tasted Q Ginger. I am excited about the new products and yearn for a citrus drink.
12/15/2012 10:06:42 PM CST
judy rosemarin says ...
I think Q Ginger Ale is second to none! Great product, great line, great story, great guy! Congratulations.
12/16/2012 3:31:33 PM CST
Michael SILBERT says ...
Try it with cheap gin such as Gilbeys which is strong in juniper berry and has a natural bite. Chic yuppie gin is too smooth and has all the guts distilled out of it. It's the way gin used to taste. Just the way tonic used to taste which is what Q tonic is all about!!! Plus he's my nephew and a nephew should listen to is Uncle!
12/16/2012 10:42:03 PM CST
Jasmin Terrany says ...
I love this stuff...best ever...well done Jordan Silbert, keep them coming!
12/17/2012 2:07:37 PM CST
Tae says ...
This is kola the way it should be. A bit pricey but worth every penny. I luv it keep up the good work...
07/23/2013 1:04:23 PM CDT
Ghlee says ...
Can I find Q tonic and other Q drinks at the West Vancouver location? I heard about Q Tonic from friends in Portland OR who are VERY choosy about their gin and tonics. Bought some the last time I was in the States and just opened my last bottle.
09/25/2013 7:02:29 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@GHLEE - Our products differ between store locations. I would suggest reaching out to the exact store where you plan to shop to find out for sure! You can find a list of our stores in Canada at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list/canada.
09/26/2013 4:03:47 PM CDT
Brendan says ...
There is a better Premium Tonic called Fever-Tree. Do you carry this?
09/27/2013 11:29:10 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@BRENDAN - Our products vary between locations, check with your local store to find out if they carry this!
09/27/2013 1:25:52 PM CDT
Tina says ...
I am so happy to have discovered Q Drinks at a Whole Foods sample booth. Their products are absolutely superior, it's easy to see and taste the difference. Their ginger ale is the only one I buy now. Anyone that's interested or a fan should make sure to check out their website - they provide insightful history into carbonated beverages (sodas) and it's even furthermore apparent how much they actually care about quality. Thanks for carrying them Whole Foods! Y'all should organize more sample opportunities so people can find out what they're missing out on ;)
12/17/2013 10:26:30 AM CST