Does tonic water go bad? 

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does tonic water go bad?” methods to store tonic water and detect spoilt tonic water.

Does tonic water go bad?

Yes, tonic water can go bad. If tonic water is not sealed properly and left opened it can go bad quickly and develop an off-flavor or odor.

What exactly is tonic water?

Tonic water is a soft drink that contains quinine. Quinine is used to treat malaria and fever. The quinine content in tonic water nowadays is much lower. Tonic water has a bitter flavor. It is often added to the tonic, gin, or vodka.

How to detect spoilt tonic water?

Tonic water does not easily go bad unless it is kept open for a long time or some contaminants get into it. 

  • If the tonic water is old, pour it into a glass and smell it. If tonic water has been spoilt, a yellowish discoloration would be observed.
  • If the water smells and looks fine, the last step would be to taste it. If it tastes off, throw it away. If the taste is watery or flat, the tonic water is likely to be aged. It will lose its bubbliness. You can still use it but the flavor won’t be as good.
  • If the tonic water has been left unopened for a long time, it is better to throw it away as it has been exposed to air for a long while and is likely to be spoilt.
  • Also, check the shape of the container in which the tonic water has been stored. If the container bulges, develops rust or is not in good shape, it could be an indicator of tonic water being spoilt. Leakage from the bottle can also lower the quality of tonic water.

It is also important to avoid drinking directly out of the tonic water bottle. This is because you are introducing bacteria from your mouth into the container which can accelerate the risk of spoilage. 

What is the shelf-life of tonic water?

Tonic water usually has a best-by date mentioned as a label. The best-by date would be an indicator of how long the tonic water would last in the best quality.

Unopened tonic water would remain in the best condition for a few months as well though it is important to close it well. Unopened tonic water would last at room temperature probably for 1-2 days. In the fridge, it will last for few days.

Tonic waterRefrigeratorPantry
Tonic water (opened)Approximately 4-5 daysApproximately 2 days
Tonic water (unopened)Approximately stays in the best quality for more than a yearApproximately stays in the best quality for more than a year

How to store tonic water?

  • Store the tonic water in the pantry or fridge to retain its quality.
  • Store it away from heat and sunlight in a cool and dry place. Humidity or heat can reduce the flavor and fizziness of the tonic water.
  • Keep the bottle containing tonic water, sealed after use. If you seal it properly, the carbonation would last longer too.

Is it fine to freeze tonic water?

No, it is not recommended to freeze tonic water. Freezing tonic water can reduce its flavor and quality. Thawing tonic water can further reduce its fizziness and make it flat. It is better to store tonic water in the fridge or pantry.

How to keep tonic water bubbly?

Tonic water has to be sealed tightly. Once you open the bottle, make sure to close it tightly to prevent the carbon dioxide from escaping.

Avoid pouring tonic water too quickly in the drinks. Tilt your glass and pour the tonic water to avoid it from directly hitting the base of the glass. Slowly position your glass upright when you have finished pouring it.

Adding ice to your drinks can also trap the carbon dioxide present in tonic water and prevent it from escaping quickly. Avoid stirring your drink excessively as well.

Equipment like bar spoons can also be used to prevent tonic water from losing its bubbliness. The fizziness of the tonic water is also determined by the brand of the tonic water, acid, and sugar content in it. 

Artificial sweeteners will contribute to more fizziness which would last for a shorter time.

Is it fine to drink tonic water every day?

If you are sensitive to quinine, it is better to avoid consuming it every day. Individuals with blood disorders might also be sensitive to drinking tonic water. Tonic water also contains ample amounts of sugar which is a source of calories. 

It is also better to avoid drinking tonic water during pregnancy as quinine is speculated to cause labor contractions. This would though depend on the amount of quinine added to tonic water.


In this brief guide, we have answered the question “Does tonic water go bad?” methods to store tonic water and detect spoilt tonic water.