Ever since Sujinder Juneja, Leeann Froese, and I travelled together up to Penticton for WBC13 and started the #GTtime party, I have been playing with the idea of making my own tonic water.
For two years I dabbled and made some citrusy, floral, and spicy reductions that worked well, but, of course, there wasn't that bitter, beautiful, unique quinine element.
Fast forward to earlier this week and my first batch of real, gin-loving (me-loving) tonic! I am happy to share my tonic water (concentrate) recipe with you here—and now.
- 4 cups cold water
- ¼ cup chopped (not powdered) cinchona bark
- ¼ cup citric acid
- 3 limes, zest + juice
- 3 lemons, zest + juice
- 2 mandarin oranges, zest + juice
- 1 small pink grapefruit, zest + juice
- ¼ cup chopped dried lemongrass
- 10 whole allspice berries
- 6 whole cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender
- ¼ teaspoon pink Hawaiian sea salt
Mix sugar and water in pot. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool then refrigerate until ready to use.
Combine all tonic ingredients in a non-reactive pot large enough to accommodate. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool in pot (still uncovered). Once cool, transfer everything to a quart jar, cover, then refrigerate for at least eight hours—24 hours is better. Strain contents of jar twice through a fine sieve. Finish by straining once more, this time through cheese cloth.
In a large pitcher or pot, mix together the tonic concentrate and simple syrup—Hooray! Tonic syrup! Pour it into glass bottles or jars and store in the fridge.
When ready for a refreshing G+T, fill a highball glass with ice, add gin, one or two tablespoons of tonic syrup (personal taste rules here), top with soda water, and add a slice or two of lemon or lime. The tonic (see the jar in the photo below?) will have a lovely amber colour that becomes lighter as you add gin, ice, and soda water.
Some things worth note:
- Quinine can be toxic so it's important to regulate your cinchona bark;
- straining the tonic is critical;
- tasting the concentrate, before it is mixed witht he simple syrup, etc., is deceiving;
- I'd probably use less citric acid, more botanicals, and lighter simple syrup next time; and
- my local purveyor of natural things, The Pantry Natural Foods, went way-beyond-helpful by sourcing the cinchona bark for me.
Merry Chritmas and cheers to you!
Copyright © 2015 Kathleen Rake. All rights reserved.