homemade tonic


I like to make things. When I like something, I then want to know how to make it. Simple, right? I also really like studying the history of beverages. They are a nice and concise way at looking at the complicated and often convoluted development of culture. One of my favorites is root beer and its many resulting forms. I’ll save that for another time.
Right now, I’ll talk about gin and tonic. The first post I’ll look at the tonic. First, a bit of history.

Tonic water is called that because it was originally used as a medicine to treat malaria.  The active ingredient is quinine. It comes from Jesuit’s Bark. This is also known as Peruvian Bark and Cinchona Bark because, according to legend, the first person to be treated and cured by it was the Countess of Chinchón of Peru. Of course, this is probably a rather ethnocentric claim as it was introduced to her doctor by the native inhabitants. Moving on.

Originally, tonic water was much more concentrated than what it sold commercially now. Quinine is a very bitter ingredient and in order to “get the medicine down” the British mixed the tonic with gin. Since then, tonic water has changed quite a bit. There are often more ingredients than simply quinine.

I wanted a basic but flavorful recipe. The simplest way to try out ingredient proportions is to make a syrup which can be mixed with soda water for dilution and carbonation.  Below, is the plate of ingredients prior to boiling. The bark, allspice, lemongrass, zest and juice of lemon, lime and orange were boiled first then the citric acid was added.

When finished and cooled, I stored the syrup in a great Singha soda water bottle. Nice brand, by the way, good bubbles.

Here is the recipe I used. It’s from Jeffrey Morgenthaler, a blogger and bartender with some great idea. Like barrel-aged cocktails.

It is much more flavorful than your typical tonic water. Which is something I was pleased with. It’s like tasting history!



Next up, my first attempt at a recipe for homemade gin (minus the second distillation).


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