JANUARY 3, 2012 11:30PM

A Tonic for all Your Ills

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Tonight, my newfangled birthday present led me to an old fashioned recipe: homemade tonic water.  Okay, so the recipe isn't totally old fashioned, but the making of tonic water with quinine has been around for a long time. Did you know quinine (cinchona) originated in Peru and it's bark not only fights malaria but has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties as well.  It used to be prescribed in the US for nocturnal leg cramps and Lupus.  Careful, though, kiddies.  Overdoing it is known to cause cardiac arrhythmia and other nasty side effects.

A tonic of quinine bark is bitter.  To drink it daily requires some tangy citrus, sweetener, and - if you were a British officer in Africa - gin!  So the gin and tonic was born.  I imagine they enjoyed taking their medicine each night (probably free of leg cramps)

Back to the newfangled birthday present: a Sodastream soda maker I received from Mom and Dad.  It makes sparkling water, but Bed Bath and Beyond sells a variety of syrups, including tonic syrup, to flavor the water.  Unfortunately, their tonic syrup contains sucralose; I call it super-gross- can't drink the stuff.  About a month ago, resolved to make my own tonic syrup, I searched the Internet for a recipe.

Quinine was the problem ingredient, which I eventually found at Zooscape (not that I would recommend the place).  It took three weeks to arrive.  Citric Acid was a little difficult, too, but I procured mine at the Chico Home Brew Shop.  Here's the recipe... 

Bring the following to a boil:

4 cups water
1/4 cup quinine bark powder
1/4 cup citric acid
1 cup chopped lemongrass
1 tsp whole allspice
zest and juice of a lemon, lime, and orange

Simmer covered for 20 minutes, then strain. I found if I pour slowly, most of the quinine bark stays at the bottom and I can just discard that opaque bit.  Other people used coffee filters (very slow) or a french press to strain.

Reheat with 1 cup of Agave Nectar or 1.5 cups of cane sugar until fully integrated.

Gin and Tonic Recipe:

1/2 shot tonic syrup
1 shot gin
Cover with sparkling water to taste

Zesting into the pot.

 The strained liquid.  Did I mention your tonic will be orange?

 Final product.  Yummy!

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