Homemade Tonic Water
I've noticed several good bars in my area are starting to make their own tonic waters, understandable since most of what's commercially available is oversweetened crap. I would like to try this at home--suggestions? Recipes? Where to find ingredients? Thanks.
It's really pretty straightforward. The only hard part is finding the ingredients. You'll probably have to mail-order cinchona bark; I got mine (chopped, not ground - makes filtering easier) from www.pennherb.com. Citric acid can also be a bit tricky to find; after a few false starts I found it at the local homebrew store. Since then I noticed it at Whole Foods (for more money, of course).
Kevin Ludwig is kind of the godfather of the whole homemade tonic thing. Here's his recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tonic-syrup-cocktails-2007
Last year Jeffrey Morgenthaler tweaked the recipe and posted this on his blog: http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/2008/how-to-make-your-own-tonic-water/
And there was some discussion here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637961
I tried the Morgenthaler recipe and like it pretty well. In subsequent batches I've upped the lemongrass a little, experimented with different spices (I like it with a hint of cinnamon and coriander), and used a couple of crushed limes instead of the zest and juice of a lemon, a lime, and an orange.
Hmmm, 5 minutes 'til 5 - I see a G&T in my immediate future...
Thanks so much for the information, Alan--exactly what I was looking for. My next question would be--what does everyone think about the possibility of combining the Morgenthaler tonic syrup recipe with the sort of home fermentation technique discussed in the Chow articles about making your own root beer and ginger beer? Would it be possible to home ferment your own brewed-style tonic water, similar to something like Fentimans?
Fermenting your own might work. But my guess from the bitterness level is that the stuff is pretty alkaline. That might keep the yeast from doing its thing. It may be worth a try, anyway, if you're patient. I'm not. Even when I brewed my own beer I force-carbonated it. Immediate gratification and all...
Actually most of the tonic syrup recipes are acidic. Jeffrey Morgenthaler's and my recipes both use citric acid. (Mine are loosely based on Jeff's recipes originally.)
Here's links to some of my recipes.