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Homemade Tonic Water

m
mdzehnder Oct 7, 2009 03:24 PM

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.

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  1. c oliver RE: mdzehnder Oct 7, 2009 03:39 PM

    Okay, I'm replying here in hopes that Alan Barnes is watching me:) I KNOW he makes his own tonic. Haven't tasted it yet but if he does it like everything else, it's a winner. Yoohoo, alan.

    1. alanbarnes RE: mdzehnder Oct 7, 2009 04:37 PM

      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/to...

      Last year Jeffrey Morgenthaler tweaked the recipe and posted this on his blog: http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/20...

      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...

      1 Reply
      1. re: alanbarnes
        c
        craigasaurus RE: alanbarnes Oct 8, 2009 01:41 PM

        A friend and I each (separately) made the Morganthaller recipe and thought there was too much citric acid in the mix! If I make this again I'm going to dial that way back.

      2. m
        mdzehnder RE: mdzehnder Oct 8, 2009 07:33 PM

        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?

        4 Replies
        1. re: mdzehnder
          alanbarnes RE: mdzehnder Oct 8, 2009 07:44 PM

          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...

          1. re: alanbarnes
            JMF RE: alanbarnes Oct 9, 2009 09:37 AM

            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.

            http://drinkingtheworld.com/2009/07/3...

            http://drinkingtheworld.com/2009/08/0...

            http://drinkingtheworld.com/2009/08/1...

            http://drinkingtheworld.com/2009/08/1...

            http://drinkingtheworld.com/2009/08/1...

            1. re: JMF
              alanbarnes RE: JMF Oct 9, 2009 10:19 AM

              Good point. I just assumed that a bitter flavor equals an alkaline beverage. But the citric acid does give it some sourness, too, which indicates acidity. Have you by any chance checked pH?

              1. re: alanbarnes
                Wahooty RE: alanbarnes Oct 9, 2009 01:17 PM

                Commercial tonic waters are generally around 3, if that helps at all. Of course, I'm sure they crank up the acidity to balance all of the extra sugar, but it's a start.

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