This tonic is an alternative to sickly-sweet standards such as Canada Dry and Schweppes. Don’t be alarmed: The syrup created here will be brown. Todd Thrasher suggests using sodium-free sparkling water.
For a gin and tonic, combine 5 ounces of tonic water with 1 1/2 ounces of gin in a highball glass filled with ice; garnish with a lime wedge.
Quinine powder, a bitter substance made from the bark of the cinchona tree, can be obtained from several online sources, including www.rain-tree.com and www.herbspro.com.
Citric acid, a powder commonly used for canning, can be ordered online from www.herbalremedies.com or www.barryfarm.com.
La Cuisine in Alexandria says it can special-order both ingredients; call 703-836-4435.
Makes 25 ounces tonic water and additional tonic syrup
- 3 cups water
- 3 stalks lemon grass, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon quinine powder
- 1 teaspoon citric acid
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 20 ounces sparkling water, chilled
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the lemon grass, sugar, quinine powder, citric acid and lime juice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the mixture is syrupy and has reduced by half. Strain the syrup twice — first through a fine-mesh strainer and then through a coffee filter (it will strain very slowly through the filter) — and refrigerate, covered, for at least two hours. Measure out 5 ounces of the cold syrup and add to the sparkling water. (Reserve the remainder of the syrup for a second batch, if desired.) Transfer to a soda siphon and dispense with a CO2 charger. If you do not have a siphon and charger, do not combine the syrup and water until immediately before use.