Want to up your entertaining game? Start with some homemade tonic water and you’ll be sure to make an impression. The ingredients are a bit hard to find, but they’re definitely worth the effort. Building a simple but substantial home bar is a big job, but it’s rewarding to have plenty of different choices that can suit a variety of guests. We talk about home bar essentials here, but today we’ll be focusing on the simple tonic water. As a mixer, tonic water adds some effervescent, flavors, and a crisp bitterness to a drink. It’s versatile, but is most known as the second half of a Gin and Tonic. The problem is, most commercial tonic water comes off as too sweet and syrupy, and the small batch stuff can be more expensive than the spirits you’re mixing it with. That’s why up until a few weeks ago, the Gin Fizz (substitute tonic water for club soda) has been the choice for me. That all changed when I thought about what it would take to make my own tonic water, so I looked it up. Most of the recipes online have a bevy of unique flavorings, and they all sound delicious, but they all have the same base ingredients so I’ve decided to keep it simple and make a simple base that you can build on to suit your own taste. My finished tonic is tart, spicy, and has a complex layering your friends are sure to remember.
Ingredients: Makes 1/2 Gallon (8 cups)
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup citric acid get it here
- 1/2 tsp. allspice powder
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 lime, 1 lemon, 1 orange, zest and juice
- 1/2 cup cinchona bark get it here
- 3 stalks lemongrass, chopped
- 10 cardamom pods, cracked get it here
- 1 tbsp. lavender
- 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, cracked
Put the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and add citric acid, allspice powder and salt, stirring well to dissolve. Press the cardamom pods and peppercorns under a flat blade to crack before adding to the water. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat again and simmer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let cool. Then transfer the mix through a filter cloth to remove the solids. I filtered it into a large mason jar then transferred to flip-top bottles for easy use. I refrigerate the mixture to keep it fresh and it should be good for up to a few months, though I doubt it will stick around long enough to go bad.
Here’s my recipe for a killer Gin and Tonic with this homemade brew:
Fill a glass with ice, and add 1 oz tonic water, 2 oz gin, 2 Oz club soda or sparkling water add a quick squeeze of lime juice, stir well and garnish with a lime wedge.
Note: The bulk of the ingredients are easy to find, with just a few needing to be hunted down. Follow the links next to the ingredients to find them on amazon.