Clearly the hottest week of the year is a beverage week around my blog. From kombucha I have moved directly on to tonic water. Because we all need more than just kombucha.
Tonic water is bitter and sweet and great with gin (of course). But a decent tonic can stand on its own as well. (Really. It can.) But store bought tonic water? Blech. Have you read the ingredients list on a bottle ever? Yeah. It's enough to make you stay away from the stuff. Like forever. Corn syrup and preservatives… not the health tonic you might wish it were.
A couple of summers ago Pete and I got a taste for tonic so I asked out local food coop to carry a natural (corn syrup- and preservative-free) brand. He said he would order some but it would probably take weeks to come in. In true Rachel form I decided to have a go at making my own. I found a great recipe on-line, ordered the one random ingredient (a ground bark that smells a tiny bit like incense) and made a batch. Whoa. I finally understood why it was called a "tonic". So amazingly delicious in a whole ingredients sort of way – rather than that synthetic (anti)tonic that you buy at the grocery.
Take a look at what went into my cooking pot~
I have since modified the original recipe a bit to suit how we now eat. Here is my version.
Homemade Tonic Water Recipe
4 C water
1 orange, zest and juice
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 lime, zest and juice
1 chopped lemongrass stalk
1 tsp allspice berries
1/4 c cinchona bark (natural quinine I guess?)
two pinches celtic sea salt (or what ever salt you prefer)
juice of 1 lemon, reserved
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 C raw local honey (or sweetener of your choice)
- Simmer everything (except the reserved lemon juice and the honey) for 20 minutes covered.
- Remove from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer, a thin cloth, or your french press.
- Add honey and stir to dissolve.
- Add reserved lemon juice.
This is a concentrated tonic syrup. All you need is fizzy water (and perhaps gin) and you'll be set. I used homemade Sodastream Penguin fizzy water for a completely homemade tonic water but of course you can use any purchased carbonated water – whatever type you like best.
When all is said and done you'll have close to 5 cups of tonic concentrate. That is a lot. And since it has no preservatives in it you'd have to have a serious G&T habit to charge through the bottle before it went bad. Freeze in ice cube trays, then bag for use throughout the summer. And label those cubes, okay? Otherwise you might mistake them for beef broth or something and make a regrettable stew.
To use dilute 1 part tonic concentrate with 2 to 3 parts fizzy water. You can also add 1 part gin if that's your style. Your drink will be amber colored, unusual for "modern" tonic but really pretty natural when you think about it. So fill your cup, go outside, and take dorky pictures of yourselves.
Oh, and the straws. The straws!
You love them, don't you? So do we. These lovely bits of kitchen wonder are our glass drinking straws from Glass Dharma. Straw fun without straw waste. Rad. The kids love them so much Pete and I rarely manage to grab them for ourselves.
I can not say enough good things about these. Really and truly. They are guaranteed for life against breakage (and we've dropped them an embarrassing number of times) so if you do figure out how to break one they'll repair or replace it. That works in my world.
I suggest you buy a set for your whole family. That way you won't need to swipe them from your kids when you take your dorky pictures of yourselves with your tonic.
Stay cool you all.
edited: I just got an email from Glass Dharma that they'd like to host a glass straw giveaway on my blog. Are you interested? I hope to put it up in the next couple of days.