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Making Tonic Water and Tonic/Quinine Syrup


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#1 scott123

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 10:19 PM

Wouldn't it be grand to be able to control the sweetness in one's tonic by mixing the ingredients (CO2 water, sweetener, quinine) onself?

Has anyone ever tried this?
Sources for quinine?

#2 cdh

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 10:41 PM

Have had the thought, and looked around for quinine, but had no luck sourcing any. Would love to know if there is a commercial source of the building blocks of tonic.
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#3 scott123

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 02:07 AM

After putting in a few hours of research, this is what I've learned:

The quinine in tonic water is either quinine sulfate or quinine hydrochloride. Up until a few years ago, quinine sulfate was available in over the counter leg cramp remedies. Due to a handful of overdose fatalities, it is now only available by prescription.

Quinine is extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree. Cinchona bark can be obtained either as an extract or in powdered form.

Here is one source for bulk (1 lb.) powdered cinchona bark:

http://www.rain-tree.com/quinine.htm

Cinchona bark is also available in small amounts as a homeopathic remedy:

http://www.smartbomb.com/boir115.html

I am not absolutely sure about this, but my research leads me to believe that cinchona bark extract is just a slightly less processed version of the quinine flavoring used in tonic. Measuring it might get a little tricky due to the lack of standardization. None the less, this may be what we're looking for.

#4 cdh

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Posted 22 May 2004 - 12:53 PM

Hey Scott--

Made any progress on the tonic compounding mission? I've not felt like springing for a pound of potentially stale or over the hill ground bark yet, though the crazy notion of making my own tonic may someday make me track down some quinine.

My thoughts on how to do it would be to make a simple syrup with some lemon and lime zests boiled in along with the sugar, and then throw in some quinine. Research has indicated that the FDA has deemed 82mg/L of quinine to be a safe dosage, so getting the proportion of quinine to syrup to water will be the tricky bit...

But take heart... it appears that Thomas Keller's bar at Per Se is (or plans on) making their own tonic using "quinine powder" and other assorted stuff... so others are thinking the same way we are.
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#5 hacheson

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 04:35 PM

I figure this is a bit basic but does anyone have a good tonic recipe? From a base I just want to branch out and do some playing around.

#6 Sunny Simmons Steincamp

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 07:06 PM

I figure this is a bit basic but does anyone have a good tonic recipe?  From a base I just want to branch out and do some playing around.

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I found <a href="http://forums.egulle...5&t=74934">this thread</a> from last year, on eG. Scroll down a bit and there is a link to an article about a bar that makes their own, and a bit more discussion about the idea.

I've wondered about this myself, because I like tonic water, but it's always too sweet (and the diet type is disgusting.) I'd love to hear how it comes out, if you try it!

#7 hacheson

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 05:10 AM

Yup. It's that sweetness that I want to cut down... it just tastes so artificial to me. Thanks for the find.

#8 edsel

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 09:15 AM

*bump*

So, johnder's foodblog post about Gramercy Tavern's house-made tonic got me thinking (again) about trying to make some myself. I bought some of the cinchona powder from rain-tree back in June, hoping to make some tonic for the Heartland gathering.

My first attempts were pretty nasty tasting, and the color was not too attractive either. I'm going to try again, this time increasing the citrus component in relation to the cinchona. I'm also wondering if there are other bitter components used in the commercial tonic waters.

#9 johnder

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 09:26 AM

I am hoping between thw group of us we can come up with some usable recipe. :biggrin:
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#10 eje

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 03:16 PM

Is Jim at Gramercy using the cinchona bark or chemical quinine?

I used some powdered bark in a bitters recipe, and it was a pain to filter out, as it is often so finely ground.

Can't you get pharma grade quinine sulfate from chemistry supply places?

I know the lab I used to work for uses it experimentally. I don't think it's a controlled substance, is it?*

edit - *Did some googling, apparently, Quinine is a controlled substance, (or more accurately "drug paraphanelia",) because it is so often used as a "diluents and adulterants" to other drugs.

Edited by eje, 02 October 2006 - 03:50 PM.

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#11 cdh

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 04:04 PM

I'm interested in figuring out how the quinine in tonic ends up there. Is an infusion of the cinchona bark enough, or must it be a tincture, a distillation or some other sort of extra processing?
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#12 johnder

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 04:08 PM

Is Jim at Gramercy using the cinchona bark or chemical quinine?

I used some powdered bark in a bitters recipe, and it was a pain to filter out, as it is often so finely ground.

Can't you get pharma grade quinine sulfate from chemistry supply places? 

I know the lab I used to work for uses it experimentally.  I don't think it's a controlled substance, is it?*

edit - *Did some googling, apparently, Quinine is a controlled substance, (or more accurately "drug paraphanelia",) because it is so often used as a "diluents and adulterants" to other drugs.

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Jim does use cinchona bark. Sounds like you need a buchner filter. :biggrin:
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#13 edsel

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 04:52 PM

I started obsessing over home-made tonic back when I spotted this in a discussion of Per Se - The Cocktail

Interesting to note that they will soon be making their own tonic from quinine powder...


I searched for recipes and came up blank. :angry: More than a year later there was a Washington Post piece linked from the made my own vanilla lemon soda thread, which I found when searching again for info on tonic recipes. WaPo story on Restaurant Eve.

The bartender at Eve said that Yuzu turned out to be the key to getting the right citrus notes in their house-made tonic. I've never seen fresh yuzu in the U.S., and all of the asian groceries here in "the Heartland" seem to have only yuzu-flavored marinades and such. I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and order some bottled yuzu over the web if I want to play with it. In the mean time, I'll probably stick with (regular old) lemon and lime, and maybe some Boyajian Pure Citrus Oils which I already have on hand.

I've got a Buchner vacuum filter rig on order, so at least I'll be able to get the sludge out of the infusion! :raz:

#14 edsel

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 05:41 PM

Resuming the experiment

I started infusing some cinchona bark in hot water tonight. I'm trying to be a bit more methodical this time. Rather than measuring the cinchona by volume, I weighed it on the gram scale.

Posted Image
The cinchona powder.
Note the medium-brown color.

Posted Image
Five grams for 450 mL of hot water.

Posted Image
The infusion is much darker than the dry powder.

#15 johnder

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 07:33 AM

I actually just got a back of the Quinine (cinchona) powder from Raintree too. I am trying a few experiments over the weekend as well. I will report back.

I have been scouring the library for recipes and came up with some interesting things to try.

John
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#16 johnder

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 11:55 AM

Here are the results of this mornings experiments.

25 mg Cincona bark dissolved in 50mg of grain alcohol, let sit overnight.

Add 50mg of hot water to bark mixture.


To a pot add:
3 limes, cut in half
1/2 lemon
8 slices of dried orange peel
2 cups of cane sugar
4 cups of water
10 juniper berries
5 cardomom pods

Bring to boil, turn off heat, add cincona mixture

I let this cool in the pot for about an hour, did a strain, then a filter through coffee paper then a strain through the buchner filter.

I then split this base up into 1/2 cup portions for flavor adjusting.

After quite a few batches, I found something that was pretty good, which is where I pretty much stopped for the day.

To 1/2 cup qunine syrup add:

4 tbs 2-1 lime simple syrup
2 tbs 2-1 cane simple syrup
1/2 cup water

---

I tasted all the syrups by taking 1 tsp of the syrup and adding 3.5 oz of club soda. I then did an additional test by adding 1/2 tsp of plymouth to the glass and tasting again.

I am pretty happy with the results so far. I am out of citric acid, so tomorrow test will be taking all the syrups I made today (I have 6 different batches) and adding some citric acid to them to see what happens.


John
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#17 cdh

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 07:05 AM

So, how did the subsequent experiments go? I'm fascinated by the possibility of generating my own tonic.

How does it present itself? Brownish or not? Cloudy or not?
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#18 edsel

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 07:35 AM

I'm sure John has made more progress than I. My filter arrived a week ago Friday. The filtered quinine "tea" is still very dark but no longer cloudy. A drop on the tongue is extremely bitter, sort of like the taste of tonic without the citrus notes.

I didn't use any other aromatics at this point, because I want to establish a baseline of what the quinine itself tastes like. I mixed a small amount of the quinine with some lime juice (also filtered), simple sirup, and water in the siphon.

Charged it with a CO2 cartridge, and that's where I hit the first snag. The CO2-charged stuff just tastes funny, but it's a characteristic taste of the CO2. Has anyone found a way to use a soda siphon without the weird-tasting cartridges? Can you just add sodium bicarbonate to the siphon before sealing it (and skip the cartridge)?

I picked up some plain soda so the experiment can continue without the siphon issue.

#19 cdh

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 08:50 AM

I know what you mean about the funny soda syphon flavor... almost metallic. It put me off of using my soda syphon a while back. My homebrewing hobby has provided me with other CO2 toys that make homemade seltzer possible without the funky metal flavor, but in larger quantities. I imagine that it would be possible to use a 5 gallon keg to make a quart or two of experimental carbonated stuff... just have to free up a keg to use for such experiments.

Kegs themselves can be quite inexpensive... www.homebrewing.org has them quite cheap... it is the $100+ or so that a CO2 tank and regulator and gas lines will cost you that puts this system out of casual hobbyist budgets. It would be possible (but not necessarily safe) to do the math on how much co2 you want to use, and add it by means of carefully measured hunks of dry ice. That would cut the tank and regulator out of the picture... and the kegs are rated for up to 130 PSI... so chances of blowing one up with an exuberant amount of dry ice are somewhat mitigated. Just check your math and your scale's accuracy before trying it. Standard syphon charges are what? 8g or so... so you'd probably want to aim for that weight of dry ice per quart... so you'd need a precise gram scale, rather than one that reads in grams but doesn't accurately weigh down to the gram... and you'd have to take account of the volume of open space above your liquid at the bottom of the keg as well... lots of gas math would be required.

Edited by cdh, 15 October 2006 - 08:57 AM.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#20 edsel

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 10:12 AM

Thanks for the CO2 info, Chris. I think I'll stick to using bottled soda water for the time being, but maybe there's a keg and a CO2 rig in my future. :wink:

I tried out the cinchona-lime-sugar mix with bottled soda today. Now that the weird CO2 cartridge flavor is gone, it tastes pretty good.

The biggest advantage over bottled tonic is that I can adjust the sweetness way down - the commercial stuff is always too sweet for my taste. The citrus is fresh, which is always a good thing. And the cinchona flavor is bitter and medicinal (as it's supposed to be).

The color is only slightly off-white. The cinchona infusion is quite dark, but it gets diluted way down in the drink. I used a couple of teaspoons of cinchona "tea" in a six-ounce glass. Since I started out with 50 g. of cinchona bark powder in 450 mL of water, the drink winds up with a tiny fraction of the "recommended" dosage from the Raintree site. I'm playing it safe on the cinchona quantity for now.

#21 slkinsey

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 07:15 AM

Re funny taste from soda siphons: I think part of this is due to the construction. Most soda siphons these days are made of cheap metal. Eventually everything that comes out has a thread of "old canteen" flavor (slightly metalic, slightly musty) running through it, and I have not been able to figure out any way to eliminate this problem. Glass siphons don't seem to have this problem.
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#22 JSilbert

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 09:22 AM

I had this exact issue 2 years back and after a ton of experimenting in my kitchen and then contracting with a food scientist, I'm in now the process of starting a company making what I'm calling "premium" tonic water.

I'm calling it Q Tonic because of the real Quinine. And it's made with quinine from Peru (an extract sold by Zooscape - after a bunch of agonizing I finally accepted that they make it much better than I could) and organic Agave as the sweetener. As a result, it's significantly less sweet/more sharp than regular tonic water, has 80% percent fewer calories, and has a 85% lower Glycemic rating, and it's all natural. I describe it as having a "quick sharpness and a gently rounded sweetness" and I think it mixes great with good gins.

I just finished my glass bottles this week and next week I'm getting a trial batch made at a contract packer. If anyone would like to taste it, please let me know. I'd be happy to send you a couple of bottles and I'd love to hear what you guys think. My email is: Jordan@qtonicwater.com (jordan@qtonicwater.com), just drop me an email.

-Jordan

#23 Lynnette

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 12:20 PM

I just love it when EGullet responds to my google searches with a forum discussion :wub: !! We usually drink wine but one of our alcoholic drinks of choice is gin & tonic. After cleaning up our diet in favor of Real Food, I was dismayed to discover that all brands of tonic I could find contained high fructose corn syrup. And after cutting back on sweets, these tonics are also now too sweet for us.

Thus, it seems that I will eventually have to make my own or go to special lengths to find and procure tonic that meets my standards.

So... Please keep posting the results of your experiments! Every one helps!

And Jordan, bless you for all your efforts. Good Luck with your business!

Thanks,
Lynnette

#24 edsel

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 01:45 PM

I've been busy lately, but did continue the experiments a bit further. I'm still working on the "baseline" recipe, which is kind of boring but will hopefully give me a reference point for further experimentation.

I got some bottled yuzu juice to try out. It's interesting, but tastes a bit salty. Wish I could find some fresh yuzu.

I'm still working mainly with fresh lemon and/or lime juice for the citrus component, and simple syrup for the sweetener (I did try some agave nekcar and may play some more with that).

John, how much citric acid did you use? I have some citric acid powder but have no clue how much to start out with.

#25 eje

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 01:50 PM

[...]
I got some bottled yuzu juice to try out. It's interesting, but tastes a bit salty. Wish I could find some fresh yuzu.
[...]

View Post

Yeah, you have to be careful of the bottled Yuzu. Much of it is salted. Intended, I guess, solely for savory cooking (ponzu, etc.). I made the same mistake. I've hear there are some brands which are not salted.
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#26 mbrowley

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 12:43 PM

Have had the thought, and looked around for quinine, but had no luck sourcing any.  Would love to know if there is a commercial source of the building blocks of tonic.

View Post


I know I'm coming to this thread a little late in the game, but I was in Tijuana last weekend at the Mercado Hidalgo (a big municpal market). Among all the great produce, sweets, and more than a few tacos de cabeza, several of the herb stores sold small (<1") cinchona blocks in their tea sections. Of course, I thought immediately of making bitters, but then I've got almost a dozen bottles at home, so there really wasn't much excuse I could have for bringing it home.

Fortunately, I'm about 20 minutes from TJ, so I can go nearly any time. I may just have to rethink that whole not-bringing-any-home thing. For those of you who don't live so close to the border, I'd check out local Mexican herb stores or health food stores where it might be in with herbs for tisanes, concoctions, infusions, etc.

By the way, John, I'm liking the idea of a quinine syrup. I may just have to snag a bag of chinocha when I head back south, regardless of raised eyebrows back at the house...

Matthew
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#27 johnder

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 01:33 PM

Hey guys, sorry I haven't posted an update recently. I will do so tonight when I get home.

For the citric, for about 4-5 cups of syrup I have been adding about 2 tablespoons of Citric Acid.
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#28 johnder

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 12:05 PM

So here is the recipe I have used so far.

25mg Cincona bark dissolved in 50mg of neutral spirits
Let sit overnight.

--

Add to 4 cups 1:1 simple syrup and 2 cups hot water, let sit overnight.
Strain

--

Remove 2 cups of strained syrup, add

2 Tbs Lime Simple syrup
2 Tbs Lime Juice
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Citric Acid
4 crushed juniper berries

--

Let sit 5 days, remove juniper


On another note, I tasted some of Jordan's Q Tonic last night. Wow. I can't wait for this to show up in stores. It is really good. Lightly carbonated, great quinine taste, with a haunting agave taste after the fact. I think he got the sweetness to quinine dead on, I am just wondering what it will taste like with a little more carbonation.

I did a tasting of it plain, and with Plymouth and compared to Schwepps it was amazing. You really don't realize how much sugar is in commercial tonic water until you either read the label, or compare it to something like Q.
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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#29 cdh

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 07:30 AM

I recently got the chance to sample jordan's Q tonic, and wanted to comment...

It is very clean in its flavor profile, and restrained in its intensity. It is well carbonated and comes across as very well balanced when mixed with gin. I find that I prefer a bit more citrus than is in there, but that is what limes are for. Most notable is the absence of any of the common objectionable flavors that turn up in tonic-- no metallic, no oversweet, no artificiality. This is not a recipe that shouts.

If this is the result of tonic homebrewing experiments, then we all should take jordan's example seriously, as he's walked the path and gotten someplace interesting.

Edited by cdh, 29 November 2006 - 07:33 AM.

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#30 WHT

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 11:38 AM

After putting in a few hours of research, this is what I've learned:

The quinine in tonic water is either quinine sulfate or quinine hydrochloride.  Up until a few years ago, quinine sulfate was available in over the counter leg cramp remedies.  Due to a handful of overdose fatalities, it is now only available by prescription.



I did a google search and found several places to buy online. it comes in several forms including powder, tablets and capsuls.
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