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Making Tonic Water and Tonic/Quinine Syrup


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#31 slkinsey

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 12:50 PM

Nice article in today's NY Times about tonic water. Talks about Q Tonic, Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water and Stirrings tonic water. Also has a nice quote from one of my favorite bartenders:

Jim Meehan, a bartender at Gramercy Tavern and the Pegu Club in Manhattan, has been working for more than a year on a subtle variation of his own that is infused with lime and lemongrass. He believes there is room behind the bar for more than one tonic water.

"Maybe Q Tonic tastes best with a citrusy gin like Plymouth, and a more floral tonic, like the one I make, tastes better with dry gins like Tanqueray and Beefeater," Mr. Meehan said. He conceded that the concept of tonic specificity is "an advanced idea" that might take a while to catch on.


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#32 johnder

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 01:58 PM

Congrats Jordan!

Where can we find it?
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#33 jmfangio

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 04:43 PM

Jim Meehan, a bartender at Gramercy Tavern and the Pegu Club in Manhattan, has been working for more than a year on a subtle variation of his own that is infused with lime and lemongrass. He believes there is room behind the bar for more than one tonic water.


Interesting. I recently tried a bottle of the lemongrass Dry Soda, and my first thought was how well it would go with gin.

http://drysoda.com/
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#34 JSilbert

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 03:08 PM

Sorry for disappearing - it's been real hectic keeping up with the article’s aftermath. Q Tonic actually won’t be at your favorite watering hole until later in February. I’ll certainly let you all know when and where.

Congrats Jordan!

Where can we find it?

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#35 JohnnyH

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 01:04 PM

Sorry for disappearing - it's been real hectic keeping up with the article’s aftermath. Q Tonic actually won’t be at your favorite watering hole until later in February. I’ll certainly let you all know when and where.

Congrats Jordan!

Where can we find it?

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Jordan -- what about retail?
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#36 slkinsey

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 01:47 PM

http://qtonic.com/availability.html
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#37 edsel

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 02:34 PM

I tried some of the Q when Jordan was sampling it out. It's truly many notches above the typical commercial offerings. I'll be interested to see what the final product is like - I think the samples may have had a lower "fizz" level than is possible in a larger operation.

I'll try to convince some of the local markets and restaurants to start carrying it. Thanks for linking to the "availability" page, Sam.

#38 TBoner

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 07:21 PM

Jim Meehan, a bartender at Gramercy Tavern and the Pegu Club in Manhattan, has been working for more than a year on a subtle variation of his own that is infused with lime and lemongrass. He believes there is room behind the bar for more than one tonic water.


Interesting. I recently tried a bottle of the lemongrass Dry Soda, and my first thought was how well it would go with gin.

http://drysoda.com/

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It does. A really unbelievable combination. Recommended.
Tim

#39 jsmeeker

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 02:42 PM

I just found out about Q Tonic the other day while watching Robert Hess' latest podcast. Seems like it's available in Dallas area at Whole Foods. I'll have to pick up some. I really DO live a gin and tonic. And that's with standard HFCS tonic. Now that I am on a serious cocktail kick, I bet I'm going to REALLY love it. (their website also has some recipes for some other cocktails that use tonic)

Also, what about Stirrings? They have a premium tonic. I thin I've even seen it at my local liquor store.

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#40 bostonapothecary

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:05 PM

I just found out about Q Tonic the other day while watching Robert Hess' latest podcast.  Seems like it's available in Dallas area at Whole Foods.  I'll have to pick up some.  I really DO live a gin and tonic. And that's with standard HFCS tonic.  Now that I am on a serious cocktail kick, I bet I'm going to REALLY love it.  (their website also has some recipes for some other cocktails that use tonic)

Also, what about Stirrings?  They have a premium tonic. I thin I've even seen it at my local liquor store.

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what do people want in a tonic water??

i've been into making soda lately and i just bought a pound of powdered quinine...

less sugar... more bitter... acidity?

saffron...? yeastiness...? better carbonation...? has tonic water traditionally ever seen any other herbs? an undisclosed whisper of pear juice in the mix to freak people out...

homemade soda via bottle fermentation can be seriously artesian... (and i have years to go before getting good at it...)

personally i don't think i'd wan't less sugar. i'd just prefer built in, high quality acidity... and i like the old raj style tint of saffron... it reminds me of empire building and decadence... i think i also want the same yeastiness i find in west port rivers vintage RJR champagnes... it also needs to be served out of a frequently used and refilled, scratched up, champange bottles... like schweppes african version of bitter lemon...
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#41 jsmeeker

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 09:26 PM

I just found out about Q Tonic the other day while watching Robert Hess' latest podcast.   Seems like it's available in Dallas area at Whole Foods.  I'll have to pick up some.  I really DO live a gin and tonic. And that's with standard HFCS tonic.  Now that I am on a serious cocktail kick, I bet I'm going to REALLY love it.  (their website also has some recipes for some other cocktails that use tonic)

Also, what about Stirrings?  They have a premium tonic. I thin I've even seen it at my local liquor store.

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what do people want in a tonic water??

i've been into making soda lately and i just bought a pound of powdered quinine...

less sugar... more bitter... acidity?

saffron...? yeastiness...? better carbonation...? has tonic water traditionally ever seen any other herbs? an undisclosed whisper of pear juice in the mix to freak people out...

homemade soda via bottle fermentation can be seriously artesian... (and i have years to go before getting good at it...)


View Post


that's a good question. and one I really can't answer right now as I've never had anything other than stuff like Canada Dry and Schwepps at home and who knows what at bars and restaurants. I've never really given it any thought at all until seeing the Q tonic on Robert's podcast.

But I'd like to try some of these tonics, with various gins, even comparing them to stuff like Canada Dry to see how they differ and what may work out better.

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#42 Mike S.

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 10:26 PM

I look forward to trying Q Tonic when/if it gets out here to Cali. In the meantime, I must say that I've never had any mixer at all (tonic or otherwise) that I've liked as much as Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water. It's all I could ever ask for in a companion for gin -- or dry rum, or blanco tequila, or just a heavy squeeze of lime. Best by a mile.
Cheers,

Mike

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#43 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 04:42 AM

Just to let you know that there is a Splenda sweetened diet tonic available from Sodaclub.com
Wawa Sizzli FTW!

#44 jsmeeker

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:25 PM

I picked up some Q Tonic today. A 4 pack of 6.3 oz. bottles. Got it at a Whole Foods here in Dallas. It was $11.00 something. :unsure: yeah. $11 for 4 small bottles of tonic water.

Anyway.. This stuff is very different than the typical Canada Dry or whatever. It's FAR less sweet. Also, not as strongly fizzy. Not quite as strongly flavored as I was expecting.

I mixed it up with some Plymouth Gin. Added a wedge of lime. Makes for a nice G&T. But I am not so totally sure I like a basic G&T enough to keep buying this at this price. I'm going to play around with some of the other drinks they suggest on their website to see how it works out. I have three bottles left. One bottle made two drinks served in a double old fashioned glass.

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#45 eje

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:35 PM

Yowza!

We haven't seen the Q Tonic yet here in CA, but $11 for a 4 pack? At that price I'd definitely be working on my own version.

And I thought Fever Tree was a bit excessive at $6 for a 4 pack of small bottles...
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#46 TBoner

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 06:00 PM

I picked up some Q Tonic today. A 4 pack of 6.3 oz. bottles. Got it at a Whole Foods here in Dallas.  It was $11.00 something.    :unsure:    yeah.  $11 for 4 small bottles of tonic water.

Anyway..  This stuff is very different than the typical Canada Dry or whatever.  It's FAR less sweet.  Also, not as strongly fizzy.  Not quite as strongly flavored as I was expecting.

I mixed it up with some Plymouth Gin.  Added a wedge of lime.  Makes for a nice G&T. But I am not so totally sure I like a basic G&T enough to keep buying this at this price.  I'm going to play around with some of the other drinks they suggest on their website to see how it works out. I have three bottles left. One bottle made two drinks served in a double old fashioned glass.

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Which WF was this? I have checked the one on Lower Greenville and specifically sought out a couple of employees and a manager to ask about it. No dice. I'm near the one in Richardson regularly, but I'm willing to travel a bit to find some.
Tim

#47 jsmeeker

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:42 PM

I picked up some Q Tonic today. A 4 pack of 6.3 oz. bottles. Got it at a Whole Foods here in Dallas.  It was $11.00 something.    :unsure:    yeah.  $11 for 4 small bottles of tonic water.

Anyway..   This stuff is very different than the typical Canada Dry or whatever.  It's FAR less sweet.  Also, not as strongly fizzy.   Not quite as strongly flavored as I was expecting.

I mixed it up with some Plymouth Gin.  Added a wedge of lime.  Makes for a nice G&T. But I am not so totally sure I like a basic G&T enough to keep buying this at this price.  I'm going to play around with some of the other drinks they suggest on their website to see how it works out. I have three bottles left. One bottle made two drinks served in a double old fashioned glass.

View Post


Which WF was this? I have checked the one on Lower Greenville and specifically sought out a couple of employees and a manager to ask about it. No dice. I'm near the one in Richardson regularly, but I'm willing to travel a bit to find some.

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The new one on Preston at Forrest. They had a small amount in the aisle with the other soda and some cocktail mixes. Then, I spied a big stack of them at the end of an aisle (one aisle over)

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#48 Kent Wang

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:57 PM

I could've sworn it was $9.99 when I bought a 4-pack from the flagship Whole Foods a few months ago.

But, yeah, that's pricey. I can buy a 4-pack of Unibroue beer for that money. It's good, but $4-6 is more what I feel it is worth to me.

#49 bostonapothecary

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 08:22 AM

I could've sworn it was $9.99 when I bought a 4-pack from the flagship Whole Foods a few months ago.

But, yeah, that's pricey. I can buy a 4-pack of Unibroue beer for that money. It's good, but $4-6 is more what I feel it is worth to me.

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wow, i would never pay that... i'd go with the unibroue... making soda is virtually free. all it really costs you is time... there are lots of things to learn but someone just needs to document them in a modern format to save people alot of time and experimentation... i've been working on it for a while. i didn't want to waste my quinine until i nailed the process in my hibiscus soda...
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#50 TBoner

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 05:46 PM

Jeff, thanks for the info. I'll be picking some up tomorrow. I won't be buying it more than once unless it's the greatest beverage I've ever tasted.
Tim

#51 Chris Hennes

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 09:51 PM

I look forward to trying Q Tonic when/if it gets out here to Cali.  In the meantime, I must say that I've never had any mixer at all (tonic or otherwise) that I've liked as much as Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water.  It's all I could ever ask for in a companion for gin -- or dry rum, or blanco tequila, or just a heavy squeeze of lime.  Best by a mile.

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Well, it figures that just as I'm getting ready to leave town, the local Wegman's starts carrying the Fever Tree tonic water. It's only $5/4 bottles here (only!), and is definitely a far cry better than my usual Canada Dry, though whether it's four times better is debatable. Nevertheless, I have to agree with the sentiment that it is wonderful stuff: the subtle orange flavor is intriguing in a simple gin and tonic (I'm drinking Plymouth in mine at the moment).

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#52 Chris Hennes

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 08:25 PM

As part of a big order of bitters-making paraphernalia I ordered 8 oz of quinine: I have no idea what form it is coming in (the website was none too descriptive), but I'm wondering if anyone has had success with their homemade tonic recipes.

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#53 slkinsey

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 11:49 AM

Where did you order the quinine? Most likely it is not quinine, but rather "quinine bark" a.k.a. cinchona bark. If you can get actual refined quinine, I'd love to know about it. But I doubt you can, since it is apparently fairly tightly controlled (it's used to cut illegal drugs).
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#54 Chris Hennes

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 04:13 PM

That is my suspicion, too, but the website is... poor, shall we say. It was cheap, though, so I figured I'd take my chances. I ordered from Tenzingmomo.com (I think someone uptopic suggested them).

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#55 Chris Hennes

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 12:56 PM

My order from Tenzingmomo.com arrived without a hitch: it contains, among other things, one bag of brown powder labeled "Cinchona Bark" and another bag of identical-looking brown powder labeled "Quinine." Presumably they are one and the same, despite the labeling differences.

Uptopic I see two different extraction methods: hot water and neutral spirits. Does anyone know which makes the most sense? Does the quinine dissolve in water or alcohol? I suppose using neutral spirits you're getting some of both, but is there any reason to do so?

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#56 EatYourChemistry

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 03:33 PM

I've been making my own homemade tonic for the past few months, and what a difference it makes! I started my experimenting with Jeffrey Morgenthaler's recipe. I also ordered my cinchona bark from Tenzingmomo -- and I agree with Chris, the site gives you very sparse details about the product you are ordering. Mine came in powder form -- which is a huge pain to filter (I usually end up allowing the sediment to settle overnight, and then pouring off the clear supernatant at the top. Then I just filter this (relatively) clear solution through coffee filters. Or, to save time, I use a Buchner and a vacuum flask. But that's not really necessary. The settling and coffee filters work well and its pretty fast.

Concerning Chris' question about how to extract the quinine from the cinchona bark, here's some information that I found. In my experience, boiling the solution for ~20 minutes results in a pleasantly bitter tonic syrup. But here's some details, and you can experiment for yourself. According the Merck Index, cinchona bark samples contain ~0.8 to 4% quinine, depending on the sample. Concerning quinine's solubility in water vs. ethanol (grain alcohol): it takes 760 ml of boiling water or 0.8 ml of pure ethanol to dissolve 1 gram of quinine.

I don't think using the alcohol for your extraction is a good idea. Because you're using cinchona bark and not purified quinine, you will be extracting all kinds of other funky stuff out of the bark with the alcohol, and I have no idea how that will affect the final product. Boiling water has worked just fine for me.

I haven't ever experimentally calculated what the final concentration of quinine is in my homemade tonic compared to that in commercial tonics, but the 'bitter' taste is comparable. Mine is probably even a little more bitter than commercial waters, because that's how I like it. But if there is enough insistence, I could probably run some tests on the homemade vs commercial to determine their relative quinine concentrations.

Just as another point, I like making my own tonic syrups because it also allows me to use different sweeteners. I've tried a few different variations including agave nectar, demerara sugar, evaporated cane sugar, and Splenda. My favorite is the evaporated cane sugar. It has a nice, full flavor which doesn't overpower the subtle flavors of coriander and cardamom that I add. I also always have the Splenda version around for my wife. She likes the diet tonic, and I couldn't stand to watch her drink the vile commercial versions, gag. So that was the impetus for figuring out how to make the homemade version.

#57 Chris Hennes

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 02:27 PM

Concerning quinine's solubility in water vs. ethanol (grain alcohol): it takes 760 ml of boiling water or 0.8 ml of pure ethanol to dissolve 1 gram of quinine.

I don't think using the alcohol for your extraction is a good idea. Because you're using cinchona bark and not purified quinine, you will be extracting all kinds of other funky stuff out of the bark with the alcohol, and I have no idea how that will affect the final product. Boiling water has worked just fine for me.

Actually, it seems to me that you would be far worse off getting "other funky stuff" using water, a.k.a. "the universal solvent." While with ethanol a very high percentage of the extract will be quinine (and of course some other stuff that is soluble in ethanol), with water you will get a much lower percentage of quinine and much higher percentage of other stuff, since the quinine is not very soluble in the water, and it is reasonably likely that plenty of the other compounds are also soluble in water. Of course, we are talking about tree bark here, so perhaps there isn't that much stuff that is soluble in water!

That said, of course I will be trying both: I have eight ounces of powdered bark, and am making very small amounts of extract for testing purposes.

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#58 Kent Wang

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 12:15 PM

How do you think Fever Tree compares to Q Tonic? I did a side-by-side tasting and found that I preferred Fever Tree. Can't remember why.

Portland Food and Drink has a lengthy comparison though it doesn't draw a winner.

#59 Mike S.

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 02:01 PM

I'm sure it's a matter of personal taste and the answer will vary accordingly. Both Q and F-T are great products, and both are substantially better than any of the mass-produced brands (Canada Dry, Schweppes, Poland Spring, etc.). Anyone serious about tonic-based drinks (and doesn't want to bother with a home-brew) should definitely try both and decide which tastes best to them.

I've tried both (in fact, I have both in my cabinet right now), and for me there's absolutely no question: I prefer Fever-Tree by a mile, for a variety of reasons. First, the carbonation of F-T's products (all of them that I've tried) is just fantastic -- tiny, tightly-packed bubbles like a fine champagne -- and creates a great mouth feel. Second, F-T tonic tastes cleaner, drier and more "crisp" to me; I'm just not much of a fan of the agave sweetener Q uses (but others may -- and do -- love it). Third, as someone who loves a nice big wedge of fresh lime in my G&T, to me the flavor profile of F-T works better with citrus garnishes. I also think F-T mixes better with gin; some folks say that Q mixes better with vodka, but honestly I've never been a fan of vodka-tonics. Finally, the size of the F-T bottles makes two perfectly-portioned G&Ts: 2 oz gin and 1/2 a bottle of F-T (~3.3 oz) and you're good to go.

If you are a fan of "diet" tonic water, try F-T's "naturally lite" tonic. It's quite good, although I do prefer the regular.
Cheers,

Mike

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#60 Lapin d'Argent

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 04:28 PM

Bump.

We've been enjoying the Q tonic, but it's a bit out of our budget for my DH's daily rum-and-tonic, so I'm now determined to finally experiment with making our own tonic. Having reviewed this thread for the umpteenth time, I realized I can get my quinine from from Zooscape (same as Q!), and use Johnder's recipe as a starting point.

But I do need help with one thing (well, OK, I'll probably need help with lots of things once I get started, but we'll leave those for another day...): the buchner filter. What should I get? Not even once having set foot in a chemistry class in my life, I have no experience with these things.

I wonder if this would be suitable? What sort of buchner filter do I need -- they seem to come in a wide range of measurements (and prices!) that I don't know how to evaluate.

Thanks!

- L.