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scott123

Making Tonic Water and Tonic/Quinine Syrup

78 posts in this topic

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.

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).


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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).


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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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).


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.

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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.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.

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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

"The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind."

- Bogart

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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.

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We're a Fever Tree household, and always have a few bottles handy. However, I started fiddling around with this Imbibe magazine tonic syrup recipe by Kevin Ludwig at Beaker & Flask in Portland. Here is a halved recipe with several items converted to weight:

300 g sugar

450 g water

13 g quinine (cinchona powder -- tx Hennes!)

35 g citric acid

I used two, not 1 1/2, limes, and 12 kaffir lime leaves instead of the lemon grass. Citrusy aromatics will be fun to play around with moving forward, it's clear.

Next time, I'm definitely cutting the citric acid back by half or so, as it's too much for my tastes. Still, as others have said here, the ability to control these variables is going to make for some real fun.

ETA: some white cardamom tincture is another tasty addition.


Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Did some mixing and testing over the weekend.

Used 20 g cut cinchona bark: 1 cup of water (about 220g). Heated to boiling, then steeped for 30 minutes. Cooled (had reduced to 1/2 cup), then strained through a DIY 1-micron polyester filter rigged to an aeropress.

The result was gorgeous, a transparent light-brown with no sediment.

Added a half cup of water to get it back to original dilution, as well as 220g of sugar to create a syrup.

I found that this syrup tastes great with gin, but it's still a little bit too sweet and not bitter enough. I think I will up the cinchona even more. Also, I found that citric acid is absolutely crucial, but in small quantities, as Chris mentioned. Adding lemon juice and lime juice somehow just don't cut it.


I blog about science and cooking: www.sciencefare.org

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Coming across this thread in my "perfect" gin & tonic research, while not using bark or syrup, I decided I may as well report in with my results.

I decided to see how easy/hard it was just to get quinine sulfate and start from there. The reason was ultimately a desire to have better control over the finsihed product. I actually found several viable sources for USP grade chemical, but several required some proof of academic affiliation, i.e I would either have to work/teach at an actual educational instituion or lie. In the end, I found two soruces that would ship small quanitites of quinine sulfate - The Lab Depot (www.labdepotinc.com) and ArtChemicals (artchemicals.com). The latter will ship out of the US, while the former will not.

Past that point, I followed some of the guidelines around process provided by Dave Arnold (Thanks Dave!) in one of the Harvard lectures and ran some taste experiments. After some spirit-fueled debate, the recipe that scored the highest was more or less the following:

60 ml Gin

25 ml Clarified Lime Juice

15 ml Simple Syrup

100 ml water

3 ml of 0.2 % Quinine solution

Pinch of salt

Mix the above and chill in Freezer. Add to ISI (optionally with ice), shake and carbonate with two CO2 and one N2O charge. Serve and enjoy slowly. Nice balance of taste that gets even better as you go and bubbles that last right to the end. I should say that this results in a very stiff drink, so I'm not sure more than one would be required, but your mileage may vary.


Edited by Bohemian (log)

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I'm about to embark on a few experiments with making my own tonic. I recently acquired a Primo Flavorstation soda machine and a bunch of accessories on the cheap, it's discontinued, and want to make something special for my first batch of homemade soda.

 

Anyway, I've looked around at some formulas here and other places online, and have some ideas for changes based on personal preference.

 

I notice that some recipes have you boiling citrus peel and in some cases juice, along with dry things like allspice berries for about twenty minutes. IMO, cooked lemon peel isn't a great flavor. (ditto for lime and orange) I am thinking about finely grating the zest into a small amount of grain alcohol and letting it infuse for a couple of days. Then, adding the strained infusion at the end of the process, to the cooled, strained product along with freshly squeezed juice. Yes, it will make the tonic alcoholic, but, that's not really a problem when it's just for home consumption. I also know it won't have a long shelf life, but, I'll be keeping the base refrigerated and using it all up within 5 days. (if it's good, I'll take some to a friend's birthday party) I'm also willing to bet that my tonic will be cloudy, but, I don't care. Anyone foresee any issues I might have with this?

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Question for the above recipe. Why the n2o? When carbonating.

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Thanks. Cavitation to infuse.

I take it you cavitate first then carbonate. Is that correct?


Edited by Volition (log)

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I had the opportunity to speak to a chemist yesterday and asked him about cinchona and extracting the quinine from it. (early on in this thread, thee was speculation about different solvents) He said that water with added acid, like the citric acid that's in most recipes, would be one of the best ways extract the quinine from the bark -for those of us without access to fancy extraction machines. This sync's up with my, limited research in old formula books where I found a recommendation to use hydrochloric acid to encourage the quinine to mix with the water. Essentially, grain alcohol would be better than plain water, but, water with acid works better than alcohol, in this case.

 

Right now, I have a small jar of Everclear with the peels from a lemon, lime, and orange along with some allspice berries in it. The flavor is pretty intense and I am fairly certain that I wont need all of it. I am taking apart Jeffrey Morgenthaler's recipe and am probably going to wind up re-assembling it with different proportions. I am debating whether or not lemongrass is needed at all, but, I have a small amount in Everclear as well -I'll test the flavor as an additive at the end. -Same with the juice from the lemon, lime and orange -the fruit is waiting in the fridge right now. I am thinking of substituting my 'complex syrup' made with jaggery and gum arabic for the agave syrup.

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Ok, update time. I decided to try infusing lemongrass in EverClear, and it didn't work. The liquid was a delightful bright green color, but had no flavor for days, until finally after 5 days, it took on a vague, somewhat green vegetable flavor -but just a little bit. So, I wound up cooking lemongrass in with the bark and citric acid. However, I used a lot less lemongrass than the original recipe called for. That said, I like my final product. The citrus flavors and allspice are very subtle. I had infused the citrus peels and allspice in a cup of EverClear, I wound up only using a half cup of that, so, I'll trim my recipe down, and use the current leftovers in vin d'orange.

 

I also wound up using an entire quart of 'complex syrup' to balance out the tartness.

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I've done a very successful tonic batch recently.

 

Here's what I used:

 

2T cinchona bark - the chunky stuff, not the fine powder

1lb lemongrass - fresh from the korean market

dried peel of 1 temple orange - homemade... dried the peel of an orange I ate over the winter.

2 drops lime oil - NOW foods brand is what I used.

citric acid - standard food safe chemical grade... same stuff I use to clean my espresso machine.

 

Here's how I did it:

 

Part I - Dealing with the cinchona

 

In the past, I've dumped the cinchona bark in with the other stuff... and it made the tonic brown and woodsy and bark-flavored with weird floral notes.  I did no want that.  Noting the post above that mentions that quinine is much more soluble in alcohol than in water I decided to make use of that trait.  This time I made cinchona tea... twice... and threw it out both times. Standard 5 minute steep with water near boiling.  It was bitter and bark-y and weird like all of the boiled-in-water cinchona experiments before.  I then soaked the pre-boiled cinchona in some cheap vodka for a half hour.  That made for some slightly brown and very bitter quinine tincture.  I've still got 20x the quinine tincture I used in this batch in a bottle.

 

Part II - Getting the citrus/sour/sweet thing balanced

 

I took the pound of lemongrass, 5 big long stalks and ran them through the slicing blade on the food processor.  Then I took the heap of little woody circles and put them in a pot with 2 cups of sugar and the orange peel, and added water to cover.  Heated to boiling.  Added lime oil while it was boiling in hopes of it emulsifying some.  Let it cool and filled a 750ml bottle with it.   Didn't measure the citric acid I added... Just until it tasted "right" to me. 

 

Part III - Getting it together

 

So I find that the quinine tincture goes a long long way.  2 or so tablespoons of it added to the 750 ml bottle  seems about right for a good tonic-y bitterness. 

 

Part IV - Using it

 

So far, I find that a 3/4 oz measure of the tonic syrup makes a good 10oz glass of gin and tonic when combined with a 1 1/2 oz measure of gin, and topped with seltzer and a squeeze of lime.

 

Moral of the story-  boil your cinchona... then throw out the tea and extract the quinine you need with alcohol. 

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Moral of the story-  boil your cinchona... then throw out the tea and extract the quinine you need with alcohol. 

 

very interesting idea. I always thought I'd find a research paper that detailed more of how commercial tonic is made but I never have. I suspect they do something similar to remove a lot of color and undesirable compounds. I've been helping someone to develop a product with Chaga, which is a fungus that grows on birch trees. extracting flavor from it has been a unique challenge and some parts of it are very water soluble and others are only alcohol soluble. most people extract it in boiling water first and then take the insoluble grounds and put those in high proof alcohol. eventually the water extract and the ethanol extract are married.

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I've still got 20x the quinine tincture I used in this batch in a bottle.

 

What would that be like added to just gin -- sort of a minimalist Gin & Tonic?


Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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What would that be like added to just gin -- sort of a minimalist Gin & Tonic?

My guess?  Unpleasant and potentially dangerous, if the FDA dosage rec of 82 mg/l is a threshold for bad things starting to happen... Really, the bitterness of tonic is not the majority of the flavor in there... it's just the unusual aspect, so it is what we notice and pay attention to.  Commercial tonics are mostly sweet, with a bit of sour and a hint of bitter... look at the approaches above in the thread that use sugar, citric and quinine and little else... without the complexity of the citrus-y melange in the background, gin and quinine would be horrible.

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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