We love beer a lot, but we also love a good cocktail now and then.
Last week, we made homemade tonic water concentrate, so we’ll be able to cruise through the rest of the summer with the classiest of G&T’s. We used David Lebovitz’s recipe, with a couple of modifications. I’m sure the original recipe is stellar, and with these changes we still got a super delicious result.
We mixed about 1:1:1 gin: tonic: sparkling water and added a wedge of lime and maybe a few sliced cucumbers. We also cheated and tried it out after 1 day of steeping instead of 2…no regrets.
To accompany the G&T’s, we suggest Dumm’s pizza.
Tonic Water Concentrate
Makes about 1 quart (1l)
Adapted by David Lebovitz from Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor
There is plenty of wiggle room in this recipe – feel free to change up the spice mix or use a different blend of citrus fruits. Use organic citrus fruits if possible, and wash the surfaces well. We used less lemongrass (about 1/4 as much), a little more cardamom, and powdered chinchona bark instead of chopped, and it turned out great.
To make the simple syrup, bring 1 1/4 cup (250g) of sugar to a boil with 1 cup (250ml) of water, stirring frequently, for one minute, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
To use this tonic water, mix it 1:1 (in equal parts) with sparkling water or club soda.
- 1 quart (1l) water
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 2 1/2 ounces (75g) chopped lemongrass (use the bottom 2/3rds of the stalks, trimming off the root end first)
- 3 tablespoons (33g) citric acid
- 1/4 cup (22g) chopped chinchona bark
- 10 allspice berries
- 5 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
- 2 small star anise
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) simple syrup (see headnote)
1. Pour the water into a medium-sized nonreactive saucepan. Add the zest from the grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime. (You can remove it with a sharp vegetable peeler, in strips, or with a citrus zester.) Halve, then juice the citrus fruits and add the juice to the saucepan.
2. Add the lemongrass, citric acid, chinchona bark, allspice, cardamom, star anise, salt, and black peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid, leaving it slightly askew, and let it simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and cool to room temperature.
3. Pour into a container, such as a large screw-top jar, and chill for 2 days in the refrigerator, shaking it gently a couple of times a day.
4. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer, preferably into a large measuring cup (which will make the next step easier). Discard the spices, lemongrass, bark, and citrus peels. Strain the mixture again, this time through a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth, muslin, or a coffee filter. (If using a coffee filter, it’ll remove most traces of the spice powder but it’ll take a bit of time, so be patient.)
5. Add the sugar syrup, then pour into clean bottles or screw-top jars and refrigerate until ready to use. (We accidentally added the simple syrup during the initial boil and it didn’t seem to cause any problems)
To use the tonic water: Pour off the tonic water, avoiding disturbing any bark and spice sediment that might settle into the bottom of the bottle or jar, then add an equal amount of sparkling water to obtain the quantity that you need. Or just go halvsies with sparkling water as you mix your cocktails.
Storage: The tonic water can be kept for several months in the refrigerator. Don’t tighten the lid as the tonic water can ferment a bit and you want any air to be able to escape.
*this recipe is Joni-approved*