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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I needed a distraction this evening; my grandfather passed away this morning and I didn’t really want to think about it any longer.

So, I made my own tonic water. I followed two different recipes, and used a slightly different ingredient mix:

  • 4 cups water
  • Zest and juice of orange
  • Zest and juice of lemon
  • Zest and juice of lime
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 white cardamom pods
  • 2 juniper berries
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cinchona bark
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh lemongrass

Again, following their directions, this was my procedure:

Bring to boil all ingredients above, simmer 20 minutes thereafter, strain; mix with agave syrup in 3:2 ratio with a cup of seltzer water before use. I topped it off with a healthy double of Bombay Sapphire, and that made for a tall gin and tonic of good quality.

I ordered my bark from Tenzing Momo; I found it similarly shady as the linked articles, yet the product did arrive. I couldn’t find citric acid yet, so I made the batch without, though I think I’ll add it next time.

The biggest problem I ran into was straining; trying to run through coffee filters just caused the coffee filters to cake up after a few drops passed through; I ended up wasting more than half the batch to wet filters, I’m guessing. I need to figure out a better way to filter it; perhaps I need to do some initial rough passes with cheesecloth and a strainer before attempting to pass things through the coffee filters. Whatever the case, I need to find a better method for filtering the fluid. I did use a french press for the initial separation, and this did a good job of punting a couple of inches of bark sludge to the bottom, but the liquid was still full of gunk; perhaps I needed to let it sit longer before attempting to filter… Who knows.

I wonder if I have any chemist friends who know how best to filter sludge into a relatively particulate-free liquid with minimal fluid loss…

The end product is pretty nice; far more complex and yet more mild than commercial tonic water, and loads less syrupy and sweet (bonus). Combined with gin, it makes for a very interesting drink with depth that can’t be had in the normal gin and tonic, suitable for the more interesting premium gins made these days.