Ooooh, you’re going to be hearing from all the coffee geeks!
Best gift I ever gave my husband was his coffee roaster. I don’t drink coffee but to him there is no comparison between store bought and what he roasts. He has to drink decaf, and has a far greater selection by ordering the green beans online. If you’re going to be a foodie, better think about getting that roaster!
You definitely aren’t alone, my friend! We made tonic syrup about 2 months ago from a similar recipe and my husband has been using it ever since! I, for one, usually don’t like the bitterness of tonic water, but this was much better and I even enjoyed a gin/tonic or two (three?) myself. Next time, we’ll give this variation a try too (ours didn’t have lavender, and we used agave nectar instead of simple syrup). nice work!
oh, and I still can’t believe you had cinchona in your drawer…. that’s crazy!
Tim, this is excellent. I am now tempted to go PURCHASE those assorted ingredients that I don’t have on hand, which would be several though not all of them. In other words, I don’t think anyone here will find you ridiculous. (:
Ah, I had been WAITING for the post on the infamous quinine syrup! And here it is, and looking more lovely and tasty than I could have imagined. Finally, a use for all that cinchona bark I had sitting around in my kitchen.
Also: on the spectrum of obsessive foodie-ness, I think roasting one’s own coffee beans is WAY less strange than making homemade quinine syrup. But maybe I’m just saying that because I’m seriously considering purchasing the FreshRoast 5000, and the Coffee and Tea Exchange across the street from me has green coffee beans for sale. It would be so easy…
At any rate, nice work! Have a gin and tonic (or five) and enjoy what has finally become a real Chicago summer!
O synchronicity. I just yesterday received my shipment of John’s Premium Tonic Syrup, just last evening mixed up my first premium gin and tonic. It was delicious, but I couldn’t help thinking (looking at those tiny little $6.99 bottles) ‘it can’t be that hard to make this stuff yourself’. Et voila…today you supply the recipe. Thank you, thank you!
Haha, this made me crack up when I read it! We are in the process of roasting our own coffee beans to sell in the Chicago area (let me know if you want to try them–I’d be happy to mail you some!) and it does seem totally crazy sometimes. Who are we, seriously?? What are we doing? Did we really just build an entire roaster out of a gas grill? Oh the things we do for good drinks. :)
I love the idea of making quinine syrup, so awesome! I never would have thought to make my own, but it looks really great and I’m sure it tastes great too. Maybe this will have to be our next feat!
Three cheers for you guys! I love it when bloggers step off the beaten path with a okay-we-use-this-but-you-might-not-it’s-weird-and-it’s-great posts. This stuff sounds wonderful, even for someone who’s not a G&T addict.
“…the perfect recipe for someone with some cinchona bark lying around.” HA! Ken
I come from a family of dedicated gin&tonic tipplers. At 8 years old I was schooled in the ways of gin&tonic mixing while out on camping trips so that I could bartend once the elders got too pickled. This is probably the greatest gift I could make them. Bottles of homemade quinine syrup? I’d probably win greatest granddaughter/daughter/niece of all time status. This is really fun, thanks a lot.
I’m currently in the process of making my own rhubarb bitters and ginger syrup, so I’m kinda on a mixology roll right now anyway :)
Tim, this sounds incredible. I’ve been thinking about playing with gin-and-tonic-like flavours in dessert for ages, but finding something tonic-flavoured has been a stumbling block. I have a feeling that this syrup is going to lead to great things…Thanks for sharing!
Colleen- this recipe is perfect for you!
Katie- I have been thinking about this and desserts a lot. I kind of want to try it with blueberries. A blueberry tonic sorbet?
Thanks for the fun comments, everyone.
This is so great. I doubt there are many who would write about making their own quinine syrup. It looks far more appealing than standard tonic and i would love to have some of this to add to my gin.
Am so impressed you had some of this cinchona bark lying around….a true pro! x
Gin & Tonics are my absolute favorite summer drinks. Well, really, anytime of year drinks. I was schooled in making them when I was a wee lass by my Grandparents. I think its brilliant that you made this at home! I am a little intimidated by the ingredients, but I think it would make an awesome Xmas gift for fellow G&T drinkers. Maybe I will brew a pot this fall/winter.
Tim…you’re on the right track with the blueberry tonic sorbet. I recently had a blueberry (gin) martini with a touch of maple syrup…really really nice. It made me think of a gin and tonic with a few muddled berries…could be nice.
The photos in this post are just stunning. After sipping a g&t with housemade tonic at Boot and Shoe Service in Oakland, CA a few years ago, I learned how to make my own tonic with the help of some crafty/foodie friends. We drink them pretty much non-stop when it’s hot! Thanks for making me feel like less of a freak. : )
Loved the blog-This may help us as we are on the great search for that great India tonic that is used in Europe for their g and t’s. Not so sweet-actually bracing, on a warm sunny afternoon. We have ordered John’s Syrup but it too, is a tad sweeter.Now my search will be on for cinchona bark! Oh-and with blueberries-sublime!
Tim, where did you get YOUR cinchona bark? Do y’all have cinchona trees growing in the parks in Chicago?! I’ll check out Alanna’s recommendation of Lhasa Karnak next time I’m up in Berkeley (really, if any place has it, OF COURSE it’s an herb shop in Berkeley, right?!)
Emma, Yes, on a dewy morning I harvested it in a nearby field. Joking! It was in the drawer. Bryan says he ordered it online but it is no longer sold where he bought. There is some available on Amazon by the pound. Maybe you could talk friends into going in on it with you?
Too funny, as we both roast our own coffee and have just finished off the tonic we made last summer! For what it’s worth, we did find powdered cinchona bark – of course I can’t remember where we got it, somewhere online though by googling for it. And just a word of warning – once you’ve had a G&T w/ this, one w/ commercial tonic will taste WAY too sweet.
Tim, thank you for posting this! I’ve loved your blog for quite a while now and this post really takes it to the next level. I started a batch earlier this week and was finally able to taste the final product last night. Amazing! The flavor is beautifully complex and balanced. None of the individual ingredients stood out to me, they all played nicely together. I did decrease the simple syrup amount by about 25% as I thought it was a little too sweet. Looking forward to a drink tonight to kick off the weekend. Thanks again!
Thanks for checking in, and for the support. Yeah, I went back and forth on the sweetness. I initially thought maybe too sweet, but then I liked it in the gin and tonic. Glad you adjusted it. On my next go I want to try playing around with proportions a little and see what happens. Anyway, happy drinking…
I’m just sipping my first G&T with my homemade syrup. Oh. My.
I made a few tweaks: after looking around at recipes, I opted to soak the cinchona powder in vodka overnight (grain alcohol was recommended, but I can’t get it here in Vermont). And I used juniper berries and coriander seed instead of allspice. The result is just as bitter as I’d hoped (so far no tonic or quinine syrup has quite satisfied in that regard), but also bright, citrusy, and floral (and not too sweet).
Any interest in swapping a small sample for comparison?
Not sure whether I’d actually ever get around to tracking down cinchona to make this, but I love knowing that if I did, I could! I don’t think it’s all that weird, either, especially given the recent uptick in the craft cocktail movement. I have friends that make their own bitters, why not quinine syrup?
I made this for our 4th of July get-together with another couple. My husband was skeptical and not sure he wanted to waste his special gin on an unknown, but he and the other G&T drinkers loved it. Thanks
The amazing Kalustyan’s in New York carries cinchona bark, and it’s available by mail order on their website. In the store (it’s up on the second floor) they have it available as chunks of bark or already ground to a fine powder (looks like cinnamon) for the same price.
Hey Jen- Well, I don’t know my exact proportions but I fill a glass with ice, squeeze a wedge of lime into glass and throw in the wedge for good measure. Then I add some gin and quinine syrup and fill the glass with soda/sparkling water. You’ll have to play around with your own proportions, but that is the general idea. Cheers!
This is amazing! I have been getting compliments left and right on this syrup, and I am about to make another batch because it is gone! Such a surprising and fantastic combination of flavors. Love it. Thank you, Tim.
Love the recipe too never thought of adding other flavors, but just made some grapefruit and blood orange shrub for which the peels had to laboriously de-pithed. Good thing I saved them so I can use them in this.
Just picked up some Cinchona bark at the local apothecary, alas it wasn’t powdered. I only have one coffee grinder and don’t want to clean it of coffee flavors. I was thinking of pounding the bark with a hammer inside a bag and doing the decoction with it that way. Do you think it will give enough flavor to the syrup? Plus I’m thinking it will filter out faster if unpowdered.
PS I will send you some weight measurements if I get a good tasting batch. It would be better to know the flavorings by weight to make each batch more consistent regardless of their form or size of pieces. Thanks so much
I’m really enjoying your site. After you make the quinine syrup let it
glow in the dark with a black light. Really! Saw that on another food
blog last year and made glow in the dark jello with tonic water.
Great post! So I have 2 cinchona bark maintenance questions. I’m gonna be trying to make some Barolo Chinato, so I’ll be infusing a grain alcohol with the bark. 1. Do I need to thoroughly wash the bark? And 2. How long will the bark leftover keep for? I found some from Honduras on eBay but I don’t need the full pound of it! How good does it keep in my drawer? Thanks!
Hey Jonathan, I am not the expert you were hoping I would be. I’ve only worked with it a couple of times. 1. I did not wash my bark- but it looked “clean” and so it never crossed my mind. 2. I think it will keep indefinitely, as long as it is dry and airtight. I made this with bark that had probably been in my kitchen for a year or more and it was still fine. I will use the same bark the next time I make this.
I’ve been waiting and waiting since you posted this for a weekend when I had enough time to get the ingredients and put this together, and it finally came. I just made this for my mom for Mother’s Day a week or so ago. She used to drink gin & tonics at my horse shows when I was little, and I’d drink plain tonic water. I can’t say I drink it without the gin anymore though… Looks like there are a lot of us nostalgic G&T people out there!
Anyways, this stuff is so good. It’ll be fun to play around with the ratios of the non-cinchona ingredients when I make it again. I might add some ginger and peppercorns for some added spice on my next run.
Thank you so much for sharing yet another wonderful recipe!
(NOTE: For people in SF, you can get all of the ingredients, including the cinchona, at Duc Loi market in the Mission. Cost me about $16 altogether.)
Hoping to find out if this can be used for my husband health needs for leg cramps. His doctor has recommended for cramps and I am looking for a better flavor than commercial “store bought” brands. Thank you!
I have been looking for a recipe using cinchona bark (Smallflower brand) so I could make something to use for leg cramps. But, I can’t do sugar or most sugar substitutes, so am hoping this recipe will work somehow with stevia. I have found an “instant tea” recipe on pennherb.com (where it is made pouring boiling water over 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. of ground bark and then sweetened to taste, and with lemon if desired). I haven’t tried that yet either…I found your site by happy accident because I thought maybe I should wash the bark first (probably will)and that question led me here. I was a little afraid of the stuff now that I bought it, wondering how much quinine I would be ingesting. But your recipe sounds much more palatable…I know it is all about the G&T, but vodka tonics are pretty good, too! Now I think I will try both recipes. Thank you!
I found your recipe whilst looking on the net for healthy tonic water alternatives. I was really inspired by your writing and pictures for this tonic syrup and would love to try it. I love my G&T’s in summer but have been told to cut back on my cane sugar intake. Please could you recommend a non-cane sugar healthy alternative for the “simple syrup”. Thank you!
Hi Simon- I am probably not the right person to ask since I don’t have this limitation. Any sugar substitutes will add additional flavors that will change the recipe entirely. You can control how much of the syrup you mix with your sparkling water or cocktail, so that might be a better way to control the sugar. Good luck!