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Homemade Tonic

A delicious mixer for your gin!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 40 drinks (makes 5 cups).
Author: The Bojon Gourmet


  • 2 limes
  • 1 lemon
  • one package (.37 ounce) Mamà brand quinine (cinchona) bark pieces (a scant 3 tablespoons of pieces measuring about 1/2 inch square) (see headnote for sources)
  • 1 cup chopped lemongrass , (from about 3 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon balm or lemon verbena leaves (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons citric acid
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar


  • Using a sharp knife, vegetable peeler or zester, pare off the colorful peel of the citrus fruits leaving the white pith behind. Combine the peel, bark, lemongrass, lemon balm, citric acid and water in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth, or a coffee filter if there are any fine particles that bother you.)
  • Rinse out the saucepan and combine the flavored water with the sugar. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar, remove from the heat and add the juice from the limes and lemon. Let cool. Pour into glass bottles and store in the fridge for at least several weeks. The flavors will meld with time.


Adapted from The Food Dude.
This makes a fairly mild, complex and citrusy tonic. I add bitters to the drinks when I mix them, but I plan to try doubling the cinchona bark next time for more bitterness and bite.
I found Mamà brand quinine bark (pictured above) at an Asian/Latin market called Duc Loi in the Mission district of San Francisco. You can also buy or order quinine (cinchona) bark from Lhasa Karnak in Berkeley. Lhasa Karnak's cinchona bark comes finely chopped, and a friend who used 3 tablespoons of it in this recipe claimed that its bitterness was much too strong (though others have claimed that it's just right!) so you may want to start with half the amount of cinchona if you use a different brand than Mamà.
Nutritional values are based on one of forty servings fo tonic.
To make a Gin and Tonic:
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cooled tonic syrup.
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) gin (such as New Amsterdam, No. 209 or Junipero).
4 drops Angostura bitters ice cubes sparkling water.
1 - 2 lime wedges.
Combine the syrup, gin and bitters in a glass. Add the ice, squeeze in the lime wedges and add them as well, and top with sparkling water. Give it a stir, and enjoy.


Calories: 87kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 22mg | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 2.6mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Making this? I'd love to see!Tag your snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet!