Tasting the homemade version of tonic water at Portland, Oregon’s Teardrop Cocktail Lounge changed our whole perspective on the mixer. There, owner Daniel Shoemaker makes it spiced with Sichuan peppercorns and cardamom, then bottles and carbonates it with champagne yeast. He kindly shared his recipe, which we’ve adapted into a tonic syrup for the home cook—just add carbonated water, then drink it on its own as a dry, sophisticated soda, or mix it with some gin for a gin and tonic unlike any you’ve tasted.
What to buy: Cinchona bark, a.k.a. quinine bark, is what gives tonic water its characteristic bitter flavor. It’s a dark reddish-brown, so don’t be thrown off when this recipe gives you orange-ish tonic water instead of the clear stuff you’re used to. You can order quinine bark powder online from ZooScape.com.
This recipe was featured as part of our DIY Holiday Gifts Advent Calendar.
For the tonic water: