Friday, June 4, 2010

Best Gin and Tonic Ever

I'm currently sipping the best Gin and Tonic I've ever had. No kidding. The key is making your own Tonic Water. What you get in a can at the store is just so over-sweetened and lacking in sophistication that your tongue will probably explode with joy when you try this:

Tonic Water

Modified from Jeffrey Mogenhaler's Recipe

4 cups water
1 cup chopped lemongrass (roughly one large stalk)
1/4 cup powdered cinchona bark (try a well-stocked vitamin store)
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tsp whole allspice berries
1/4 cup citric acid (try a pharmacy)
1/4 tsp Kosher salt

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain out solids using a strainer or chinois. You’ll need to fine-strain the mixture, as it still contains quite a bit of the cinchona bark. You can use a coffee filter and wait for an hour or more, or do as I do and run the whole mixture through a French coffee press.

Tay's Notes
Ok, here is where I depart from Jeffrey. He then adds Agave syrup to sweaten this mixture. I prefer to simply leave it as is and add the sweatener when assembling the drink. Since I keep some simple syrup in the fridge, this is easily done.

BTW, the liquid that results will be brown and quite opaque, almost like chocolate milk. Don't be worried, this is highly concentrated stuff that will be diluted in the final drink. This recipe makes about 1 Liter (4 cups), which will make about 34 G&T's!

To make the gin and tonic:
1 1/2 oz. Gin (I'd recommend Bombay Sapphire in this application)
1 oz. Tonic Syrup (above)
1/2 oz. simple syrup
4 1/2 oz (approx 3 jiggers) seltzer or fizzy water of your choice
Stir together in a glass. Add ice and maybe a jime for garnish.

Next time I'll follow some other people's advice and lower the amount of citric acid, up the lemon grass, and maybe try a pinch of cinnamon.

This is really, really tasty stuff, and quite unlike any gin and tonic you've ever had. Yet it also certainly the same drink, just much, must better.

BTW, it's the cinchona bark that gives gin and tonics their particularly unique flavour. It's a no-joke remedy for Malaria symptoms, and is said to have other health benefits (hence the "Tonic"). Exploring the benefits of the active compound in Cinchona, Quinine, was important in the foundation of Homeopathic medicine:
The birth of homeopathy was based on quinine testing. The founder of homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, when translating the Cullen's Materia medica, noticed that Dr. Cullen wrote that quinine cures malaria and can also produce malaria. Dr. Hahnemann took daily a large non-homeopathic dose of quinine bark. After two weeks, he said he felt malaria-like symptoms. This idea of "like cures like" was the starting point of his writings on "Homeopathy". (source)


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