This is part III in my adventure making my own tonic water. Today, I dissect the recipe posted by Jeffrey Morganthaler and tell you:
a) where I went wrong, and why I won’t do that again….
b) where I think the recipe could be improved and what I will do in attempt #2.
4 cups water
1 cup chopped lemongrass (roughly one large stalk) // I don’t know if this is a mistake, but I felt that there wasn’t enough lemongrass. This could be my mistake and I did not take a big enough stalk of lemongrass. I’m going to double it next time. Or buy one HUGE stalk of lemongrass.
¼ cup powdered cinchona bark // My mistake. I used cinchona bark chunks. Although I attempted to make a powder using a variety of methods, I failed. And the lack of surface area caused there to not be enough quinine and therefore bitterness. Here’s what I tried: first, I tried putting into a pepper mill. The chunks were too big to properly shred. I tried grinding it in a food processor [overheated] and coffee mill [overheated]. Okay, next time: buy the powder.
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Yesterday I showed you how I made my own tonic syrup. Today, I’m going to review my own tonic water. And tell you where I’m going to go next.
First, the tonic syrup has a nice thickness to it and a pleasant aroma. Hints of quinine, a bit of a vague herbal aroma, but primarily the citrus comes off a bit strong here. Lots of orange, maybe a hint of lime.
Tasting straight, its rather bracing and sour. Way too much orange and lime. There seems to be an almost “juice-like” element at play in here. Hints of lemonade/orangeade. There’s a little bit of bitterness on the aftertaste, but not as much as you might hope for in a good tonic. You can taste a bit of lemongrass in here, but the vibrancy is drowned out by the overwhelming citrus fruit.
Price: 12.99 for the Chinchona + about $1 for the three citrus fruits + $2 for the lemon grass + $5 for the Citric Acid. Divide by two since there’s enough for about 2 batches in what I bought. So about $10 / 500 mL
Best consumed: Umm, I think it can handle a strong juniper forward gin, but it overwhelms nearly anything that is put in it.
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For my first Tonic Water making experience I followed along with the seminal work on the topic, Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s blog post on the subject from a few years ago.
Firstly, I gathered all of the ingredients. I found most of the more difficult to find things at Kalustyans in New York
Exercising my zest muscle, zesting a series of citrus fruits. The best part of this is the oils that get all over your hands, and if you’re lucky- spring into your face with each zest.
The first step that I was a little uncertain of, which was juicing each of the three fruits.
1 teaspoon full [more or less] of Allspice Berries
Preparing to chop the Lemongrass
Adding the chopped lemongrass to the mixture.
Add water and bring to a boil
When boiling, lower to a simmer and put a lid on it
I decided to use gravity filtration. It took way too long. Next time I’d choose a french press if I could.
Gravity Filtration in full swing
The completely filtered tonic, before adding the simply syrup
The final syrup is gently heated with the simple syrup mixture.
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