This is a spicier, heartier version of Todd Thrasher's original homemade tonic (see the recipe link). As with that recipe, you must first make a tonic syrup and then either mix with sparkling water (sodium-free sparkling water is suggested) or combine with cold water in a soda siphon if you have one.
The essential ingredient, quinine powder, is a bitter substance made from the bark of the cinchona tree. It is available at La Cuisine in Alexandria (703-836-4435) and can be ordered online from several purveyors including www.rain-tree.com and www.herbspro.com.
For a great Winter Gin & Tonic: Combine 5 1/2 ounces of Winter Tonic Water and 2 ounces of gin in a highball glass filled with ice; garnish with a lime wedge.
Make Ahead: This recipe yields about 30 ounces of tonic syrup, which, when combined with sparkling water or with cold water in a soda siphon, will yield roughly 20 Spiced Rum-and-tonic-size servings. The tonic syrup can refrigerated for up to 10 days.
Servings: 30 ounces
- 5 peppercorns, preferably Sichuan
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 10 whole cloves
- 5 allspice berries
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1/4 ounce freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 quarts water
- 3 cups light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon quinine powder
- 1/2 ounce vanilla bean, split and scraped
- Strips of peel from 1 whole orange (no pith), chopped
Use a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder designated for spices to finely crush the following: the peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon stick pieces, cloves, allspice, cardamom and nutmeg.
Heat the water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; once it comes to a boil, add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Add the ground spices, quinine powder, vanilla bean and its scrapings and the strips of orange peel; mix well and boil uncovered for 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced by about one-third.
Remove from heat; transfer to a heatproof container and refrigerate (or cool down in a bowl seated within a large bowl filled with ice cubes and water) until the mixture has cooled. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer at least twice, discarding any solids.
When ready to use the tonic water: If you have a soda siphon, use 10 ounces of tonic base to 26 ounces of cold filtered water, and use one CO2 charger. If you do not have a soda siphon, prepare only the amount of tonic water you'll need for the drinks at hand: 1 1/2 ounces of tonic syrup and 4 ounces of sparkling water for every serving.
From bartender Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve, the Majestic and PX.
Tested by Michael Taylor.
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