Getting Crafty–Homemade Tonic

I may have mentioned this before, but I live with a pretty frugal guy. Joe is the driving force behind all those times when I say to myself, “Do I really need that?” He’s also the main reason I have gotten really good at justifying kitchen expenses. One recent kitchen expense was a Sodastream machine.

I accidentally started a habit buying a bottle or two of sparkling water when I did our weekly shopping trip, plus the occasional bottle while out and about. And then these machines started invading the homes of everyone I know. I figured if there was going to be some sort of robot soda invasion I wanted to be a part of it, so after much hemming and hawing about if it was really worth it (which was weird considering how environmentally conscious we are, on top of the frugality) we finally bought one. With a coupon.

Then I started experimenting with all sorts of different simple syrups to flavor the water. Orange vanilla syrup leftover from candying orange peels. Rosemary simple syrup made from branches swiped on walks with the kid. Fennel syrup made from the fronds leftover from all the salad I eat.

But when I saw an article about homemade tonic, it kind of blew my mind. It was one of the reasons we finally caved and bought the machine, the idea that I could somehow make tonic from scratch. Seeing that article, along with all the different links it had for variations on tonic syrup was kind of overwhelming. I decided to just pick the one that looked like it had a lot of positive reviews and start there. Little did I know it would actually make more than a quart of tonic syrup. Now I have a lot of gin to drink…

Which totally isn’t a bad thing. Practicing for summer is never a bad thing.

So it turned out that I didn’t have any regular oranges lying around. This was back when we were still in love with little clementines and were eating them by the pound, and before citrus season was in full swing and I started obsessively buying anything I could zest. No big deal I decided. Also no big deal to me was the fact that I neglected to buy whole allspice berries when I went down to Tenzing Momo (at Pike Place Market) to buy the required Cinchona bark. I just used whole cloves instead.

One thing I did do just as Morgenthaler suggested was to strain it through my french press, which I had never though of using in that sort of capacity. Best kitchen tip I’ve gotten in a long long time, let me tell you.

In the end, if you drink a lot of things that need tonic in it, I’d say the recipe was worth the small amount of time it took. After all, it is a syrup so it will last a while in the fridge. It definitely different than commercial tonic, which I think is too sweet but without any real flavor. If you’re into making things homemade just for the sake of it, then this is probably a good thing to add to your repertoire.

And if it can convince your significant other to let you pick up a new kitchen gadget then you get bonus points!

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