Cocktail Lab met again this past Friday, the gang of four women that concoct the heavenly cocktail recipes reported in this blog. For this occasion I attempted to make homemade tonic water. I had most of the ingredients for a recipe I'd read about over the winter and was able to cobble together the remaining ingredients.
The natural source of quinine is cinchona bark, a plant native to the tropical Andes and western South America, which I bought in it's powdered form from Dandelion Botanical Company. According to Wikpedia, "The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quecua peoples of Peru and Bolivia, and long cultivated by them as a muscle relaxant to halt shivering due to low temperatures. The Jesuit Brother Agostino Salumbrino (1561–1642), an apothecary by training and who lived in Lima, observed the Quechua using the quinine-containing bark of the cinchona tree for that purpose. While its effect in treating malaria (and hence malaria-induced shivering) was entirely unrelated to its effect in controlling shivering from cold, it was nevertheless the correct medicine for malaria. The use of the “fever tree” bark was introduced into European medicine by Jesuit missionaries (Jesuit's bark). Jesuit Barnabé de Cobo (1582–1657), who explored Mexico and Peru, is credited with taking cinchona bark to Europe. He brought the bark from Lima to Spain, and afterwards to Rome and other parts of Italy, in 1632. After Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Jesuit missionaries were the first to bring the Jesuit's bark cinchona compound to Europe in 1632."
The recipe called for a stalk of lemongrass which I was unable to find. In it's stead I dipped a toothpick in lemongrass oil and swirled it around in the pot. A drop would have been too much so in this way I was better able to control the amount used. Another option would have been to dilute the oil in alcohol and use that by the drop.
The recipe also called for citric acid which I didn't have but after looking around the internet I learned that lemon juice is often substituted for it.
Homemade Tonic Water
2 cups of water
2 teaspoons of cinchona bark
1 1/4 teaspoons citric acid (or the juice of one lemon)
1 stalk lemongrass (or a toothpick dipped in lemongrass oil)
1 1/2 cups sugar
Zest the lemon and lime and place in a saucepan, making sure not to include the bitter pith. Juice lemon and lime and add juice to saucepan, along with water, cinchona bark, citric acid powder, lemongrass, and sugar. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture steep for 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and strain through paper coffee filters. If I'd known better I would have bought the bark in it's raw rather than powdered form to make it easier to filter. Prepare to wait about eight hours for it to completely filter. Put in a clean glass jar or bottle and refrigerate. It makes about a cup and a half of syrup. The ratio for creating the tonic water is one part tonic syrup to four parts carbonated water.
The day we met was the occasion of the 70th birthday of the premier frontman of rock and roll, Mick Jagger. I heard on the news that day that Mick keeps in shape with yoga and pilates, runs sprints, dances as much as he can and goes to bed early - 2am. I think Mick owes much of his success (besides paring with Keith) to the fact that he never really overdid it. He never became a drunk or a drug addict, never over-indulged. I read in Pattie Boyd's lovely memoir, "Wonderful Tonight", that after a particularly wild party at Friar Park (the estate she shared with George Harrison) she woke up the next morning, hungover and bleary, to find Mick up washing the dishes before he headed out for a run.
In this spirit we've created a drink deserving of Sir Mick - something not too potent and particularly refreshing on a hot summer eve.
The Mick Jagger
3 ounces tonic syrup
2 ounces grapefruit flavored vodka
12 ounces seltzer
Grapefruit vodka is pretty easy to make. Simply zest the rind of a pink grapefruit and add to two cups of plain vodka, let sit one month and strain.
By the way, the very next night I made up a batch to bring to the Prospect Park bandshell to see another premier frontman of classic rock, Robert Plant. Mr. Plant is another that maintained his composure during the turbulant 60's and 70's and has the pipes to prove it. Bravo!