Tonic water derives its bitterness from quinine, a purified substance derived from the bark of the cinchona tree. Paired with gin, tonic water makes for one of summer's most refreshing cocktails. At Bar Code in Bellevue, Washington, the gin and tonic is made in a unique manner: The gin itself is infused with cinchona bark, citrus, and other aromatics. Then, rather than tonic, soda water is added to make the drink. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2014 issue with Camper English's story "Miracle Cure."
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 tbsp. citric acid
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 (750-ml.) bottle dry gin
- 1 cup 190-proof Everclear
- 1 tbsp. cinchona bark powder
- 1 tbsp. grated grapefruit zest
- 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
- 1 tbsp. grated lime zest, plus wedge for garnish
- 1 tsp. grated orange zest
- ¼ tsp. whole allspice, crushed
- 8 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, chopped
- ¼ stalk lemongrass, chopped
- 4 oz. club soda
Make the infused gin: Boil 1 cup sugar, the citric acid, salt, and ½ cup water in a 1-qt. saucepan until sugar is dissolved, 1–2 minutes; chill syrup. Stir remaining ingredients except lime wedge and club soda in a sanitized 1-gal. glass jar; let sit at room temperature for 3 days. Strain tonic into a sanitized 1-qt. jar; stir in reserved syrup.
Make cocktail: Stir 2 oz. tonic with club soda in ice-filled collins glass. Squeeze in lime wedge and drop into drink.