Bartender-Approved Tips for Making Your Own Tonic

Thanks to these recipes, you'll never have to drink a corn syrup-laden G&T again.


photo by Bruce Peterson for Boston magazine

In this month’s Boston, we explored the upgraded gin and tonic, which can be vastly improved by using concentrated, small-batch tonic syrups in lieu of corn syrup-loaded, standard-issue tonic water. While the most fuss-free way to make over a gin and tonic is by using these syrups mixed with club soda (or buying quality single-serving bottled tonic water from the likes of Fever Tree or Q), enterprising home bartenders can make their own tonic from scratch, with the help of the below recipes from Spoke’s Felisha Foster and jm Curley’s Kevin Mabry. The former recipe is for a syrup to be mixed with club soda; the latter, for a concoction containing cinchona bark powder that will evoke a G&T.

Spoke’s tonic syrup recipe:

4 cups of water

3 cups of pure cane sugar

The juice and zest of 3 limes

6 tbsp. of citric acid

3 lemongrass stalks

1 ½ tbsp. of cinchona bark

Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add all other ingredients and let steep for an hour. Cool and refrigerate.

jm Curley’s 21 Temple gin & tonic recipe:

1/8 tsp. of ground cinchona powder

¾ oz. simple syrup

½ oz. of lemon juice

½ oz. of lime juice

1 oz. of Yellow Chartreuse

1 oz. of Plymouth Gin

Shake ingredients and top with soda water and garnish with an orange peel.