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Cranberry Orange Tonic Syrup

I absolutely love making my own tonic syrup for Gin & Tonics. It is much more refreshing and tasty than anything on the store shelves and you can totally control what ingredients are in your drink (no HFCS please!!). For our family gathering, I was asked to bring a cocktail. I thought a festive version of a gin and tonic would enjoyed by all - not to sweet, not too strong. And who doesn't love a G&T! The cranberry, star anise and orange garnish was inspired by the many innovative Ginoterias in Spain.

Cinchona bark is the main medicinal ingredient in tonic water and contains quinine. Quinine is a cure for malaria, which is why it gained popularity in many British Colonies during the 20th century. Quinine doesn't taste very good on it's own - but mixed with gin, it quickly became a popular drink in the colonial tropics. Cranberries are also known have many medicinal benefits as well, and are used by some to help with colds & flus, type 2 diabetes, kidney stones and ulcers.

Recipe: Cranberry Orange Tonic Syrup

First, gather your ingredients:

1 cup fresh cranberries

2 oranges

1 lemon

1/4 cup cinchona bark*

8 Juniper berries

5 Black Peppercorn

5 Green Cardamom Pods

2 Tbsp citric acid (only if you want to store in the fridge)

2 cups water

1.5 cups Simple Syrup

Step 1: Zest and Juice

Using a potato peeler, remove the orange & lemon peel without the pith. Set aside. Cut the citrus in half and juice.

Step 2: Cook tonic

Put peel, juice, cranberries, cinchona bark, juniper berries, peppercorn and cardamom into a sauce pan. Add water. Get to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Infuse

Put everything from the pot into a glass sealable jar and add citric acid (optiona, see below). Put in fridge for 2 days.

Step 4: Strain and Sweeten

After two days, remove from fridge. Using a fine mesh colander or cheesecloth, strain out the botanicals and orange peel. Add the 1.5 cups of simple syrup (1:1 ratio).

Step 5: Serve & Store

To serve, add 1 ounce of Tonic syrup to 3 ounces of soda water. To make a great G&T, do 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce tonic syrup, 3 ounces soda water and garnish with orange peel and cranberries.

To store, if you used the citric acid, the tonic will be good in the fridge for three weeks. My favorite way to store is to freeze into ice cubes. This doesn't require the citric acid so you can remove that ingredient if you plan to freeze.

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