Make your own evocative Mediterranean tonic water

The Alps

The Alps great spot of foraging

There are places that you visit that can vividly paint themselves into your consciousness; weaving into daily life as a semi-subconscious backdrop to the daily mundanity of life. These special places, you have only experienced for a moment and yet you can always visit them, always imagine yourself back in their loving embrace. Be it the moment you dipped your toes into a most welcome rock pool after your feet were burnt on the sand from a distant tropical beach. Or, in my case, the moment I walked along a mountain path high up in the Alps, a gentle breeze carrying the distant tin bell ringing from a herd of alpine goats. Just me and my Emma on top of the world. The smells of thyme, lavender and rosemary entering the air with each step as we walked.

This most evocative of moments is one that plays on a loop in the back of my mind, not so much my, “happy place”, as my reminder that to have moments like these and, be able to appreciate them, means that I am a very rich man. What’s more, I realised that I could sit back and drink this moment. I could capture the essence in a glass and let my mind revisit it, it was that moment when the recipe for this Mediteraianin tonic water was born. Coupled with some homemade foraged gin, you can combine all the moments that make life a rich one.

The original tonic recipe that I used can be found here in something I wrote for the Guardian a while back. Once I’d made it a few times it was time to tweak it to something I enjoyed further, Mediterranean tonic water! When creating a new recipe it is good to sit back and work out what flavours work together well. This is the same for cooking as it is for drinks making. Much of the time groups will work well, warming spices live cloves, nutmeg and allspice for example or in this case, rosemary, lavender and thyme as they are all Mediterranean herbs. But most of all, I go by instinct, I let my nose and my taste buds be my guide. I hope that you can too, a touch of experimentation and a few tweaks and you could be back on your favourite beach or high on a mountain path once more!

How to make Mediterranean tonic water

The video is one for how to make your own tonic water, it will give you the idea of how it’s done. Use the recipe below it as a guide and when adding herbs and spices use similar measurements. The only essential ingredient is the cinchona bark, the rest can be chopped and change to match your memory.

900ml water
350g sugar
Zest and juice of 2 limes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
25g Cinchona bark (Don’t use powdered)
28g citric acid
2 sticks of lemongrass
1 sprig Rosemary
3 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Lavender (with flowers)
2-4 cardamom pods
10 allspice berries
 
Soda water

Plus:

Accurate small scales
Large saucepan
Wooden spoon
Funnel
Small sieve
Muslin/cheesecloth
A bottle or two

Put all the ingredients except the soda water into your pan and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes. Stir to ensure the sugar has fully dissolved.

Allow to cool, then strain the syrup into bottles. It will keep in the fridge for about a month. If you want it to keep a little longer then you could add around 50ml vodka. Although, do try and remember your tonic syrup is alcoholic when working out how pissed (drunk) you want your friends to be or not to be!

When using, dilute at around 4:1 with soda water to make fizzy tonic water.

You can freeze your tonic as ice cubes and use in gin and soda water, making a gin and tonic that slowly becomes more tonic-y, and therefore more refreshing, as it warms. The cubes won’t fully freeze unless using a deep freeze freezer, they will be a little slushy.

Now your can make your own Mediterranean tonic water, I look forward to trying your New York Tonic water, or your Brockwell Park tonic, Willard Lake tonic water, Paris tonic water, ect…

Andy Hamilton

Brewer, forager, broadcaster, spaceman occasional liar

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