A religious experience

I went yurt camping with a bunch of friends over the weekend at the Oregon coast and had an absolutely wonderful time. We ate, we drank, we hiked, and then we ate and drank some more. It was divine.

What is also divine? Homemade tonic for gin & tonics. I made my first batch of homemade tonic over the summer because I was tired of drinking tasteless store-bought tonic containing high fructose corn syrup to boot. After sampling HFCS-free tonic that cost almost as much as the gin, I figured that I could do better. Thanks to Google and my new BFF Jeffrey Morgenthaler, I pulled it off. I asked my mother-in-law for a soda siphon for my birthday and she totally delivered, with one of these babies.

Here’s the recipe:
4 cups water
1 cup chopped lemongrass (roughly one large stalk)
¼ cup powdered cinchona bark
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tsp whole allspice berries
¼ cup citric acid
¼ tsp Kosher salt

Note: It’s not easy to find everything, but Portlandites can find everything at Limbo, on SE 39th and Holgate.

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain out solids using a strainer or chinois. You’ll need to fine-strain the mixture, as it still contains quite a bit of the cinchona bark. You can use a coffee filter and wait for an hour or more, or do as I do and run the whole mixture through a French coffee press.

Once you’re satisfied with the clarity of your mix, heat it back up on the stovetop or microwave, and then add ¾ cup of agave syrup to each cup of your hot mix. Stir until combined, and store in the attractive bottle of your choice.

And when you serve it to your friends while yurt camping, they will tell you that it’s a religious experience. It’s that good.


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