How To Make Delicious Homemade Tonic Syrup

WARNING: This recipe will rob you of your ability to enjoy store-bought tonic water. That said, the syrup makes a really creative holiday gift.

Graphic by Chris Ritter / Photos by Macey Foronda

2. Homemade Tonic Syrup

Adapted from the New York Times.

Makes 4–5 cups, enough to fill 4, 8.5-ounce swing bottles (pictured here)

4 tablespoons cinchona bark flakes
1 cup (about 5 stalks) sliced lemongrass
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Zest and juice of 1 large grapefruit
24 juniper berries
4 teaspoons citric acid
3 cups granulated sugar

Special equipment
Fine mesh strainer
4, 8.5-ounce swing bottles
Small funnel


In a medium saucepan, combine cinchona bark, lemongrass, citrus zest, citrus juice, and juniper berries with 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and let the mixture simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Line a mesh strainer or colander with cheesecloth, and set it over a large heatproof bowl. Pour the hot liquid through the cheesecloth into the bowl.

Return the strained liquid to a medium saucepan over medium heat and add citric acid and granulated sugar. Let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Let the syrup cool slightly, then use a small funnel to transfer into 4 gift bottles. When syrup has cooled to room temperature, put the tops on the bottles. Syrup will keep for a few months in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

3. Get decorating info here.

Macey Foronda

5. Directions to include with the gift.

How To Use Tonic Syrup
In a highball glass over ice, combine ¾ oz tonic syrup with 1 ½ oz vodka or gin. Top with 3 oz seltzer.

6. Download a PDF of directions to include with gift:

Click here.

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