Gin and Tonic

My dear readers, Facebook followers, friends and family know that I have a pretty tight relationship with my gins and tonics, especially through the summer months. They have refreshed me for years, but not once in those years have I ventured far from my usual Schwepps Tonic.

Then one day David Lebovitz appeared in my Facebook feed with this intriguing article, Homemade Tonic Water. Now, although my blog title is Walsh Cooks, it should be subtitled Walsh Likes to Delegate Cooking to Others. So I think to myself, “Who will actually do this?”, and without much hesitation my brain offers me Edmonton foodie Keith Perron’s name. I shared the article with Keith via Facebook, and asked if he ever tried making his own tonic. Keith you see, has one of those adventurous souls who will try anything in the kitchen.

Happily, within a day or so of sharing Lebovitz’s article with Keith, I was tagged in this post:

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 3.22.27 PM

Within a few weeks of this, the following pictures appeared in his Google account:

Tonic Goods
Photo: Keith Perron
Cardamon Star Anise
Photo: Keith Perron
Photo: Keith Perron
Bark Stuff
Photo: Keith Perron
Lemon Grass
Photo: Keith Perron
Photo: Keith Perron
In Hot Water
Photo: Keith Perron

For the list of ingredients and the method, I ask that you check out David Lebovitz’s article, Homemade Tonic Water so credit can be given where credit is due.

Keith and I arranged for a Tonic Tasting Day. In addition to the homemade tonic Keith provided, we also had the “control” my loyal Schwepps, as well as a fancy commercial tonic called Fever-Tree Premium Tonic Water. The bottle of club soda was on hand to dilute the homemade tonic.

Here, you can see that Keith created two different tonics. One had  lavender undertones, the other spicy with the star anise and cardamon.


Our first G & T was made with the lavender based tonic. It did not resemble tonic water as I know it, at all. But if not comparing this delicacy to a two litre bottle of Schwepps, on its own it is a beautiful accompaniment to gin. The flowery lavender gives it a delicateness which offset the sweetness of simple syrup. It definitely needed to be diluted with soda, which also provided the necessary fizzy to the drink.

The second G & T of the afternoon was the spicy tonic version. Again the soda is a requirement to give it the necessary fizz and dilution, and it was a level 12 on the 10 level flavour scale.

The third G & T sampled the commercial Fever-Tree. It was like crawling into bed after being away from home for a few days. It was comfortable and felt like home. Closest to Schwepps, but a little more upscale. Upscale in that it costs more, and is delivered in tiny, single serve glass bottles. I did not notice a huge flavour difference from my traditional tonic, but it was an enormous difference from the flavourful homemade tonic Keith made.

The fourth G & T was our “control” G & T, and truth is, we never got to it. Three G & Ts in short succession was enough. Scientists we are not.

Am I a convert? No. My regular old G & T’s will do just fine.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of trying homemade tonic.  I send my grateful thanks to Keith for taking on this challenge, and David Lebovitz for posting his experience and inspiration. It made for a fun afternoon.

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