Overall success: Remains to be seen.
Level of difficulty: easy but a bit annoying.
The Jim score: as yet, untested
Dave was right when he said this was something I would definitely NOT attempt had it not been for the challenge. And as January is a no-alcohol month, it is also something I am loathed to try without gin. Be sure that when it comes to February the fruits of this labour will be tried and tested and I will report on findings. But for now, here’s how it went…
Using Dave’s recipe (he kindly turned up at the office with the more difficult to come by ingredients citric acid and cinchona), I set this up very quickly as the first part of the process is very simple indeed. It involves taking all the ingredients, mixing them together and leaving them in a container for a few days – mine ended up being left for about four nights.
3½ cups water
¼ cup powdered cinchona bark
¼ cup citric acid
3 limes, zest only
3 lemons, zest only
2 oranges, zest only
3 stalks lemongrass, chopped
4 whole allspice berries
3 whole cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon Maldon sea salt
Ingredients waiting to be dealt with.
Dealt with ingredients.
Now we wait.
After waiting, it’s then time to drain the liquid of all the bits. First stage of this is to strain it through fine-ish cloth (since the paneer challenge I had cheese cloth, so I used that), in a colander into a large bowl.
This is a sickly vision but the smell is fragrant and spiced and delicious. At this stage DO NOT TRY IT. Jim accidentally did and said it was really foul because it’s so very bitter.
After the initial drain, it’s time to remove, or TRY to remove the finer particles. Well, this is where I got annoyed. Having gone out to buy paper coffee filters, I started draining it. It took FOREVER to go through the filter. I don’t mean half an hour, I mean maybe 50ml still hadn’t gone through after two hours. Whilst all this was going on, I made a sugar syrup: dissolve two cups of golden caster sugar in one cup of water. Although it looks as though there’s not enough water to dissolve all that sugar, it will. Just heat it on a low heat and stir it.
So on my first evening attempting to filter, I had managed to get about 200ml of the stuff done at which point I knocked over the funnel holding the filter in, into the filtered stuff, pouring the unfiltered stuff in. ARGH! At that point I gave up and went to bed. The next day, The Jim spent the day working from home, so every so often went to filter again. He confirmed that the filters were not letting anything through – not even after six hours and a lot of replacing of filters.
So, the next day I bought different filters and started again. It was a little quicker, but the mixture was no way as clear as Dave’s looks. That meant I continued to filter, and ultimately the liquid was filtered FOUR TIMES. No joke.
At that point I had decided that enough was enough. I mixed the filtered liquid with the sugar syrup and have funnelled the tonic ‘concentrate’ into two bottle where they sit, awaiting their moment in the gin. It had better be good.
Anyone need around 125 filters for a drip coffee machine?
I concede that the filtering is a pain. In the end, I left mine trickling through the filter overnight. I’m going to try another batch this weekend, and I’ll try grinding the cinchona a little less finely to see if that makes it easier to remove.
Slight cloudiness aside, your tonic looks good. Once you’ve diluted it into a drink, I doubt anybody would ever know that it hadn’t been perfectly clear. So, once your dry January is out of the way, be sure to hold a proper tasting and report back!