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by Lydia Clowney | lydia@revuewm.com


TONIC SYRUP RECIPE


In a saucepan, combine 1 C. water, 1 C. sugar (or substitute,) heaped ½ t. wormwood, 1 t. citric acid, and 1 chopped and bruised stalk of lemongrass. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.


Remove from heat and strain through a coffee- filter-lined sieve.


/// LIBATIONS HOW TO MAKE TONIC WATER T


ONIC IS A WONDER, so crisp and bracing it cuts through the fog of a thick summer day like the promise of a cool evening breeze. Its vaguely-medicinal provenance and flavor give it a palliative effect most welcome when justifying an early drink.


Whatever your poison, a long tonic drink is the perfect


antidote to the lethargy of a muggy, hot July. Sadly, many gin-or-whatever-and-tonics are badly abused by the noxious quality of commercial tonic waters. Far from complex, most of the standard supermarket offerings are achingly sweet and insipid, and rely heavily on flavors divorced from their origins. The elevation of the G&T is not too difficult, however, and can be one of the most impressive and useful tricks in the home drinker’s arsenal.


Tonic is a product of British imperialism, concocted to


help prevent malaria in colonial India. Quinine, the active ingredient, was one of the first successful anti-malarials, but it is extremely bitter. The Brits took to mixing their medicinal doses with gin to temper the unpleasantness of the medicine, and a classic summer cooler was born. Unfortunately, due to quinine’s efficacy as a muscle


relaxant, it can be hard to procure. Cinchona bark will release its steeped quinine, but must be ordered online. An acceptable substitute is wormwood, another potent substance, but one that is easily found at better homebrew stores like Siciliano’s Market on Lake Michigan Drive. Use whichever your conscience demands, and please remem- ber: if your gin and tonic contains less than a quarter of a lime, you’re doing it wrong. n


Refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for the whole summer. To drink, mix about 2 oz. syrup to 6 oz. water and 2 oz. of gin. Wipe the rim of the glass with lime wedge after squeezing.


This recipe makes a refreshingly herbal tonic. For a more biting, bitter tonic, increase the wormwood to a whole, heaping teaspoon. Lemongrass is a very tough stalk. Use kitchen shears to roughly “chop,” then bruise it to release more flavorful oils by beating it with a mortar and pestle (or, in a pinch, a carefully- handled empty wine bottle)


NEW HOLLAND BREWING COMPANY’S KNICKERBOCKER GIN


find gin’s juniper-heavy bouquet too intense or too difficult to mix. The latter problem has an easy fix – tonic is gin’s great match. The former can be more difficult, but only if you don’t know where to look. Not all gins are created equal, and luckily, you don’t have to look far to find New Holland Artisan Spirit’s superlative Knickerbocker Gin. NHAS, New Holland Brewery’s spirited kid sister, makes a


G 24 | REVUEWM.COM | JULY 2011


diverse range of liquors. Its award-winning Brewer’s Whisky series is breaking assumptions of what whisky can be, and Knickerbocker Gin is similarly game changing. While balanced by other herbs and


IN, SADLY, HAS fallen from favor. Once the belle of the cocktail circuit, it has been preempted by numerous other liquors, leaving gin to die-hard martini fans and prohibition-fetishizing dandies. Many modern drinkers


spices, like coriander, cassia and anise, London dry gins – the most common style – are extremely juniper-forward, giving a “piney” flavor and aroma, which can be overwhelming to non-gin drinkers. Distiller and chemist Dennis Downing’s objective was “to scale back the juniper enough so that the other 11 botanicals (12 total) can come forward.” The proportions are tweaked, and the gin has an unusually balanced, “citrus-forward” character. When tasted straight, the coriander shines next to the spiciness of the juniper and the subtler herb flavors are allowed to emerge. Paired with homemade tonic, a Knickerbocker G & T is a modern, artisinal and delicious take on a classic. n


Knickerbocker gin is available at Martha’s Vinyard and many area shops for $34.


SCHEDULE | DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS SCENE


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