Before there was high quality tonic with low sugar, we bought Cinchona bark, which is the source of quinine – the medicine that treats malaria and is the active ingredient of tonic.
In April of 2015, I found ground cinchona power at Rebecca’s – a natural pharmacy in Boulder. Lime juice and gin were poured over the powder, and then filtered through a coffee filter to remove the powder. Added some water, or mostly soda water to get all the gin, lime and the extracted quinine out of the mixture and none of the powder. Steuart added another jigger of gin to the tonic and gin mixture, ice and a citrus wedge. Then he topped up the glass with soda water.
Later, we were able to find bark and a small quantity can be boiled to get a tonic tasting liquid, and unlike our first effort, we can add some sugar to the boil – instead of having to make a simple syrup and then intentionally adding sugar to the drink.