Photo courtesy of Science World.

How to Infuse Your Own Botanical Tonic Water

Bespoke and house-made ingredients have become a staple in craft cocktail bars. Playing around with botanicals can be fun, but not all traditional cocktail ingredients are good for you. Take quinine, a substance derived from cinchona bark and used to add bitterness to the tonic in your G&T. Quinine-infused tonic was once used to ward off malaria, but too much quinine can make you sick. That’s why bartenders like the Vancouver Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Chris Enns are experimenting with different botanical ingredients to deliver the same bitter kick in their gin drinks. He explains:

What we’ve done is take a careful look at what tonic water is and then deconstructed it to pair perfectly with Tanqueray no. Ten. The classic ingredient in tonic, cinchona, may sometimes contain unsafe quantities of quinine, but with the help of modern botany, hundreds of plants are available and possibilities are endless.

Tonic water is a mixture of sugar, acids, flavours and carbonated water. All we needed was a ratio of sugar to acid to replicate the perfect balance of sweet with a hint of tart. The flavours you might wish to add are limitless. Think about what fruits and spices pair well with your favourite gin, or a dish you are wanting to pair with. We used Angelica archangelica (angelica), Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit) and garnished with Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), creating a safe and complementary tonic water to pair with Tanqueray no. Ten.

The different acids in the tonic can be purchased on Amazon, and each serves a different role. Citric acid makes us think of lemons or limes, malic acid of green apples, and tartaric of grapes. Each offers a different intensity and longevity. Salt will not add a salty taste, but it will enhance all the other flavours playing together. Try sticking with two to four fruits and spices as flavourings, but experiment. You can also look at varieties of tea that can add bitter and floral notes—Earl Grey for example.

Chris Enns

Photo courtesy of Fairmont Pacific Rim.

Take Me Down to the Paradisi-ty

Tonic Syrup

500g caster sugar

500g filtered water

10g citric acid

10g malic acid

10g tartaric acid

5g Maldonado sea salt

2-4 fruits or spices as flavouring ingredients


Add your selection of fruits, spices and teas to the base tonic syrup in a double-boiler to gently warm the mixture for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Filter the botanicals, bottle the syrup, and refrigerate.



1 part Tanqueray no. Ten

1 part Tonic Syrup

3 part Soda Water

1 dash Bittered Sling Grapefruit & Hops Bitters

Glass: Highball glass

Garnish: Fresh rosemary sprig



Combine Tanqueray no. Ten with tonic syrup, soda and bitters in a highball glass filled with ice.

Gently stir and garnish with rosemary sprig.


Chris Enns will be sampling his bespoke syrups at the Science of Cocktails event at Science World on February 6. Read more in our cocktail science series here. 

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Post Date:

February 5, 2020