Friday, March 28, 2014

Bitter Lemon at Home

So how happy was I when I ran across Seattle's own Tonic syrup/concentrate - and it turned out to be startlingly good?

Not as happy as I was a few seconds later when I realized, at last, I had, in my hands the missing ingredient for Bitter Lemon.  Why yes, thank you Bradley's Kina Tonic.  This is for you.

Bitter Lemon is a soft drink/mixer mainly available in the UK, and other ex-Empire outposts.

This is the form I first encountered:
Wee little cans on the plane or in the
International Lounge at Heathrow

I was hooked.  I'll drink the stuff straight - and as a buddy to gin, Well!
It needs to be the right gin though.  It will help your run-of-the-mill gin turn decent, and can have fun playing with a citrus leaning gin, making something special.

But the only form of Bitter Lemon I've gotten my hands on in the states (well, in my state, WA, anyway) is the Fever Tree brand.  

Which is actually quite good.  And a bit pricey.  And more than a bit of a pain to get my hands on.  

The mission was to use my newly acquired spoils to create a bitter lemon I could make at home.  And not have to freshly grind and brew precious elixirs all the time to do it.  Might as well run out and get some Fever Tree in that case.
(There are some "house made bitter lemon" recipes out there, but they depend on the bitterness of the pith - which is altogether different than what Quinine brings.)

What to make at home:

Fortified Lemon Juice
Simple Syrup
(Recipes Below - and don't worry... they keep for quite a long while)

What to buy:
Tonic concentrate (Bradley's Kina Tonic - or your local)
Sparkling Water
Good Gin - go with a citrus forward one to play nicely with this.

(Sound Spirits' Ebb & Flo bright citrus forward gin is my hands down favorite for this application.
Wishkah River Bulfinch 83 Gin - with it's almost oily citrus presence would be a good bet too.)

I won't bore you with the details - but there was trial and error involved.  
Let's just say - I have a large number of plastic tablespoons to play with.
This is handy since 1 Tbs = 0.5 oz

Fortified Lemon Juice
4 Lemons
Vegetable Peeler or a small Sharp Knife

Citrus Juicer/Reamer
Storage Container (tight sealing)

Carefully peel the yellow (zest) part of the peel from 2 of the lemons.  Place this in your container.
Juice the 4 lemons and add this to your peel.

Store until needed.

Simple Syrup
1C Sugar
1C Water
(actually just 1:1 sugar/water is what you need.  1C is a handy amount, some for now, some for later.  But you can make any amount you want to.)

Measuring cup
Sauce pan
Storage Container (tight sealing)

Heat the measured sugar and water until it dissolves and then boils for 2 minutes.  (Sanitizing measure - for storage.)

Combine these to make Lemon Syrup in a 2:1 ratio
2 parts Fortified Lemon Juice : 1 part Simple Syrup
This also keeps in the fridge a nice long time!

The Bitter Lemon - 1 serving

1 oz Lemon Syrup (2Tbs)
.5 oz Tonic Syrup  (1Tbs)
2.5 - 3 oz soda water (to taste)

While Gin & Bitter Lemon is a nice alternative/friend to Gin & Tonic, this takes things a step further.
Some kids who don't like super sweet stuff will enjoy this a s a special treat.  (e.g. my son)

Oranges & Lemons

1 serving The Bitter Lemon
1.5 oz Gin (citrus-y is best!)
0.5 oz Cointreau

Pour over ice - no garnish needed.  A lemon twist if you must.

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