Cinchona Bark and how to make tonic water

Gin with homemade tonic water

Encyclopedia says Tonic Water a.k.a. Quinine Water is a carbonated soft drink with quinine flavoring and high-fructose corn syrup.

Not any more baby!

Cinchona bark tonic water is for people that are tired of the boring Gin & Tonic. No artificial chemicals or flavors here just the real herbs, spices, and fruits.  We sell Cinchona Bark from Cinchona officinalis which is the bark used for medical purposes and is the same plant used to treat Malaria.

Cinchona Bark to make Tonic Water

Add cinchona bark, herbs and spices to the water and boil for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Take the pan off the stove, cover and let steep for an hour. After steeping, very carefully remove the lid and without stirring, pour through a strainer and then a coffee filter slowly. This may take several coffee filters to complete. When the filtration is complete, warm the liquid up then add the citric acid and syrup. The longer you boil the herbs the easier it is to burn them therefor I suggest that you do a slow gentle boil for 10 minutes and then steep them for an hour.

4 cups water
¼ cup cinchona bark powder (or ½ cup cinchona bark cut)
1 tsp whole allspice berries
¼ cup citric acid
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups of agave syrup

Combine water, bark, and berries in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain out solids using a strainer. You’ll need to fine-strain the mixture, as it still contains quite a bit of the cinchona bark. Use a coffee filter, it may take 2 or 3.

Once you’re satisfied with the clarity of your mix, heat it back up on the stovetop (never microwave), and then add citric acid, salt, and agave syrup to each cup of your hot mix. Stir until combined, and store in the attractive bottle of your choice.

To assemble a gin and tonic, use ¾ ounce of your tonic syrup, 1½ ounces of gin and 2 ounces of soda water over ice.

Options to adjust flavor profile.

  • 1/4 cup lemongrass.
  • 1 tbs Allspice Powder.
  • Cardamon Powder.
  • Cloves Powder.
  • Juniper Berry.
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick.
  • zest and juice of 1 orange.
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon.
  • zest and juice of 1 lime.


Update 02-09-2016: Many ask “How do others filter the Cinchona out”

From all my customers that I have talked with I find there is no “best” way to filter but here is what some are doing.
  • Leave the Cinchona powder in the tonic. It adds body.
  • Use Cinchona Bark Cut then a kitchen sieve.
  • Use Cinchona Bark Powder, boil it than let it steep for an hour or longer. Vary carefully, without string, pour through a coffee filter, when the first filter clogs try another, then pitch the balance.
  • Filter with cheese cloth or a course muslin in place of the finer coffee filter.
  • I find the cheaper “store brand” or Always Save coffee filters work better for this than Mr. Coffee filters.

Update 03-07-17: Nancy asked:

Thank you for the recipes and information! I have made two versions of tonic, and I enjoy them very much. I have been storing them in the fridge, but have very limited space, so I wonder if I need to? Perhaps with the citric acid they are shelf-stable?

Our response:  Thank you for your business and thank you for this question, proper food storage is always very important. One way I like is to “cold pack” it. This is kind of like canning but without the high pressure canner. To cold pack you want to dip your jars and caps into boiling water, the same for the funnel and a measuring cup or whatever you use to transfer the tonic syrup. The filtered tonic syrup should be brought up to a boil before transferring to the sterilized bottles. Cap the bottles and let set on the counter till they cool down to room temperature then tighten the caps again.

Another way to store tonic syrup is to mix it 50:50 with the alcohol of your choice. I hope this helps.


Cinchona Bark Tonic Water Flavors

Make your own natural tonic water using Cinchona Bark for the flavor and Argave Nector for the sweetener. You can also add Juniper Berries, Orange Peel, Lemongrass, Cinnamon, Cardamon, Cloves to suit your own taste. Jeffrey has a great recipe at: other recipes may be found on the web. Send us your favorite and we will post it and give you credit for it.

Herbal Advantage sells Citric Acid, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Ginger, Orange peel, Lemon Grass, and many other herbs and spices that will make wonderful flavored drinks. Please keep in mind that the more herbs and spices used the more color you will have in the final liquid. Some believe that color and bitterness are related but they are not. The color particle is usually the larger size particle and easier to filter out. Run the liquid through a fine strainer or French Press then through a paper coffee filter. The bitterness is from the Cinchona and may be reduced by using less of it.

All of the products on this site are also available at in larger quantities. Herbal Advantage offers a 10% discount on each herb when 5 pounds or more are ordered.

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Glass of Gin and Tonic made with Cinchona Bark