How to Make Tonic Water (DIY homemade tonic water) -

How to Make Tonic Water

Homemade tonic water made from citrus, barks, herbs, spices, and simple syrup.
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Keyword easy tonic water, tonic water, tonic water drink
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 32 ounces
Calories 76kcal
Author Plating Pixels


Tonic Water concentrate

  • Zest from 3 limes
  • Zest from 3 lemons
  • Zest from one grapefruit
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cinchona bark
  • 1 teaspoon gentian root
  • 1 ½ tablespoons citric acid
  • cup chopped fresh lemongrass
  • Spices, herbs or flowers for extra flavor see recipe note
  • teaspoon salt

Simply syrup

  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

To make Gin and Tonic

  • Ice cubes
  • Gin
  • Club soda
  • Lime wedges as garnish


Tonic Water concentrate

  • Stir citrus zest and sugar together in a small bowl. Store covered overnight in the fridge for flavors to soak in.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine water, cinchona bark, gentian root, citric acid, lemongrass, and optional add-ins. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to a low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and stir in citrus infused sugar; allow to cool completely. Transfer to a sealed jar and store in fridge overnight. 
  • Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer into another jar or container. Discard all dry ingredients. Store sealed in fridge one or two more days to allow sediment to accumulate at the bottom.
  • Carefully pour off the clearer liquid into a larger container and discard sediment. Combine with simple syrup. 

To make simple syrup

  • Heat water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir often until melted. Remove from heat and cool completely. Stir in simple syrup. Use more or less to create desired sweetness (add about 2-3 cups of simple syrup).

To serve gin and tonics

  • In a cocktail glass filled halfway with ice, stir together 1-½ ounces tonic syrup with 1-½ ounces of gin. Lightly stir in 3 ounces of chilled club soda and serve garnished with a lime wedge.


  • While zesting all the citrus takes some time, it's critical for flavor. Do not substitute with citrus juice as it will be too tart and the flavors will not be correct.
  • Flavor add-ins: Try adding 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of some of the following items: lavender buds, star anise, juniper berries, allspice berries, or cardamom.
  • Store tonic water in the fridge up to a month or freeze part of it for later use.
  • You can use store-bought simple syrup if you prefer.
  • This recipe makes 2 pints (32 ounces) of tonic water and goes a long way. You'll be adding gin and club soda while serving.
  • When serving, use the desired amount of tonic water, gin and club soda to reach preferred flavor and cocktail strength. I've provided a recommendation, but this can be adjusted.


Serving: 1.5ounces | Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 10mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg