Following a number of requests for Bitter Lemon recipes, I decided to have a go at making one myself.
So what is Bitter Lemon? Essentially, it is tonic water with an added element of lemon; often this comes from the juice, but it could come from the zest or the pith/peel. In addition, sugar is often added to stop the lemon from making the drink too tart. So there is a difference between tonic water with a twist of lemon and bitter lemon.
The world’s biggest name in Bitter Lemon is Schweppes who, already famous for their tonic water, released their variety, which they claim was the first commercial one, in 1957. Another increasingly well-known name in the market is Fevertree’s Lemon Tonic, which is essentially Bitter Lemon, but uses its name as a more accurate description of what it is.
On with the recipe:
Juice & zest of 4 medium lemons (or 3 large)
Pith of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp of Chili Powder
1 tsp Cinchona Bark
4 tsp Citric Acid
300ml Granulated Sugar*
100ml of Water
Add all the ingredients to a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Leave to cool, strain through a sieve, then coffee filter and bottle.
Mix one part of your newly made Bitter Lemon Syrup to two parts soda water, and serve with ice. For an extra treat, add an ounce of your favourite gin. I like mine with Foxdenton’s. And of course who could resist mixing it with a spot of Sloe Gin in a Long Peddler?
* For a less messy method do not add the sugar to the pan:
Add zest/juice/pith, chilli powder, chichona bark, water
Bring to the boil, simmer
Stain the mixture through a clean tea towel in to a bowl
Stir in the sugar whilst the mixture is still hot
Cool, Bottle, Refrigerate