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Q Tonic With Quinine

One night in 2003, Silbert was drinking a gin and tonic in his Brooklyn backyard when his teeth started feeling sticky. He saw that the tonic’s “ingredients were identical to Sprite, with different natural and artificial flavors,” he says. Curious, he discovered that today’s tonics lack a key ingredient used in the original libation: quinine from Peruvian cinchona trees. It was replaced with a synthetic during World War II. Silbert ordered the bark for $10 online and found a recipe to extract the quinine. He added homemade seltzer and agave instead of sugar. He started making the tonic at parties, and his friends loved it.

Farmer's Gin
Q Tonic and Gin

On a lark, I bought a four pack of Q Tonic1 2 last fall, and it was delicious. As far as I know, only Whole Foods in Chicago carries the brand, but I’ll look. Will be good for spring gin and tonics on the roof…

One night in 2003, Silbert was drinking a gin and tonic in his Brooklyn backyard when his teeth started feeling sticky. He saw that the tonic’s “ingredients were identical to Sprite, with different natural and artificial flavors,” he says. Curious, he discovered that today’s tonics lack a key ingredient used in the original libation: quinine from Peruvian cinchona trees. It was replaced with a synthetic during World War II. Silbert ordered the bark for $10 online and found a recipe to extract the quinine. He added homemade seltzer and agave instead of sugar. He started making the tonic at parties, and his friends loved it.

Silbert started business school at Yale University in 2004 with plans to go into city development. He still tinkered with tonic, and a professor—an Honest Tea co-founder—encouraged him. Working on a business plan, Silbert realized he needed a bottling facility and found one in Worcester, Mass. Investors provided $3,000 for ingredients and bottles, and Q Tonic was born. Then he offered samples on foodie websites.

New York standard-bearer Gramercy Tavern was an early adopter, and farm-to-table trendsetter Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., signed on when Silbert ate there and brought Q Tonic with him. Downtown hot spot Bobo soon followed. “At first it was part of our competitive edge,” says Bobo owner Carlos Suarez. “Now I’d be surprised not to see it at a sophisticated cocktail bar in Manhattan.” Q Tonic has grown to six employees and is in more than 3,000 outlets, including Whole Foods Market (WFMI). Silbert calls it a start: “The goal is for every place serving Grey Goose or Tanqueray to have a good tonic to go with it.”

(click here to continue reading A Company Built on a Crisper Gin and Tonic – BusinessWeek.)

Also, totally agree with the premise of Q Tonic: tonic should have quinine, and not be sickly sweet.

Wikipedia:

Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic (fever-reducing), antimalarial, analgesic (painkilling), anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic. Quinine contains two major fused-ring systems: the aromatic quinoline and the bicyclic quinuclidine. Though it has been synthesized in the lab, the bark of the cinchona tree is the only known natural source of quinine. The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua Indians of Peru and Bolivia; later, the Jesuits were the first to bring the cinchona to Europe.

Quinine was the first effective treatment for malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, appearing in therapeutics in the 17th century. It remained the antimalarial drug of choice until the 1940s, when other drugs replaced it. Since then, many effective antimalarials have been introduced, although quinine is still used to treat the disease in certain critical situations.

Quinine is available with a prescription in the United States and over-the-counter, in very small quantities, in tonic water. Quinine is also used to treat lupus and arthritis. Until recently, quinine was also a common “off-label” treatment for nocturnal leg cramps. This practice is now considered dubious by the FDA

(click here to continue reading Quinine – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Footnotes:
  1. I thought I took a photo of a bottle of Q Tonic, but I guess not.  Maybe I took the photo and just didn’t post it to Flickr – that happens often []
  2. updated to add a photo of Q Tonic []

4 replies on “Q Tonic With Quinine”

Hi guys! Thanks for the kind words on Q. We like to post all of our customers (the ones we know about, at least!) on our website at http://www.qtonic.com . We are in Whole Foods, as well as a variety of local bars, restaurants, grocers, and liquor stores.

Enjoy the Q,

Molly

I guess I should have browsed the Q Tonic website before posting. Here’s where Q is currently available in Chicago:

Bars and Restaurants
Bacaro
Beviamo
Follia
L20 Restaurant
The Mid-America Club
The Violet Hour
W Chicago – Lakeshore
Other
Lava Lounge
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

Retail
Binny’s Beverage Depot
Fox & Obel Food Market
Hagen’s Fish Market
Lush Wine and Spirits – Roscoe Village
Lush Wine and Spirits – West Town
Open Produce
Provenance Food and Wine – Logan Square
Whole Foods (MW-GLD) Gold Coast Chicago
Whole Foods (MW-HLS) Halstead Chicago
Whole Foods (MW-LCP) Lincoln Park Chicago
Whole Foods (MW-LKV) Lakeview Chicago
Whole Foods (MW-SGN) Sauganash Chicago
Whole Foods (MW-SLP) South Loop Chicago

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