The FuncBot Cinchona Tonic is a throwback to the original tonics. Tonic has not always been a carbonated sugar water with quinine and citric acid.
Tonic water originates as a medicinal extraction of cinchona bark. Cinchona bark is native to the Andean forests, where it has long been used by the indigenous Quechua peoples for its anti-fever and muscle relaxant properties. In the colonial period, it was widely used to treat malaria, famously curing the son of King Louis XIV of France in 1680. Cinchona extracts and purified alkaloids thereof (predominantly quinine, but not exclusively) remained the only effective antimalarial treatment until the early twentieth century. Wine or spirit was typically used because the extraction was superior to water. Quinine is still used to treat drug-resistant malaria, as well as the tick-borne babesiosis, and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
Cinchona bark is very bitter, so other botanicals were typically added to balance the flavor. A sweetener could also be added to create a stable and palatable syrup that could easily be mixed into a beverage. This is the inspiration for the FuncBot Cinchona Elixir. The red cinchona bark is combined with 16 other botanicals selected not only for their flavor, but also for their contributions to stability, mouthfeel, color and emulsification. The extraction process requires multiple macerations of both alcohol and water over nearly a month, and requires the use of pharmaceutical-grade rotary evaporation under high vacuum to remove and recover the alcohol at low temperature. The concentrated extract is then filtered and combined with raw agave nectar and fresh lemon juice to create a 10x concentrate. The elixir contains no refined sugar or preservatives, and is stable for over a year after opening without refrigeration.
When mixed with carbonated water, the result is a sublimely complex beverage with the perfect balance of aroma, bitterness, acidity, mouthfeel and light sweetness. It foams and laces the glass like a stout and does not separate even if left to sit for an extended period of time. The recipe is designed to extract naturally occurring emulsifiers from the botanicals, allowing for the incorporation of compounds that are not water-soluble, such as flavorful terpenes. These emulsifiers also cleanse the palate of fats in a way typically only alcoholic beverages do. As such, the Cinchona Elixir is a great accompaniment to meals that would be paired with red wine or robust beer. It is also excellent when consumed as a hot beverage with water, added to coffee like an amaro or used in cocktail.
The FuncBot Cinchona Elixir is inspired by the original tonics, but it is not a recreation. It is a fusion of ethnobotany, gastronomy and bioscience, combining botanicals from around the world with modern production techniques. The result is an exquisite drinking experience that does not require alcohol.
Each bottle (750ml)
Eyal, S. (2018). The Fever Tree: from Malaria to Neurological Diseases. Toxins, 10(12), E491. doi:10.3390/toxins10120491
Kacprzak, K. (2013). Chemistry and Biology of Cinchona Alkaloids. In R. K., & M. J.M. (Eds.), Natural Products. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-22144-6_22
Klein, W., & Pieters, T. (2016). The Hidden History of a Famous Drug: Tracing the Medical and Public Acculturation of Peruvian Bark in Early Modern Western Europe (c. 1650-1720). Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 71(4), 400-421. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrw004a