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quinine-based bitter

Several kinds are made around Italy, including China Martini and the China Massagli of Lucca, and the Elisir di China still made by the Dominicans in Florence's Santa Maria Novella.

The name is derived from the main ingredient—the bark of Cinchona tree, or quinine, brought back to malaria-plagued Rome from the Andes by the Jesuits (hence its old name, 'Jesuit bark'), who had observed how the Quechua people of Peru would use it to stop shivering in the cold temperatures of the Andes. Its bitter taste was alleviated by the Quechua by mixing it with sweetened water—hence tonic water.


Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by malt city