Bitter Lemon Soda

Bitter Lemon Soda is a popular soda in many parts of the world. In Canada, it is virtually unknown. Bitter lemon is a quinine and lemon flavored soda. The quinine adds a little bitterness to a sweet-tart soda. It is most often used in a Pimm’s Cup.

How to Make Bitter Lemon

This recipe is relatively simple. You will start by simmering lemon zest, lavender, and cinchona bark in water. Then you add lemon juice to the mix and sweeten with a rich simple syrup.

You will end up with a bitter lemon syrup. You can add water to this and force carbonate it if you wish. If you are ambitious you can try fermenting it with champagne yeast. It is easiest to simply add soda water.


Bitter Lemon Syrup


  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup 1 ounce chopped cinchona bark
  • 3 lemons juice and peeled zests
  • 1 tablespoon lavender

Rich Simple Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water


  1. Combine 3 1/2 cups water, cinchona bark, lemon zest, and lavender in a saucepan.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  4. Allow lemon juice and allow mixture to cool.

Make a rich simple syrup:

  1. Simmer 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water over medium heat until completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool and refrigerate.

When the liquids have cool, strain the cinchona and lemon mixture through a fine strainer and discard solids.

  1. Strain tonic a second time with fine cheesecloth.
  2. Whisk lemon mixture and syrup together until well mixed.
  3. Funnel tonic syrup into storage bottles and keep refrigerated.
  4. To use: Add 1/2 ounce of tonic syrup to 2 ounces of sparkling water.

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