I love gin, I adore botanicals, I like tonic. So I decided to infuse my own gin, and while I was at it, make my own tonic. You can make your own botanical combinations, add herbs, spices, plants or flowers and let the magic happen. My gin was rather strong and citrussy with nice hints of pepper. I used yacon syrup as a sweetener for my tonic and I added fresh lemon juice and grapefruit juice instead of the processed citric acid you will find in most tonic recipes. Yacon syrup is said to have weight loss effects and improve intestinal health. It has a very low glycemic index of 1 to 5, which is great!
For those who don’t know a lot about the glycemic index; it is a ranking on a scale from 0 to 100 telling us which carbohydrates will raise blood sugar levels after eating. If you eat something with a high GI (like white bread or refined sugar), the carbohydrates will be converted to glucose rapidly, which will raise your blood sugar. As a reaction to this your brain will send a message to the pancreas to secrete more insulin. Insulin will lower your blood sugar again, by converting the excess sugar to stored fat. The greater your increase in blood sugar levels, the more insulin will be released, which can cause a blood sugar that is too low which will make you lethargic and hungry. So, to keep things short, it is best to maintain a stable blood sugar. Choosing food with a low glycemic index can help you with this.

I can always find a good reason to drink gin & tonics, but this tonic will give you the excuse to keep your blood sugar low. In moderation, you know. By the way, your gin will not be transparent, like store bought, destilled gin. The same goes for your tonic syrup. But no worries, you will just create a nice orangy sunset gin, like summer in a glass.

© Neri De Meester




700 ml grain alcohol (like vodka)

2 tbsp juniper berries

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 tsp whole allspice

1/4 tsp pink pepper berries

1/4 tsp szechuan peppecorns

3/4 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 tsp dried lavender

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

4 cardamom pods

2 black peppercorns

2 Indian long peppers

1 small piece of dried grapefruit peel

1 small piece of dried bergamot peel

1 small piece of dried orange peel


Put all of the spices in a mortar and ground until you have a course mixture. You should smell the lovely aroma’s. Take a sealable jar and pour in the ground spices and the dried peels. Pour over the alcohol. Let it sit for 24 to 48 h in a dark, room-temperature spot and shake it once a day. Finally, strain the liquid through a fine mesh cloth, leaving out all the solids.    



2 c water

30 g quinchona bark, ground

4 stalks of lemongrass, chopped zest and juice from 4 lemons

zest and juice from 2 grapefruit

1/2 tsp piment berries

1 c yacon syrup


Bring water and cinchona bark to a boil and let it simmer on low heat until all of the water has evaporated. Mix the quinchona residu, lemongrass, zests and juices and let it sit in the fridge for 24h. Strain your infusion through a fine mesh cloth and add it to the yaconsyrup. Store in a glass jar.



30 ml tonic syrup

180 ml sparkling water

60 ml gin wedge of lemon

some pink peppercorns



Combine in a nice glass and enjoy. Like really really enjoy.   


Orly Cogan - Nature's Secret

Orly Cogan – Nature’s Secret

Orly Cogan - Wild Poppies

Orly Cogan – Wild Poppies

Now these botanicals made me think about the work of Orly Cogan. She works in different art mediums like textiles, drawing, installations and photography. Her embroidery works show people, flowers, plants and animals on old vintage textiles. “My work is an irreverent take on the conventions of femininity: I stitch figures on dainty vintage fabrics. These found linens, which at one time—in a more modest age—served as table runners, bureau scarves and tablecloths, had already been embroidered by an earlier and more circumscribed generation of women.” A lot of subjects are incorporated in her work; history, tradition, mythology, fairy tales, nature, humor, irony, and intimacy. “The fabric becomes the foundation for a fantastical, exotic dialogue between the old and the new.” “I am drawn to dichotomies such as soft and tough, fantasy and reality, especially as they relate to gender.” I love her work because it is so layered and rich in meanings and visuality. She mixes old values and new ideas, she adds some fantasy, femininity, eroticism, history and humour and creates a lovely palette of stitched narratives. I feel that the fact that she uses embroidery and textiles to tell her stories, allows her to incorporate heavier themes in her creation of images that are intimate and loving, but also have a kind of oddity hanging around it. 

Next to the work of Cogan, I want to end wit this image of Gabrielle d’Estrées and one of her sisters, pinching her nipple. The painting dates from the 16th century and reminds of the style of the second school of Fontainbleau, but the painter remains anonymous. Today, it can be seen in the Louvre in Paris. I adore this painting for its mystery and delicacy. Up till now, no one knows why Gabrielle is showing us her ring or why her sister is pinching her right breast. Some people think it symbolizes her pregnancy with her illegimate son of Henry IV. The strangeness and intimacy of the two women, the framing of the painting and the sewing lady in the back all evoke questions, but also show a kind familiarity, which makes me smile.

Gabrielle d'Estrées and one of her sisters

Gabrielle d’Estrées and one of her sisters


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