It is primarily used as a substitute for raw sugar and adds rich volume. As we are working with liquids and ice in cocktails, sugar syrups have the advantage of already being dissolved making it easy to mix in to cocktails much faster and smoother than using granulated sugar.
It is also far more economical to make your own sugar syrup than buying it pre-made, so here’s how to make your own:
We opt for a 2:1 sugar:water ratio to make a thicker syrup, that will require less volume in your drink and last longer on the shelf. Our TASTE cocktails sugar syrup is measured by volume, so for every 100g of sugar, you need 50g of water (bottled spring water is best but tap water does a fine job. You could also filter the tap water first for a good middle ground.)
You will need:
- Caster or granulated sugar (or experiment with brown or demerara for a different flavour)
- A saucepan
- A hob
- A ladle or funnel, and bottles to pour it into.
White caster sugar is normally used but its worth considering using a darker sugar if its going to be used with dark spirits such as in an Old Fashioned. Demerara syrup can work wonders with rums.
So here’s how its done:
1. Pour one cup of water in to a clean saucepan
2. Add one cup of caster sugar in to the water and put over a low heat
3. Gently stir the sugar and water until most of the sugar has dissolved (the liquid will look mostly clear)
4. Now add the second cup in to the saucepan stirring as you pour it in. Keep going until no granules of sugar are left visible.
5. Heating aids the dissolving of the sugar but be careful not to put the temperature too high – do not let the water boil or even simmer.
6. Optionally, add a small splash of flavourless vodka – this will help preserve the syrup for longer.
7. Once all the sugar has dissolved, allow the syrup to cool completely (leave a lid on the pan so no flies get in!) then pour into bottles.
If kept in the refrigerator the syrup should keep for up to six months, although it’s fine to leave out. You’ll realise that 1 cup of water and 2 cups of sugar don’t produce three cups of syrup..more likely 1.5 cups!
To make a flavoured syrup, start with the same bases of sugar and water (either 1:1 or 2:1 ratio) then add a flavouring element while the sugar and water are warming. When the syrup is flavoured enough for your taste, remove from heat and strain into the bottle.
When deciding what flavors to add, a number of possibilities present themselves. Fruit, for one, is an obvious choice. Citrus zest is a great addition to a simple syrup, and a citrusy syrup is quite versatile, enhancing cocktails made from just about any base spirit.
Berry-flavored syrups are delicious, and are especially good in non-alcoholic cocktails. Herbed syrups also spring quickly to mind. A basil infused syrup or mint syrup is handy to have on hand, for example, when you want a minty cocktail but don’t want to deal with muddling mint into each drink…Mojitos spring to mind! We have an article coming soon on how to make your own blackberry liqueur, using simple syrup.
The list is endless but Ginger syrup is one of my favourites and is great with rum. Finely chop the ginger and infuse with the sugar syrup until all the sugar has dissolved, once cooled strain the syrup in to a sterile bottle.
Do you make your own sugar syrup, or have any suggestions for excellent infusions? Let us know in the comments below.