The easy-peasy way to punch up your cocktails
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Ahh...the humble syrup. It’s just a filler ingredient to sweeten up your drink, right?
No way! Syrups are a powerful tool in your home bar kit that can amplify the flavors and textures in your drinks. Many home cocktail enthusiasts overlook syrups because such small amounts are used - typically 1/4 to 1/2 ounce per drink. But, a little goes a long way to introduce new flavors, big or small, into the flavor story of your cocktail.
The basic simple syrup is:
1 part sugar to 1 part water
(It’s a great idea to keep a bottle of it in your fridge to have on hand when the urge strikes to make a cocktail!)
To make it:
Heat water in a small saucepan to just under boiling. Add the sugar, and stir it until completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool completely before use. If you have a bottle of vodka around, add a splash (around a tablespoon for a 1 cup sugar / 1 cup water mixture) to help preserve it and prevent mold growth. It should keep in your fridge for a few months.
Once you’ve mastered simple syrup, it’s time to get crazy! 😜 There are many variations you will see popping up in cocktail recipes:
Rich syrup - 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Rich syrup is used in cocktails where amplified sweetness is called for, but with less dilution, since it’s double the amount of sugar in the same amount of water. It also lends a thicker, silkier texture to the drink.
Demerara/turbinado/raw cane sugar - you can get fancy with the type of sugar used. These have additional flavors - such as caramel, molasses, toffee, and “earthiness” - due to their limited processing and refinement. Typically used in tiki drinks for extra depth of flavor, you can also substitute one of these syrups into your favorite cocktail and experiment with how it changes the taste and texture.
Honey syrup - this brings you all the beautiful floral flavors of honey but without the stickiness! Making it into a syrup allows you to easily incorporate this beautiful natural sweetener into your drink. Play around with the honey-to-water ratios: 1:1, 2:1, 3:1 - depending on how much potent honey flavor you’re after.
Maple syrup - no “cooking” necessary! Use as-is in a cocktail to add some of yummy maple vibes. We especially love it in rye-based cocktails.
Infused syrups - oh boy, this is where it really gets fun! Add herbs, fruit, vegetables, tea...the sky’s the limit! Based on the pungency of your addition (e.g., basil = lots of strong flavor vs. strawberry = more low key), adjust your infusion times. Herbs and teas may only need 15-20 minutes of steeping time, while fruits you can let go for a day or two. It’s a cheap, easy, and fun way to experiment with adding new flavors into your drinks. You can make tiny batches (1-2 oz.) if you don’t want to go all-in on your experimental flavors. Raid the fridge and pantry and get creative!
Mix it up with your syrups this week and let us know how it goes! Any flavors that knocked your socks off?!