Bar Basics – Simple Syrup

Some cocktails require a variety of hard to find, and impossible to make ingredients, but many require “Simple Syrup” a basic building block to a solid cocktail that you can make at home. In addition to being used for cocktails, simple syrup can be used in baking, desserts, and more.

The simplest of simple syrups is the 1:1 ratio. Literally one part sugar and one part water.

Start by bringing 1/2 to 1 full cup of water to a boil, and slowly add the same amount of white granulated sugar, stirring constantly then remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer into a glass jar or bottle, then refrigerate. It’s worth noting that simple syrup can “go bad” and shouldn’t be stored longer than about a month, plan and make your batch accordingly.

The possible variations are too numerous to list at length, but some places to start are with changes to the ratio, and flavor infusions.

Try making a 2:1 syrup (two parts sugar, one part water) or using different types of sugar, like brown sugar for a more earthy molasses flavor. If you want to get creative here are some flavors infusions that are easy to add and open up a variety of options for fancy cocktails.

  • Spices: Add Cinnamon Sticks, Whole Nutmeg, Cloves, Star Anise, or Vanilla Beans, to the pot of syrup mix and simmer 3-5 minutes over low heat, Turn off the heat, and let sit 4-6 hours. Then remove the spices, strain any remnant bits (try a coffee filter) bottle, and refrigerate.
  • Herbs: Springs of Mint, Lavender, Rosemary, or Basil all make tasty additions to simple syrup. Add a small handful of the fresh herbs to the hot syrup, steep for about 30 minutes, then strain and store.
  • Fruit: For Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Grapefruit, slice and leave peels on, add to boiling syrup, and boil over medium to high heat for 3-5 minutes, Strain and store, adding twists of the peel for look and flavor if desired. For fruits like Apple, Peach, Cherry, Berries, or Pineapple add the fruit as the syrup is cooling, boiling the fruit can result in mushy fruit and overly starchy syrup.
  • Ginger syrup: Cut thin slices from a 3-inch piece of ginger root and add to the syrup simmering 5-7 minutes over low heat. Cool, strain and store.
  • Chili Peppers: Jalapeno, Habanero, and Tabasco are great for adding a bit of kick. Ancho, and Chipotle are great for adding complexity to already smoky flavors like those found in whiskey cocktails. It’s best to add the peppers after the syrup has been removed from the heat and allow them to steep 6-8 hours until the desired flavor is reached.
Flavored Simple Syrups