This is part of my Cocktail Basics series. These posts are here to help you build better cocktails by demystifying ingredients and explaining core concepts.

Making Simple Syrup for Cocktails

Simple syrup is accurately named. Making a batch is dead easy and it is indeed syrupy. You can buy simple syrup but there’s no point when you can make simple syrup for cocktails with just two ingredients.

To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and hot water in a sauce pan. Heat on low and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Don’t let it boil.

Once it cools, store it in the fridge. I keep mine in a plastic squeeze bottle because it eliminates mess and makes it easy to measure out what I need.

Here’s an awesome simple syrup hack from The New Cocktail Hour, my all-time favorite cocktail book:

  • add an ounce of vodka to the syrup and it will keep for months in the fridge.

How to Make Flavored Syrup

Once you’ve learned how to make simple syrup, you can infuse it  with herbs, spices, fruit or other flavor agents. While the syrup is still warm, introduce the flavoring agents to the syrup. Let the mix infuse until you’re satisfied with the strength of the flavor.  The warm syrup gently draws out flavor without breaking down delicate oils. It’s better to add more herbs, etc to deepen the flavor than to use additional heat.

A few ideas:

  • infuse simple syrup with fresh mint for juleps or mojitos – this is a great way to preserve fresh mint during the summer
  • thyme or basil infused syrup is excellent in gin drinks, especially a gin and tonic
  • a few drops of lemon, grapefruit, or orange oil expressed into the syrup adds fruity depth and is fantastic in any drink that features citrus

After the syrup is sufficiently flavored, pour it through a strainer to remove the flavoring agents.

That’s all there is to making basic simple syrup for cocktails or flavored syrup. You can use regular old granulated sugar but demerera sugar, raw sugar or other types of sugar change the flavor and add interesting new notes. It’s worth experimenting to see which sugar you like best or which best suits a particular drink.

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