The answer to the most important question first: Yes, demerara syrup is different from regular simple syrup. Despite being based on the same formula of 1 part water to 1 part sugar, it brings notably more flavor to your drinks.
That extra kick comes from the nature of the coarse-grained sugar compared to traditional white sugar. Thus, Demerara sugar is not only sweetening your cocktail but adds depth of flavor.
- 1 sauce pan
- 1 sealable container
- 0.5 cup Demerara sugar
- 0.5 cup Water
- 1 splash High proof vodka - (optional)
- Add sugar and water into a small pan.0.5 cup Demerara sugar, 0.5 cup Water
- The sugar has to dissolve completely to make a smooth Demerara syrup. You will achieve this by bringing it to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer immediately after that and stir the syrup until the sugar dissolved completely.
- Take it off the heat and let it cool down for a few minutes.
- Pour it into an airtight container and put it in the fridge. You can store it there for up to a month.
- To extend the life of the syrup, add a splash of high-proof vodka.1 splash High proof vodka
How Does it Taste & Difference from Regular Simple Syrup?
Earthy caramel notes, molasses, and slightly toasty sugar notes work amazingly well with the matching selection of spirits. Regular simple syrup is far more one-dimensional and neutral. - But don't forget: Often, this neutral quality is what we want in cocktails.
Nevertheless, Demerara syrup can lift your cocktails to a new level. Use it in an Old Fashioned Cocktail to see how different the taste can be - just by replacing the sweetening part of your cocktail recipe.
What is Demerara Sugar?
Demerara sugar is a raw, flavorful, unrefined sugar made from sugar cane. It has a crunchy and coarse-grained texture with light brown sugar crystals and results from the first crystallization when processing sugar out of cane juice.
Its origin is in British Guyana, where it ships from the port of Demerara. Hence the name Demerara Sugar.
Since Demerara sugar is less refined, it keeps some of the toffee and caramel notes from molasses. The vicious, dark substance usually is removed when producing refined white sugar, creating that clean sweet taste we're so used to.
Demerara sugar is not easy to get, though. Only a few supermarkets sell it. But you can order it online, for instance on Amazon.
Tips & Tricks
Creating a demerara simple syrup is similar to making regular simple syrup. The ratio is the same: one part sugar and one part water. The most important thing is not to burn the sugar. So add water first and keep stirring while your syrup heats up.
If you want to make a rich demerara syrup, use two parts sugar for one part water and follow the same process.
Also, if you want your syrup to last longer, you can add just a splash of vodka to it.
When to Use Demerara Syrup
Demerara is famous for its deep caramel flavor, and so is Demerara syrup. It's a perfect substitute for simple syrup in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned or the Manhattan Cocktail.
Due to the simplicity of those drinks, you can easily detect the difference the syrup makes. Also, their base spirits pair well with it.
They offer similar aromas, and rum even is made from the same product, sugar cane. That's also why Demerara syrup is often part of Tiki cocktails.
Generally, you can use it as a substitute in any cocktail recipe that includes simple syrup. Yet, I don't think it works with all recipes.
Bringing warm toffee notes into a light summer cocktail with a fruity and floral taste is not my cup of tea. It just won't turn out as good as with a classic simple syrup.
As a rule of thumb: imagine how your cocktail would taste with a hint of caramel. If it feels like a good idea, go for it and try it out.
Substitute for Demerara Syrup
If you can't get a hand on Demerara, you can, indeed, substitute it. However, there are not many recommendable options. Your best alternative is using Turbinado.
Turbinado is also a less refined sugar made from sugar cane. Though, while Turbinado is coarser than conventional refined sugar types, it is still way finer than Demerara.
It is also less sticky, having almost the same dry, free-flowing character as refined white sugar. Therefore it carries fewer notes of caramel, overall having a lighter flavor.
If you also can't get Turbinado sugar, the last bet is to use brown sugar. Yet, to be perfectly honest with you, the results will be far from what you aim for with a Demerara Syrup.