If you are new to bartending and mixology, you will soon learn that most cocktail recipes ask for some kind of syrup. In the vast majority of recipes, this will be simple syrup, making it one of the most used ingredients in cocktails.
Instead of heading to the store and buying a bottle, you can save some $$ and make it at home. After all, this syrup is just sugar dissolved in water.
Quick Facts Simple Syrup for Cocktails
- Method: cooked
- Flavor profile: sweet
- Best for: fits all types of cocktails
- Calories: 50 kcal per oz (~6.8gramm of sugar per oz)
Apart from cocktails, this simple syrup is also great to sweeten other beverages like coffee, lemonade, or tea.
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup Sugar
- Add sugar and water to a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and stir the mixture while bringing it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer. For getting a nice and smooth syrup, the sugar has to dissolve completely in the water. That usually will take a few minutes.
- Once the sugar is fully dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool down completely.
- When the syrup is cold, pour it into your container and put it in the fridge. And that is already it. Your syrup is done and will usually last around 3-4 weeks.
Best sugar for simple syrup
Regular simple syrup is best made with caster sugar. It's readily available in every supermarket, and it is also affordable. The fine, white crystals dissolve nicely in warm water, and your syrup will have a neutral taste - something you want for many traditional cocktail recipes.
Alternatively, you can use regular white, granulated sugar. It's even easier to get and will cost you less. Avoid powdered sugar, though. It is too fine and, in the US, often contains a so-called anti-caking agent. This additive, e.g., cornstarch, makes up about 5% of the sugar, and we don't want that in our cocktails.
The perfect Ratio of Sugar & Water
The ideal ratio in the standard recipe for simple syrup uses one part sugar to one part water (1:1). Whenever you read simple syrup in a cocktail recipe, it refers to this ratio. This recipe is also the base for most flavored and colored variations.
However, there's also another common type of sugar syrup for cocktails, usually referred to as rich simple syrup.
What is Rich Simple Syrup?
The recipe for rich simple syrup requires two parts sugar per one part water (2:1). It is the most common variation of the base formula and has a thicker consistency and a sweeter taste.
It is often used to get a richer texture in drinks, and it creates a better mouthfeel. The process is the same as for regular syrup. It only takes a little longer until all sugar is dissolved in the water.
Tips for making Simple syrup
Making simple syrup is very straightforward. The most elaborate part about making your own simple syrup is measuring the ingredients and bottling the final syrup.
- 1. Measure - We need equal parts of water and sugar. If you measure with cups, use a liquid cup for water and a dry cup for the sugar. A more precise way is to measure both ingredients by weight.
- 2. Heat and Dissolve - You can heat the water first and then add sugar or add the sugar straight away. The difference is minimal. Stir while the mix slowly warms up to speed up the dissolving process.
- 3. Cool Down & Bottling - Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture cool down. Only bottle your syrup when it reaches room temperature. Use a funnel to make the process easier, and put the bottle in the fridge afterward.
Variations on the recipe
A common way to create variations of simple syrup is to substitute the type of sugar you're using as a base. Try out honey or brown sugar, or go sugar-free with stevia. Further, you can experiment with special subtypes like cane, coconut, or Demerara sugar.
Additionally, you can easily aromatize your homemade simple syrup can easily with all sorts of ingredients. The sky is the limit, quite literally. Get creative and try making floral, fruity, spicy, or herbal syrups. We also have some inspiration for you.
Making Flavored syrups
Here are some ideas for your next flavor syrups:
- Use cinnamon sticks for a spicy cinnamon syrup
- Elderflower blossoms make for an elegant floral & herbal sweetener
- Add Hibiscus flower for a sweet and floral syrup
- Use Butterfly pea flowers to make a dark blue and color-changing syrup
- Add lavender flowers to create a delicate floral syrup
- Use fresh and ripe passion fruits in our amazing tropical syrup recipe
- Pineapple also works well in syrup; -And it's perfect for Rum cocktails
- Or make a delicious fig syrup that's fantastic in a G&T
- Pink Dragon fruit makes for a bright pink and deliciously fruity syrup
Cocktail recipes with simple syrup
The list of cocktails that call for simple syrup in their recipes is sheer endless. Here are some of the best-known:
- basically all cocktails that follow the Sour Template, here are our favorite Sour drinks for you to try
- the Sazerac Cocktail
- the Southside Cocktail
- many of the best Mule Variations
- Collins Cocktails
- the French 75
and many more.
Frequently Asked Questions
When properly sealed and refrigerated, it lasts 2-3 weeks. By adding a shot of Vodka, you can extend shelf life to 4-5 weeks.
Yes, you can freeze a standard 1:1 simple syrup. But if you do and want to use it, plan in enough time for it to liquefy again.
Yes, you can use this syrup for desserts, to sweeten coffee, tea, and even lemonade.
Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener made by dissolving sugar in water. It brings sweetness to cocktails and balances the tart and acidic flavors of fresh lime or lemon juice.
Bartenders use all kinds of syrups. The most common ones are simple syrup (1:1 ratio) and rich syrup (2:1 ratio).