Cocktail season is my favorite time of year. What is cocktail season you ask? You know the time of year when the cold weather finally ships out, leaving us with pleasantly warm winds, bright sunshine, patios, & late sunsets? This, my friends, is cocktail season!
The first order of business when prepping for this auspicious occasion is to set my theme for the current season, oh yes, I’m that serious about this. Once done, I review my bar to see what I have and don’t have, I restock supplies, and lastly, I make a few key needed ingredients. I mean, I have to ensure the bar is ready to be pressed into service, right? 🙂
Just ask my friends, or anyone I’ve had over for beverages, I’m a HUGE proponent of serving up the freshest & healthiest (yes, I know how odd that sounds 🙂 ) cocktails. This means I use quality ingredients, fresh juices & mixes when possible, and bespoke simple syrups. While prepping this year, I got the idea to pen a “Basics” series to share a few of my home bar essentials and favs with you all.
There’s a lot ground to cover, so first up in the series is: How to Make Simple Syrup.
What is Simple Syrup?
Quite simply, simple syrup is equal parts sweetener to equal parts water. Yep, that’s it. For me, simple syrup is a staple because it can be used to sweeten any beverage, alcoholic or non-alcoholic (tea, lemonade, coffee, etc.) And since it’s a liquid sweetener, it’s much easier sweetening your cold beverages with it. You can also use simple syrup in some cooking and baking applications. A quick Google search will net you several alternative ways you can use up your supply, should you need it.
How to Make Simple Syrup
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cups of sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
- Add sugar and water to a small pot
- Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring often
- Once sugar is dissolved, remove syrup from the stove top and allow it to cool down
*the mixture does not need to boil, boiling causes the water to evaporate which will affect the water to sugar ratio
- Once cool, store in a clean container in the fridge.
Each batch should last about a month or so, stored in a clean container in the fridge. If at any point your syrup gets moldy, throw it out.
I usually make my simple syrup in 2 cup batches. I find this lasts me anywhere between 2 weeks to a month, depending on the cocktails I make or other beverages I use it in. But you can easily cut this recipe in half, or double/triple/quadruple it depending on your needs.
Jazzing Up Simple Syrups
As I’ve proved with this article (I hope), simple syrup is very easy to make and quite plain, but the ways to jazz it up are limited only by your creativity and taste palate. The easiest way to jazz up your syrups is to use different types of sweeteners. Any sweetener will do: maple syrup, agave, brown sugar, etc. I primarily use raw sugar vs. white sugar. Not only does the raw sugar give the syrup an amber color, I think it imparts a bit more taste than plain white sugar does. Honey is another of my favorite alternatives to use. There are so many honey varieties available, you can really explore with it as your flavor base.
You can also add different herbs, edible flowers, etc. to your simple syrup to custom tailor it. Just strain out whatever you add before you store it away. Lavender is one of my favorites. I love the scent and light floral flavor it imparts. Mint simple syrup is excellent in mojitos and mint juleps ~recipe here~. I’ve also been known to make a maple rosemary simple syrup for my whiskey sours. Good stuff I tell ya.
Now that you’re fully in the know about simply syrups, go out and make a batch for this weekend. And if you’re wanting to experiment a little, check out this article from my favorite cocktail magazine, Imbibe. They have a list of over 50 simple syrups to help get you going.