Simple syrup is surprisingly easy to make, and knowing how to make simple syrup for coffee and liqueurs at home can make you so much more confident as a home cook or budding barista/mixologist. This is the same simple syrup for cocktails, and by slightly modifying the base recipe, you can also easily make a flavored simple syrup. We’ll teach you how to make simple syrup for old fashioned drinks today.
Homemade simple syrup is awesome because it doesn’t have unpronounceable ingredients mixed into the syrup. Why bother with preservatives when it’s so easy to make at home?
Your cocktails will taste better, and even though homemade syrup doesn’t last forever, you only need a few minutes each time to make another batch. What about HFCS? While HFCS is technically sugar syrup, many cocktails won’t taste right when you use this instead of simple syrup. HFCS is cheap, but it’s not the right ingredients, and it does come with some bad health effects, too.
What is a simple syrup made of?
Simple syrup is made of sugar and water – this is the foundational recipe, the simplest version of the simple syrup. Simple syrup can be used for sweetening, not just coffee, but also stuff like gelati, iced tea, fresh fruit beverages, and cocktails, of course. You read that right: simple syrup is just water and sugar. But there is an art to making simple syrup, and the more you practice, the more you will be able to produce high-quality simple syrups at home.
How long does simple homemade syrup last?
A properly made batch of simple syrup can last in the refrigerator for two to three weeks, easily.
How do you make simple syrup from scratch?
Here are the steps for making high-quality simple syrup at home, from scratch. You will need one cup of filtered or distilled water, and one cup of granulated sugar.
In a medium saucepan, heat one cup of water on medium-high heat until the water starts to get hot (not boiling). Slowly stir in the granulated sugar into the water until everything dissolves. Continue cooking until the sugar and water combine beautifully, and you see the syrup form in the saucepan.
Turn off the heat and let the simple syrup cool down at room temperature before transferring to its final container. We recommend storing simple homemade syrup in a glass jar (like a mason jar with a screw-on lid). You can also use food-grade glass jars with vacuum-type lids, as these are excellent for storing liquids. If the resulting simple syrup is not thick enough for your preference, what you can do is to double the amount of sugar (one cup of water, two cups of sugar) and voila – the syrup will thicken immediately.
Thicker simple syrups are required for some recipes (especially in baking) but also for cocktails that present stronger flavors. Bartenders typically use simple syrups made with a 2:1 ratio for the majority of their cocktails. The 1:1 ratio is better suited for things like sweetening iced tea or sweetening coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Tips for Making Better Simple Syrup
- While there is nothing wrong with heating sugar and water together, it typically takes longer to make syrup this way. The water warms more quickly on its own, so we recommend delaying the adding of the sugar until the water is hot (but not boiling).
- The world of syrup is exciting because the base creation (the simple syrup) can be modified in countless ways. You can add fruit flavorings, herbs, and seasonings to the simple syrup just to see what will happen.
If you like making cocktails at home, you can make different batches of simple syrup for different cocktail mixes. Since simple syrup stores for two to three weeks in the refrigerator and is inexpensive to make, there is no reason for you to not get the right syrup for your favorite cocktails and beverages each time.
- You can make large batches of syrups to give away to friends. Just make sure that you tell them about the storage time for simple syrup in the fridge.
- When adding additional ingredients like sprigs of herbs, remember to add the herb as the sugar is dissolving in the water. This will ensure that the flavor of the sprig of the herb is infused into the solution, and the resulting syrup will have the flavors that you want.
This applies to all kinds of herbs and seasonings from dried/fresh rosemary to cinnamon sticks. Keep in mind also that seasonal beverages also require flavored syrups, and you don’t need to knock your budget for these syrups.
If you have access to the base ingredients at home, you can make high-quality concoctions by making the syrup yourself. Don’t be antsy about experimenting because making simple syrup is one of the things that you cannot possibly mess up when you are cooking at home.
- Simple syrup is amazing with fruit infusions. What kinds of fruit can be added to the syrup to make it even sweeter and more melodious to the taste buds? Mixologists often use ingredients like vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, rose petals, citrus rinds, and even chiles to spice up simple syrups. Keep in mind that it is the interaction of the sweetness and additional flavorings that make cocktails shine. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and we recommend making small batches in the beginning so that you know what you are creating in the first place. You can always scale up your production when making simple syrup at home, so don’t worry about that.
- Create sugar syrup in advance when mixing cocktails for your friends, so you won’t have to use granulated sugar. The main reason why the syrup is used instead of straight out sugar is that sugar tends to leave granules at the bottom of the glass. The good cocktail doesn’t have this type of layover from the mixing process, so to simplify things, bartenders just use syrup.