Bar Essentials: Simple Syrup

Simple Syrup is basically defined as a liquified form of sugar. It is used to sweeten cocktails. It can also be used to sweeten your tea, coffee, or other cold drinks like lemonade.

Simple syrup is an essential for the well stocked home bar. It is a necessary ingredient in many cocktails, including the Daiquiri, Tom Collins, Mojito and the Hurricane.

From left to right: Cinnamon Syrup, Jalapeño Syrup, Basic Bar Syrup, Madagascar Vanilla Syrup

From left to right: Cinnamon Syrup, Jalapeño Syrup, Basic Bar Syrup, Madagascar Vanilla Syrup


Making your own simple syrup is a quick, simple task. There is no need to buy the bottled Simple Syrup you see on the shelf at your local liquor store. These have added preservatives and stabilizers. In keeping with “Hand Crafted” Cocktails, the more you can create yourself from high-quality, all-natural ingredients, the better.

There are two formulas you can follow to make Simple Syrup. The first is a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water; the second is a 2:1 sugar to water ratio. Various vintage cocktail recipe books refer to “Bar Syrup” with a 1:1 sugar to water ratio. This syrup is preferable to loose sugar because it makes drinks more velvety smooth than loose sugar.

The basic Simple Syrup recipe is as follows:

Step 1 – Bring one cup of water to a boil in a saucepan.
Step 2 – Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
Step 3 – Once sugar is dissolved, remove pan from heat.
Step 4 – Allow to cool, then bottle, preferably in a glass bottle/jar.

You can keep the syrup you have made refrigerated for up to a month. To prolong the shelf life in the fridge, just add a teaspoon of plain Vodka. There is a use for Vodka after all!

White table sugar is preferred, as it adds brightness and intense flavor to your syrup. Demerara Sugar can also be used for a very nice, more mellow flavor. I’ve tried making simple syrup with Raw Sugar, but it makes a murkier color syrup and can change the color of your cocktail. It also makes a thicker, more vicous syrup. Raw sugar has a little bit of molasses left in it that is not processed out. This is what causes the discoloration.

After mastering the basic Simple Syrup recipe, you can add infusions of different flavoring to it. Cinnamon is a simple addition. Add three whole sticks when boiling water; leave in as you add the sugar. After the cooling-off period is complete, remove the sticks and discard. You will then have a lovely syrup to make Zombies with.

Other great infusions are:
Ginger/Mint
Lavender
Jalapeño
Rosemary

These are just a few. Adding any infused simple syrup to your basic daiquiri recipe can really knock the socks off your guests at a party. The Straw Hat Barmen recently did a Mexican-themed party and offered the drinks either “Gringo” or “Caliente.” We added a jalapeño simple syrup to the Caribeno, Daiquiri and the Pinky Gonzales to make it “Caliente” style. This was a huge hit.

Simple Syrup is an essential ingredient to create the fine balance required for a hand-crafted cocktail. The Straw Hat Barmen are active cocktail advocates. We feel it’s easy to drink better crafted cocktails, whether at home or in an establishment. Keep in mind: A few quality, unprocessed, basic ingredients pave the way to a fantastic cocktail.

– Christina Jordan, Straw Hat Barmen

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