All About Flavor
Making Basic Cocktail Syrups
Syrups are one of the best tools a bartender has at their disposal. Sweetness is a key component in most well-made cocktails, providing balance when combined with the flavors of the other ingredients—like the sourness of citrus for example. Cocktail syrups are a simple way to integrate that sweet component into your drink.
No matter what sweetener you’re using, converting it to syrup form makes it easier to mix and measure, ensuring a consistent cocktail every time.
Cocktail Syrups of All Kinds
Syrups are typically a combination of a sweetener and a liquid (usually water). And while there are seemingly infinite possibilities, there are some basic syrups used in cocktails you should be familiar with. Simple syrup (made from granulated sugar and water) and honey syrup are a few you’ll see a lot. Bartenders also like to play with less common sweeteners, like agave or demerara syrups (made from darker sugar with rich caramel and molasses flavors).
How to Make Syrups for Cocktails
Let’s start at square one—simple syrup. As the name implies, this is really easy. You take equal parts granulated sugar and water (say, for example, a cup of each), add them to a saucepan and heat it on the stove, stirring until the sugar dissolves. That’s it!
Let it cool and pour it into an airtight container. Properly stored in the refrigerator, it will last about a month.
The same recipe applies for other syrups as well. Want to make honey syrup? Do the same with equal parts honey and water.
How to Make Flavored Syrups
Building on the basic recipe, integrating other flavors into your syrups is a snap. Simply simmer the extra ingredients in the liquid to infuse the flavor. Common examples of added flavors include vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, herbs, fruits, berries and jalapeños. But the world is your oyster here (maybe don’t use oysters though).
There are great examples of flavored syrups for cocktails on The Cocktail Project, like the honey-ginger syrup in the Penicillin. The syrup recipe will often be included if it goes beyond the basics.
The point is, you don’t have to spend a bunch buying fancy syrups at the store. You can easily make them yourself and have some fun experimenting while you’re at it. Once you get it down, life gets a whole lot sweeter.