Simple Syrup for Cocktails
by Darcy O'Neil on August 2010
What is simple syrup? As the name states, simple syrup is pretty simple. However, it is a very important part of cocktails and without a standard syrup, many cocktails can become cloyingly sweet or unbalanced. In the Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail, I wrote an in-depth article on how to make simple syrup and some background information on the types of sugar you can use to make it. In this post I'm going to provide you with a couple of recipes to get you started, but if you would like more information, please feel free to pick up a copy of Mixologist.
The basics formulas for simple syrup are 1:1 and 2:1 sugar to water. The most common syrup is the 2:1 formula, which is pretty much standard for most cocktails. To make this, simply add 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup water to a pot and gently heat until all of the sugar is dissolved. Pour the syrup into a clean bottle and it's ready to use. You don't need to boil the water when making simple syrup.
A couple of suggestions that will make your simple syrup better include adding ¼ cup of corn syrup to the mixture. This will help prevent crystallization of the sugar, since it is a super saturated solution. The other suggestion is to add one or two ounces of vodka or neutral grain spirit to the simple syrup after it has been bottled. This will help prevent mold or bacteria from growing.
If you want to try something different, you can try adding a portion of fructose (available at your local health food store) to your simple syrup recipe. Fructose is a fruit sugar and is the most common sugar found in fruits like peaches, pears, berries, etc.
My personal favorite simple syrup is one that makes 1 teaspoon of simple syrup equal 1 teaspoon of sugar. That way I know how much sugar is going into each drink, and if a recipe calls for sugar, I can pour the exact amount. The rough ratio for this solution is four parts sugar to three parts water.