Simple Syrup

What is simple syrup? As the name states, simple syrup is pretty simple. However, it is a crucial 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 a 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, just 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.

Check out Orgeat Syrup for more information on making syrups.

5 Comments on Simple Syrup for Cocktails

By j Cheney on May 22, 2007, 1:17 AM

Nice site. Just found it.

One thing you might want to check out is Sonoma Syrup from California. They bottle the simple syrup and flavored syrups. I use the simple type in my Margaritas.

By Richard on August 31, 2007, 11:54 PM

Adding fructose or corn syrup is a bit pointless IF you add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the mixture and boil it longer. That little bit of acidity breaks the molecular bond in sucrose, and you get glucose and fructose as products. The resulting syrup keeps much longer even without refrigeration, won’t crystalize, and is about 20% sweeter.

By Dennis Forcier on January 23, 2008, 3:31 PM

I just made some simple syrup with turbinado (raw) sugar, using the 4:3 ratio and the cream of tartar trick, just bringing it to a boil. It came out a pale golden color, like weak maple syrup. Raw sugar has a little of molasses left in it, so it has a slightly rich taste. Not sure of the effect in drinks yet. I’ll try it in a Cosmo this evening…

By Jim Kay on June 22, 2008, 10:07 PM

Thanks for the extra information on the simple syrup. I’ve been using your recipe from Mixologist to make a simple syrup and also as a base for some flavored syrups. Just read the subsequent article on the sour mix which got me thinking…How about putting some maltodextrin into the simple syrup mix to enhance the mouth feel? I have some Arabic gum I’m going to play with, but the maltodextrin sounds easier to work with.

By Shirley on January 17, 2010, 6:35 PM

Have just found this website and am experimenting with some ideas for a frozen cocktail machine for home but don’t want the commercially bought mixes and would like to do some of my own does anyone know the correct sugar and water ratio for frozen cocktails.

Previous post

Rum and Coke

Next post

Triple Sec Liqueur