One of the most essential bar ingredients a home bar needs—outside of the liquor cabinet—is simple syrup. Many cocktails benefit from a little added sugar to counteract bitterness and acid. Because granulated sugar is tough, if not impossible, to dissolve in cold liquids (especially alcohol), simple syrup becomes the perfect way to add sweetness to a drink. As the name implies, simple syrup is incredibly easy to make. Combine one part sugar with one part warm or hot water, shake it up to dissolve the sugar, and there you have it! Simple syrup! Once you’ve mastered this incredibly easy process, try substituting white granulated sugar for another type—like brown sugar or honey (any type of sugar can be used to make simple syrup). Adding additional flavors will result in a compound syrup. Do you have extra herbs from last night’s dinner recipe? What about a few extra berries that need to be used up before they perish? Utilizing these types of ingredients is the perfect way to stay out ahead of food waste. Simple syrups can be used for more than cocktails. Add to club soda or iced tea for a refreshing alcohol-free drink. Spoon it over ice cream, yogurt or a fruit bowl for a sweet, flavorful topping. Shake it into a salad dressing, or sweep it between layers of sheet cake to moisten and add additional flavor.
Although the “simple” in simple syrup is due to its easy-to-remember 1:1 volume ratio, using weight measurements for your wet and dry ingredients will yield a more accurate balance of flavor, liquidity and sweetness. If you have yet to invest in a food scale, consider doing so. Aside from its accuracy, it will reduce your dirty dishes at the end of the day! Secondly, unless the directions tell you to do so, you do not need to bring your water or syrup to a boil in order to infuse flavor or dissolve sugar. On the contrary, boiling your water will throw off your water-to-sugar ratio. Many sugar syrups—both simple and compound—will keep for 3-4 weeks if stored in sterilized glass jars or bottles in the refrigerator. Just keep your tools and equipment very clean throughout the process. If you don’t think you’ll use up your syrup within a month, add one ounce of vodka to the syrup. This will help extend it's life a bit longer. Lastly, once you get the hand of making syrups, your fridge may start to acquire several jars of varying flavors. For sanity’s sake, label them! You—and your housemates—will thank you later!
1. In a one-quart saucepan, heat water over medium-high heat.
2. When you start to see tiny bubbles build on the bottom of your saucepan, add your sugar and stir until dissolved fully.
3. Once dissolved, remove from heat to cool, then bottle in your favorite glass jar or bottle. 4. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Substitute white sugar for 1 cup demerara sugar Follow same directions for simple syrup
Substitute white sugar for 1 cup muscovado sugar Follow same directions for simple syrup
Substitute white sugar for 1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar Follow same directions for simple syrup
Combine 4 ounces water with 4 ounces honey Follow same directions for simple syrup
Combine 4 ounces water with 4 ounces agave nectar Follow same directions for simple syrup
Herbal and Floral Simple Syrups
1. Make simple syrup as described above
2. When sugar is completely dissolved, add one of following of your choosing to your syrup and stir:
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
4 large, whole rosemary sprigs 6 large, whole thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons organic, food grade lavender buds
1/4 cup organic, food grade rose petals
3. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes
4. Remove leaves/sprigs, allow to cool, and strain into a bottle or jar
5. Refrigerate until ready to use
Fruit and Berries Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup ripe or frozen fruit
1. Prepare your fruit
2. If you are using large fruit like peaches or pears, wash and core the fruit and chop it into large chunks. For berries, simply wash and remove all stems and leaves. Add your fruit to a 2- quart saucepan with your water
3. Heat fruit and water to a simmer, stirring occasionally so as not to boil over. Continue to simmer for 12-15 minutes until fruit has lost its shape and some or all of its coloring.
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
5. Strain your fruit water through a mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter
6. Return the strained fruit water back into a cleaned saucepan and if needed, return to heat to warm slightly
7. Add sugar and stir to dissolve completely
8. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and store refrigerated in a glass bottle or jar.
1. Juice your pomegranates. There are several ways to do this. A juicer works great, but if you don’t have a juicer, use a citrus press or citrus juicer. Simply cut the pomegranate right in half and press each side into the juicer the way you would any other citrus. Do be careful of the spray of the juice however, as pomegranate juice will stain. Two pomegranates should yield approximately 2 cups of juice.
2. Add your juice to a 2 quart saucepan and heat gently to just a simmer
3. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved
4. Add pomegranate molasses and orange blossom water and stir to incorporate
5. Remove from heat and allow to cool
6. Store refrigerated in a glass bottle or jar
Craving Boston's Sara is a Boston-based cocktail enthusiast and bon vivant. Outside of her job in real estate, she enjoys mixing drinks and entertaining for friends in her tiny Beacon Hill apartment, and eating and imbibing at restaurants and bars – and Instagramming her favorites – throughout the greater Boston region.
Sign-up for WGBH Food & Wine updates, Craving Boston updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.
Not a problem. Just enter the username you used to register below.Or CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT
Instructions on how to reset your Password have been sent.
Check your email to continue.
Not a problem. Just enter the email address you used to register below.Or CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT
Instructions on how to reset your Username have been sent.
Check your email to continue.