Here's what you need to know about simple syrup, how to make it, how to store it and how to make a few flavor-infused variations.
Because it's colorless and easy to mix, simple syrup is the ideal sweetener for many cocktails.
Made with granulated sugar and water, the mixture is also easy to infuse with fresh herbs, spices, and other ingredients to add depth of flavor to all types of mixed drinks.
Regular vs. Rich Simple Syrup
There are two types of simple syrup, regular, which is a one-to-one ratio of sugar to water, and rich simple syrup, a two-to-one ratio that uses double the amount of sugar.
Because you only need half as much to achieve the same level of sweetness, many mixologists prefer rich simple syrup. They believe its thicker consistency adds substance and mouthfeel to cocktails as well.
Storing Simple Syrup
Simple syrup will keep for up to one month when stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. Since the sugar itself acts as a preservative, rich simple syrup can be kept up to six months.
Adding a tablespoon of vodka to a cup of prepared simple syrup will extend the shelf life, but you might not want the added alcohol.
A cloudy appearance or funny odor are both signs that your simple syrup has gone bad. Given how inexpensive and easy it is to make, we always err on the side of caution and whip up a fresh batch if we're just not sure.
Making Simple Syrup with Different Sugars
You can also use different types of sugar to make simple syrup. Demerara and turbinado sugars have more caramel flavor and work nicely with tropical drinks, especially those made with rum.
Brown sugar has a rich molasses flavor that makes a simple syrup that's good for holiday and winter cocktails with added spice flavors.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a non-reactive saucepan.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the syrup turns completely clear.
- Cool completely before using.
- Store simple syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks (see notes below). Discard if it becomes cloudy.
How To Make Infused Simple Syrups
To make these infused syrups, follow the recipe above, but don't cool the syrup before adding the various flavorings.
- Basil Simple Syrup - Bruise 6 to 8 basil leaves by bending them back and forth to release the oils. Add them to a glass jar and pour in the hot syrup. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, then strain out the leaves and discard.
- Ginger Simple Syrup - Cut 6 slices of ginger about the size of a quarter and 1/8-inch thick. Add them to a glass jar and muddle gently. Pour in the hot syrup, cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, then strain out the ginger and discard.
- Clove Simple Syrup - Place 10 to 12 whole cloves in a glass jar. Pour the hot syrup over them, cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, then strain out the cloves and discard.
- Green Tea Simple Syrup - Place 2 green tea bags in a glass jar and pour the hot syrup over them. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, then press the liquid out of the tea bags and discard.