Because it’s easy to make, colorless, and adds sweetness without additional flavor, a classic simple syrup is the ideal drink sweetener to keep on hand.
Types of Simple Syrup
There are two types of classic simple syrup, regular, which is made using a one-to-one ratio of sugar to water, and rich, a two-to-one ratio that uses double the amount of sugar.
Many professional mixologists prefer the rich variety because its thicker consistency adds substance and mouthfeel to cocktails.
You can also use different types of sweeteners. Here are a few variations and why you might want to try them:
- Demerara and turbinado sugars: Both demerara and turbinado sugar have more caramel flavor than plain granulated, and they work nicely with tropical drinks, especially those made with rum.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar has a rich molasses flavor that makes a simple syrup that’s good for holiday and winter cocktails, especially when infused with spices like cinnamon and cloves.
- Honey: The flavor of honey blends is the perfect choice to mix with bourbon and other types of whiskey, but you can’t add it directly to a cocktail because cold liquids and ice will make it seize. Honey syrup is made by combining 3 parts honey with 1 part boiling water.
Tips for Storing and Preserving
Simple syrup will keep for up to one month when stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Since the sugar itself acts as a preservative, rich simple syrup keeps longer, up to six months.
Adding a tablespoon of vodka (preferably 100-proof) to a cup of prepared simple syrup will extend the shelf life, particularly for flavored syrups that have added ingredients like fruit, herbs, and spices.
Watch for a cloudy appearance, change in color, and off-odors as these are all signs of spoilage, so you’ll need to whip up a fresh batch.
Flavor-Infused Simple Syrup
It’s relatively easy to infuse flavor into simple syrup. We’ve created some spiced versions with classic seasonal flavors that easily turn ordinary cocktails into something special for holiday entertaining. We’ve used them to make a Holiday Old Fashioned and a Spiced Orange Champagne Cocktail.
How to Make Simple Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vodka, optional
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Cool completely before using.
- Store simple syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Discard if it becomes cloudy.