Spiced simple syrups infused with classic seasonal flavors easily turn ordinary cocktails into something special for holiday entertaining.

Four jars of spiced simple syrup, orange, cranberry, rosemary, and ginger spice.

If you’re new to flavored simple syrups, you’ll be surprised as to how easy they are to make and how versatile they are when it comes to mixing up a batch of holiday cocktails.

This recipe features ingredients and instructions for making four seasonally inspired versions:

  1. Spiced Orange (pairs with tequila, bourbon, or sparkling wine)
  2. Spiced Cranberry (pairs with vodka, gin, or sparkling wine)
  3. Rosemary (pairs with gin or vodka)
  4. Spiced Ginger (pairs with rum or vodka)

How to make spiced simple syrups

They all start with a standard ratio of equal parts sugar and water, simmered just long enough for the sugar to dissolve.

Once removed from the heat, the flavoring ingredients are added and allowed to steep until the syrup has cooled to room temperature.

The syrups are then strained into clean jars, sealed tightly, and refrigerated until ready to use.

Most cocktails only call for 3/4 to 1 ounce of simple syrup, so each batch will make about eight drinks.

If you don’t think you can use a whole batch of simple syrup within a few days, we recommend adding a small quantity of vodka to help preserve it. The instructions are included in the recipe below.

Spiced simple syrup ingredients on a board: ginger, cranberries, rosemary, orange zest, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, cardamom, and star anise

What you’ll need:

In addition to granulated sugar and water, this is a list of the ingredients you would need to make all four of our flavored syrups.

Fresh ingredients:

  • Navel oranges
  • Fresh ginger
  • Whole cranberries
  • Fresh rosemary

Spices:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves
  • Whole allspice berries
  • Whole cardamom pods
  • Star anise
Top view of spiced orange, spiced cranberry, rosemary and winter spice syrups in jars along with a few of the ingredients for decoration

Holiday cocktail recipes made with spiced simple syrup:

For more information on making simple syrup, including using different sweetners, check out our basic recipe.

Holiday Spiced Simple Syrups

Holiday Spiced Simple Syrups

Yield: 1 cup per flavor
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Spiced simple syrups infused with classic seasonal flavors easily turn ordinary cocktails into something special for holiday entertaining.

Ingredients

Spiced orange simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (optional, see notes)

Spiced cranberry simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 12 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 strips orange peel
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (optional, see notes)

Rosemary simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (optional, see notes)

Spiced ginger simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup peeled, sliced ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (optional, see notes)

Instructions

Spiced Orange Simple Syrup

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved, 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the orange zest, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice. Cool for 1 hour to allow the flavors to infuse, then strain into a clean glass jar, and stir in the vodka (optional). Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks (longer with vodka added - see notes).

Cranberry Simple Syrup

  1. Bring the water, sugar, and cranberries to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst, 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, and orange peel. Cool for 1 hour to allow the flavors to infuse, then press through a strainer. Pour syrup into a clean glass jar and stir in the vodka (optional). Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week (longer with vodka added - see notes).

Rosemary Simple Syrup

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved, 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the fresh rosemary, and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup into a clean glass jar and stir in the vodka (optional). Cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 1 week (longer with vodka added - see notes).

Spiced Ginger Simple Syrup

  1. Bring the water, sugar, and ginger slices to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, use a slotted spoon to remove the ginger, then add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, and allspice berries. Set aside to cool for 1 hour, then strain into a clean glass jar and stir in the vodka (optional). Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks (longer with vodka added - see notes).


Notes

Using vodka to preserve flavored simple syrups:

Although plain simple syrup will keep for up to one month when refrigerated in a tightly sealed container, adding ingredients like fruits, spices, and herbs will shorten the shelf life considerably.

Adding a tablespoon of vodka (preferably 100-proof) to a cup of prepared simple syrup will extend the refrigerated shelf life to about twice the amount of time listed in the recipe instructions above.

Whether you opt to add the vodka or not, keep an eye out for a cloudy appearance, change in color or an off odor. These are all signs that your simple syrup may be past its prime.

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.