Do it yourself: how to make your own syrups from scratch

World Best Bar

Apr 17, 2020

Do it yourself: how to make your own syrups from scratch
Somewhere between the potency of spirits and the tartness of citrus is sugar, an essential link in the cocktail chain. It adds a well-rounded taste and texture while balancing the flavors in your drink. More often than not, it appears in cocktails in its liquid form: syrup.

If you’ve decided to start trying your hand at making your favorite tipples at home, you’ll soon realize how important it is to have syrups around. But store-bought syrups have labels that read more like catalogues of additives and artificial colorings than actual lists of ingredients, and their flavor will never come close to something that’s freshly made.

Fortunately, you can easily make your own syrups yourself, a healthier and tastier alternative to sweeten all your homemade concoctions. As warmer days approach, syrups are also a great way to create delicious alcohol-free refreshers even your kids can enjoy. Just pour in some cool water or seltzer over ice, garnish with fresh herbs or fruits if you’re feeling fancy, and voila!

1. Let’s start at the beginning: simple syrup

This classic cocktail ingredient is truly… well, simple to make, since it only involves diluting sugar in water. Pour one part water in a saucepan, add one part sugar, and stir on low heat until dissolved, making sure the mixture doesn’t reach a boil. Then add in a second part of sugar and keep stirring. We recommend this 2 to 1 density ratio because it results in higher viscosity, adding a nicer texture to cocktails. Less water also means less dilution of the final product, and thus a more concentrated taste. Once all the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat, cover, and let cool for an hour before bottling.

2. Now that you’ve mastered this technique, there’s no limit to all the flavored syrups you can make

Just infuse the ingredient of your choice in your simple syrup mix. This can be done at the beginning of the preparation – for ginger syrup, just add fresh ginger to the pot before heating; or at the cooling stage – for pineapple syrup, cube some pineapple, let it steep in the warm syrup for a few hours, filter it, and press the fruit with a spoon to extract all the flavor. For mint, or any other fresh aromatic herb, it’s even easier: let a good-sized bunch rest in the syrup, filter it, and you’re done.

3. Want to take it up a notch?

A bright red grenadine syrup will let you whip up killer Tequila Sunrises as well as kid-friendly Shirley Temples. The method is the same as for simple syrup, just use fresh, 100% pure pomegranate juice (no additives or preservatives) instead of water. Once the syrup is cool and bottled, add a few drops of lemon juice and a dash of orange blossom water (a little goes a long way) and give it a couple of shakes. For even more flavor, you can add 60 ml of pomegranate molasses (which can be found in any good Middle Eastern grocery store) per half-liter of juice at the beginning of the preparation.

The amount of sugar in these concoctions will guarantee you a lifespan of a few weeks. Just be sure to use clean, dry containers, sterilized if possible. Always store in the fridge. Simple syrup is naturally longer lasting than flavored syrup: it’s the flavors that evaporate or oxidize faster. A light, fresh pineapple syrup will only last about a week. Grenadine syrup can last for a month. Simple syrup, three months.

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