DrinkBoy logo for Facebook et. al.

Simple Syrup

For something as simple as... well... simple syrup, three sure is a lot of confusion about it, especially from newcomers to the field. To put things as simply as possible, simple syrup is just sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water. There is also a "rich" simple syrup, which is where you add twice as much sugar as you do water. Most bars however typically use the 1:1 ratio.

Simple Syrup Demystified

When a drink needs a little sweetening (Old Fashioned,
Daiquiri, Lemon Drop, etc) it’s time to call on sugar to do its duty. The
problem, is that sugar doesn’t dissolve well in alcohol, so if you are making a
drink like an Old Fashioned, you first have to muddle the sugar cube in the
glass with an equal amount of water, in order to get the sugar dissolved enough
before you add any alcohol. A problem here, is that even in water, sugar doesn’t
dissolve instantly, and so you will almost always end up with a certain amount
of grit in the glass when you are done. Simple syrup is sugar that has been
pre-dissolved in water, which not only makes it quicker/easier to make an Old
Fashioned, but it also guarantees that you won’t have any grit in the glass.

There are several ways to make simple syrup, let’s talk
first about ratios. The most common form of simple syrup used in bars these
days is “1 to 1” simple syrup, or essentially equal amounts of sugar and water
(ie, 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water). Some people prefer to use what is called “rich”
simple syrup, which is a 2 to 1 ratio (ie. 2 cups sugar to 1 cup water). And
there is even a stronger concentration out there, sometimes called for in “Tiki”
recipes, called “Rock Candy Syrup”. This is the same thing as simple syrup, but
just has a heck of a lot more sugar in it, so much so in fact that it is
referred to as being “supersaturated”. But we won’t cover rock candy syrup
here, since it is so rarely called for in typical mixology.

Cold Water Method

To make simple syrup you just dissolve the sugar in the
water, if you are making normal (1:1) simple syrup, you can do this one of two
ways. The easiest way is to do the “cold water” method. This is easiest done in
a bottle/container that has graduated measurements on the side of it, or which
you have pre-marked by half-filling the container with water, making a mark,
then adding that much more water again, and making another mark. Now, in your
(empty) marked container, fill it half-way up with sugar, and then add water to
the second mark. Cap it tightly and shake it really hard for about 30 seconds.
Let it sit for about 10 minutes or so, by which time it should get fairly
clear, and you’ll also notice that the level looks like it’s dropped a bit from
the “full” mark. This is because the water was able to work its way into the
space between the sugar granules. So add more water to bring it back to the
full level (which yes, means you aren’t really using a 1:1 ratio). And now give
the container another 20 seconds or so of shaking and let it set again. Soon,
it will be perfectly clear and ready for use. If you are going to go through
this amount of syrup in a week or so, then you’re done. If you think it might
take longer than this, and then toss in some vodka, higher the proof the
better, to keep the fuzzies away. I typically add 1 ounce of vodka to 1 quart
of syrup.

Hot Water Method

The other way to make simple syrup takes a little more work,
but just a little. In this case you heat the water up on the stove until it
just comes to a simmer, then add the sugar and stir until it dissolves
completely. Then allow it to cool and put it in your container, and add the
vodka as listed above. You can do this for either regular (1:1) simple syrup,
or rich (2:1). The cold water method doesn’t work as well with rich because the
amount of sugar now being used doesn’t dissolve quite as readily, so it needs
the extra help of heat to get it going.

Please remember to drink safely and responsibly.
This site is intended only for those of legal drinking age.
Unless otherwise noted, all information on this site is Copyright © 1998-2014 Robert B. Hess Send Me Some e-Mail
All Rights Reserved