Simple Syrup is fast and easy to make at home and a must have ingredient for home mixologists. A basic recipe and seven flavored recipes that are great for cocktails, gifts and more.
If you’ve ever made a cocktail, chances are you’ve heard of simple syrup. The name “simple” couldn’t be more accurate, because making it requires only two ingredients—sugar and water. It’s basically a liquefied form of sugar. When water and sugar are heated together, the granulated sugar dissolves, creating a syrup that can be added smoothly into beverages. Plain simple syrup is great to have on hand, and it’s a main ingredient in many cocktail recipes. Recently, my friend Ashley told me about infusing simple syrups with fresh herbs to add flavor (Ashley also helped me with my vodka infusion blog). I love anything to do with fresh herbs, so I asked her to try making some in the kitchen with me. This post is the result of our crazy herbal syrup experiment!
Infusing simple syrups is a great way to add a sweet herbal essence to drinks and recipes. Herb-infused syrups can be used for sweetening cocktails, adding flavor to tea, or even drizzling over a bowl of fresh fruit. Since they can be made with just 3 ingredients – water, sugar and fresh herbs – chances are you have everything you need right in your kitchen. Simple syrups are bottled and sold in stores, but it’s much easier and cheaper to make them yourself. And why not? Simple syrup is taken to a new level by infusing it; the fresh herbs add a sophisticated flavor and essence. There’s something really fun about making a drink from scratch, especially when you use an herb infused simple syrup as your sweetener. It will give your cocktails a lovely scent and fresh flavor that your guests will absolutely love.
Simple syrup is a key ingredient used to sweeten many cocktail recipes.
It’s a ‘must have’ ingredient for home mixologists to have on hand.
Did you know you can make it yourself?
AND that cocktails are just the start of how it’s used?
This guide answers all your questions about how to make it and 8 easy flavored recipes you’ll love!
WHAT IS SIMPLE SYRUP?
Also known as ‘sugar syrup’, it is a liquified version of sugar used most commonly in cocktails.
It is easy to make and can be infused with many flavors!
WHY USE SIMPLE SYRUP INSTEAD OF SUGAR?
Because it’s liquid, simple syrup mixes easily into drinks (cold drinks especially) and other liquids.
This ensures full mixing of the desired sweetness into a cocktail or other liquid.
It prevents undissolved sugar settling into the bottom of a drink too.
JUST 2 INGREDIENTS!
There are only two ingredients:
- granulated sugar
WHY MAKE IT?
It can be purchased at liquor stores, but there are some advantages of making it yourself:
- Make any size batch you need due to the simple ratio relationship between the ingredients. It’s easy to size a batch.
- It’s easier to keep a fresh batch available when making it at home.
- It’s inexpensive!
CHANGE UP THE SUGAR!
Simple syrup made with granulated white sugar is clear.
Different sugars can be used to change the color and the flavor change.
Demerara or Turbinado sugar – to make a golden color and more light caramel flavor.
Brown sugar – makes a deeply flavored syrup great for winter drinks.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE SIMPLE SYRUP – THREE EASY STEPS
This is the easiest recipe ever!
STEP 1: Combine equal parts of granulated sugar and water in a saucepan.
STEP 2: Bring to a boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
STEP 3: Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.
HOW TO STORE SIMPLE SYRUP
Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST IN THE REFRIGERATOR?
When stored in a sealed container it should last up to 1 month.
HOW TO MAKE FLAVORED SIMPLE SYRUPS
One of my favorite ways to create custom cocktails is to make flavored syrups.
The flavor combination are unlimited (some of my favorites are listed later).
STEPS TO MAKE IT:
STEP 1: Add a flavoring item to the base/regular simple syrup recipe.
Examples of flavoring items:
- vanilla bean
- cinnamon stick
- whole spices
STEP 2: Allow to ‘infuse’; transferring flavor to the syrup.
STEP 3: Allow the ingredients to simmer together then cool fully. This creates a rich depth of flavor.
HOW TO USE IT
The most common use is in making cocktails but that’s not all:
- In cocktails (some recipe ideas below)
- Sweeten cold drinks like iced tea, lemonade or iced coffee (since it is a liquid it blends quickly and well)
- To moisten cakes! A long-known bakers’ trick to keep cakes moist by either soaking the cake layers before assembly or using a squeeze bottle to drizzle it over small holes made in the cake layers
- Poaching fruit. Pears in particular!
- Add it to a sorbet recipe
- Drizzle over a fruit salad for some extra sweetness (especially if you’ve infused the simple syrup)
- Drizzle over pancakes and waffles for extra sweetness
- Drizzle over plain yogurt
- Add a bit to sparkling water for a whole new drink
- Use it in oatmeal
- Give for gifts
- Add it to a marinade for a sweet-savory ingredient mix
Base Recipe for Herb-Infused Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup to 1 cup fresh herbs, washed (depending on the recipe)
- Combine water, sugar, and herbs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and let syrup steep, about 30 minutes.
- Pour syrup into a sterilized glass jar through a mesh strainer to remove herbs. Let cool; store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Tips for Making Herb-Infused Simple Syrup
- Use organically grown herbs to avoid pesticides and contaminants.
- Wash herbs thoroughly to remove soil and the itty bitty critters lurking in the nooks and crannies. You’d be surprised what rinses out from the most pristine-looking cuttings.
- I used white sugar because I like the way the herbs give a pale green tinge to the simple syrup. If you choose to use raw sugar, your syrup will take on a more amber tone.
- Sterilize your glass jars(and lids) before filling them with syrup. This helps the syrup last longer in the fridge.
- Strain out all of the solids before stashing the cooled syrup in the fridge, otherwise you could encourage mold and off flavors to develop.
- Make small batches so you can get through a whole jar of simple syrup within a month.
5 Herbal Simple Syrups to Try
Here are five easy recipes to get you started.
1. Rosemary Simple Syrup
Like the essence of a pine-scented hot summer’s day distilled into syrup form. Heavenly in drinks and sorbets.
2. Basil Simple Syrup
I grow three different kinds of basil in my garden for subtle flavor variations. Use this to sweeten Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade.
3. Lavender Simple Syrup
The floral undertones play well with citrus. In other words, your lemonade needs this.
4. Lemon Verbena Simple Syrup
The grassy, citrusy aroma is as refreshing as the taste. Crush the leaves to make your whole kitchen smell amazing.
5. Mint Simple Syrup
Like the basil syrup, you can get lots of flavor variations. Try pineapple mint, chocolate mint, peppermint, spearmint, apple mint…you get the picture.
Ideas for Using Herb-Infused Simple Syrups
- Double a recipe to churn into a small batch of sorbet.
- Use it to sweeten iced tea or add a new dimension to a pitcher of lemonade.
- Brush it between cake layers to add moistness and flavor.
- Use it alone or with yogurt to dress fruit salads.
- Mix it with sparkling water or tonic for a refreshing homemade soda.
Get more ideas for using flavored simple syrups in cocktails and mocktails.