How To Make Simple Syrup for Cocktails

How To Make Simple Syrup for Cocktails

Elliott Clark
Feb 10, 2017
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

When I first started learning how to make cocktails at home, I had no idea people made their own simple syrup. I was the person who went to the store to buy a bottle of what I later learned to be sugar water. That's right — sugar dissolved in water.

It's as easy as pie to make (which doesn't make a lot of sense, considering pie requires some skills), but you should be making your own at home. Simple syrup is an essential ingredient in cocktails and other beverages because it blends so well with other liquids.

When you learn how easy it is, you'll end up creating all different types of amazing fruit and herb syrups for your cocktails at home. Caution: This may cause your friends to come over daily for happy hour!

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

The Ratio for Simple Syrup

Traditional simple syrup is made from one part water to one part sugar (1:1). White granulated sugar is the standard sweetener, but once you've mastered that basic base, feel free to experiment with other sugars, keeping the ratio the same.

Rich simple syrup: One common simple syrup variation is rich simple syrup. Instead of the traditional one part sugar to one part water, it calls for two parts sugar to one part water (2:1). The process of making it is exactly the same. Many bartenders and home cocktail enthusiasts prefer to use rich simple syrup because of the rich syrup's thicker texture. It can add a little more body and mouthfeel to your cocktails.

Making the Simple Syrup

Measuring might be the most complicated part of making simple syrup. Measuring by volume is most common, which is simply measuring one cup of water with a liquid measuring cup and one cup of sugar with a dry measuring cup. The second way to measure your ingredients is by weight, which is more precise (if only by a fraction). To keep it consistent, weigh eight ounces of water and combine that with eight ounces granulated sugar.

Heat the water first, before adding the sugar. Heating the sugar and water together won't ruin the syrup — it just takes longer to heat. It's not necessary to bring the water to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, let the syrup cool. Store it in a glass container in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Adapting and Using Simple Syrup

The world of homemade syrup is endless. You can get pretty creative with fruit syrups, herb syrups, spiced syrups, and more. Making your own syrups at home is a great way to take your home creations to a new level by introducing different flavor profiles into your cocktail. Simple syrup is just the start.

Simple syrup isn't limited to cocktail swizzling either — it's also ideal for flavoring coffee or tea (especially iced). You can also drizzle a dry cake with simple syrup to moisten or flavor it, and use a large batch of simple syrup to make a simple sorbet or granita with fresh fruit.

Classic Cocktails with Apartment Bartender
Elliott Clark, home cocktail enthusiast and founder of Apartment Bartender, joins us this week to open class on classic cocktails to pair with your Great Steak Dinner. Whether you're new to making Martinis or a pro at mixing Old Fashioneds, Elliott has tips on everything from better booze to better barware to improve your home bar.

How To Make Simple Syrup

Makes 1 1/2 cups

What You Need


  • 1 cup

    water, preferably filtered

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • Equipment
  • Medium saucepan

  • Liquid and dry measuring cups

  • Funnel (optional)

  • Pint jar


  1. Heat the water: Heat the water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until hot, but do not bring to a boil.

  2. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until fully dissolved.

  3. Cool and store: Let the syrup cool to room temperature before using or storing. Using a funnel if needed, transfer the simple syrup into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Rich simple syrup: For a thicker, heavier syrup, simply adjust the proportions. Many bartenders prefer a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio.

Storage: Store it in a glass container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

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