Sorghum Syrup Is the Flavorful Upgrade Your Fall Cocktails Need

updated Nov 16, 2020
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Credit: Brittany Conerly

Thanksgiving Food Fest is a virtual food festival full of turkey, pie, games, and fun, starring many of our favorite cooks, ready to share the secrets of a most delicious Thanksgiving. Watch the event live at @thekitchn on Instagram from November 14-15 (or check back here after if you miss it).

If you tuned into our Thanksgiving Food Fest, you might have seen bartender Tiffanie Barriere make a sorghum Old-Fashioned. Barriere, who is known for her creative and innovative cocktails, explained that one simple way to upgrade a classic Old-Fashioned is to skip the typical sugar cube or simple syrup used to sweeten the drink and swap it out for something more flavorful like sorghum syrup! Just a quarter ounce of the dark, sticky syrup was enough to upgrade her classic cocktail into something rich, complex, and perfect for fall. It gave the cocktail a unique butteriness and miso-like quality that completely transformed the cocktail into an unexpected Thanksgiving treat. Here’s what you need to know about using it.

What Is Sorghum Syrup?

Sorghum syrup (also known as sorghum molasses) is a sweet, sticky syrup made from sorghum grass. It has a dark, almost black color with a consistency slightly looser than molasses. The flavor is strong, complex, earthy, slightly sour, and unlike anything else. It’s similar to molasses, but not completely interchangeable, and the flavor is somewhat difficult to describe. If you’ve ever been served a thick, sweet syrup along with biscuits and not known what it was, chances are you’ve tried sorghum syrup without even realizing it.

How to Use Sorghum Syrup in Cocktails

Sorghum syrup is most commonly used in baking or served all on its own as a condiment, but adding it to cocktails is an ingenious new-to-me way to use it. Its rich, complex flavor pairs perfectly with dark spirits such as bourbon, and its natural sugar adds needed sweetness to cocktails. Instead of using a mild sweetener such a sugar, honey, or agave, using sorghum syrup to sweeten cocktails adds not only sweetness, but also flavor.

Get the recipe: Sorghum Old-Fashioned

The only thing to keep in mind is that because sorghum syrup is so thick, it doesn’t dissolve as easily into cocktails as other sweeteners. But luckily, Barriere has a trick for that. When making her cocktail, the first thing Barriere does is add the bitters and sorghum syrup to the glass. She takes the back of a spoon and spreads the syrup up against the sides of the glass so it coats it in a “sticky rinse.” (If you’ve ever had a mudslide before, just imagine that but with sorghum syrup instead of chocolate.) This helps the syrup evenly distribute into the drink so it doesn’t pool at the bottom. Just keep in mind that a little goes a long way, so don’t go overboard the first time you make a cocktail with it.

Credit: Brittany Conerly

Ready to give sorghum syrup a try? Here are some cocktail recipes that would be great with a splash of sorghum syrup.