With warm-weather-drinks season fast approaching (Mojitos, Caipirinhas, Mint Juleps!), now's a good time to stock up on a key ingredient in many refreshing summer cocktails: simple syrup.
Also known as bar syrup, sugar syrup, or gomme, simple syrup plays well in any chilled drink calling for a dash of sweetness. While regular granulated sugar can be stubbornly slow to dissolve in cold liquid (think of the grains that collect at the bottom of a glass of iced tea), simple syrup blends in smoothly and easily. A staple of any well-equipped bar, simple syrup is used in many classic cocktail recipes, including Daiquiris, French 75s, Tom Collins, Whisky Sours, and Ramos Gin Fizzes.
And simple syrup is just that: Simple. While several commercial brands are available at gourmet stores (priced at an eyebrow-raising $5 to $8 for what is literally just a small bottle of sugar and water), it makes infinite sense - and takes only a few minutes - to stir up a batch of your own:
makes approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow mixture to cool, then decant into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Some Simple Variations
- For a deeper, richer flavor, swap out the granulated sugar for brown sugar. (This recipe works especially well in rum drinks, but is not recommended for gin-based cocktails as it will give the clear liquid a brownish tint.)
- For a thicker, heavier syrup, simply adjust the proportions. (Many mixologists prefer a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio.)
- For an even simpler no-stove method, author and bartender extraordinaire Dale DeGroff suggests combining equal parts ultrafine (a.k.a. superfine or caster, not confectioners or powdered - trust us) sugar and water in a bottle with a tight-fitting lid or cork, then shaking the mixture vigorously until the sugar dissolves, allowing it to settle, then shaking briefly again.
For extra flavor and zip, aromatics such as fresh mint leaves, lemon or lime zest (and/or juice), vanilla pods, or fresh peeled and sliced ginger root may be added to the hot mixture after the sugar has dissolved. Once the aromatics are completely submerged in the syrup, remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to steep for about half an hour. Filter out and discard all solids before storing by pouring the syrup through a tightly woven mesh strainer.
For a Silkier Texture
Old-time recipes call for the addition of a third ingredient, gum arabic, which gives the syrup (here referred to as "gomme") and the cocktails it's made with, a distinctively silky mouth feel.
Do you have any syrup recipes of your own? Any special cocktails you use them in? Let us know!
(Image: Nora Maynard)