The first thing to know about simple syrup is that it indeed lives up to its name. Dissolve sugar in water — that’s it. We tend to prefer the “rich” variation below. I don’t find it that much sweeter than the basic version, but it is a great deal more silky.
Basic Simple Syrup
1 part Water
1 part Sugar
Rich Simple Syrup
1 part Water
2 parts Sugar
Slightly heat water in a sauce pan over lowest possible flame. Stir in sugar in multiple batches and stir to dissolve before adding the next batch. Finish when all sugar is dissolved.
While there’s no question that it’s a foolproof recipe, there is a question as to which sugar to use.
If all you have is regular, old white C&H Sugar, you’re fine. Basic white sugar makes a great syrup — it’s light, it’s bright, and if you use the above technique, you’ll be able to follow any of the recipes given here or found elsewhere without over sweetening your final concoction.
Back in the days of cocktail yore, sugar didn’t quite look like the snow white, super refined product we see today. It looked more what we call brown sugar. Brown sugar, of course, is typically unrefined — meaning it retains its molasses and hasn’t had a host of additives forced upon it. Of course, not all brown sugar has been created equal; what you want here is Demerara or Sugar in the Raw. The crystals tend to be a little too large to dissolve well, so a quick trip through the food processor is in order.
Because it still has its molasses, brown syrup will bring this extra flavor to your drinks, which is wonderful for rum and not bad with any other brown spirit. With clear spirits — gin and vodka — brown syrup can discolor your drink, but don’t let that dissuade you from giving it a go. It also tends to be less sweet than white syrup, so you may need to fiddle with the amount.
Gomme or Gum syrup has an extra ingredient — gum acacia. This lends a silky smooth quality to the syrup that is a) wonderful; and, b) not so wonderful that your bar can’t live without it. Gum Acacia (or Gum Arabia, as it’s also called) runs about $23 a pound, and it doesn’t go as far as you’d like it to. However, it is what they used in the old days, and if you feel like whipping up a batch, search the interwebs for a recipe (or email me) and head over to Frontier Coop to pick up your supply.
If you want to add a little extra depth to your drinks, try adding some flavor. Around home, we typically brew up Rosemary, Mint, and Lemon, but this is a place to let your creativity have a little fun.
Making flavored syrups may take a little longer, but it really isn’t any more difficult:
This works best for woody flavorings like Rosemary. For more fragile items, like berries, use the cold method.
Once your basic recipe is done, throw in a handful of herbs or citrus rind (peel with a vegetable peeler to avoid the white pith). Bring the whole thing to a boil, then cover it and take it off the heat, leaving it until it cools. Remove or strain out the solid bits, and you’re done.
Wash your flavoring item and cover it completely with rich simple syrup. Let stand overnight, then strain out the solids.
For died flowers, herbs, and other plants, brew a tea first, then use the tea as the liquid portion of your simple syrup. Brewing time and amounts will vary, but a good start is 0.5 Cup of herbs and 4 Cups of boiling water, brewed for 7 minutes.
1 part (2 cups) Pure Pomegranate Juice (POM or other brand)
2 parts (4 cups) Sugar
French Orange Flower Water
- Heat the juice over a very low flame and mix in the sugar in batches until it is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear.
- Remove 3/4 of syrup from the stove, and heat the remaining 1/4 over a medium flame until it is reduced by half. When this is done, add to the rest of the syrup.
- Add approximately six drops each of orange flower water and rose water — just enough to accent the syrup without becoming prominent notes.
The reason I like the mixture of the reduced syrup with the regular syrup is that it provides both brightness and depth in the final product.
This is a work in progress, which I am casually developing as a more honest replacement to Rose’s Lime Juice/Cordial. It is vastly different than most other recipes out there, but that’s why I like. On the color and clarity fronts, it’s very close to Rose’s, and think it tastes better.
3 oz Lime zest-infused Vodka
2 oz Agave Nectar
2 oz Cane Sugar Syrup
0.25 tsp Citric Acid
- The night before, zest 3-4 limes (I used standard Mexican limes) and cover zest with vodka (I used regular Stoli). Strain the liquid from the zest, and discard the solids.
- Prepare a 1:1 cane sugar syrup
- When needed, stir together ingredients to mix.
My proportions are simply for the batch size I made; feel free to scale as needed.
Note: This syrup loses some punch the next day. It’s best to make as you need it.
This is a true, thick “Black Chicken” version of Advocaat — so thick you can eat it with a spoon. It’s also very boozy, so feel free to scale back the Brandy.
Makes approximately 700ml or 23 oz.
10 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups sugar (250 g)
1 1/2 cups brandy, or cognac (350 ml)
2 tsp vanilla extract
- Beat the egg yolks, salt and sugar until thickened.
- Slowly trickle in the brandy, while still beating. (The mixture will thin again)
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and warm over a low heat, continuously whisking. (We used a double boiler, which makes it much easier to control the heat).
- It is important to be patient here. If it boils, the alcohol will evaporate.
- The Advocaat is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. (You’ll notice when it starts to get thick. Immediately, proceed to Step 6).
- Now remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk through the vanilla extract.
- Store in the fridge. (We added this, but it should be self-evident. We have no long how long it will keep; so, use your best discretion).
To keep any syrup for many months, add an ounce of vodka and store in the fridge.