8 Simple Syrup Recipes for Your Home Bar

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Bar Essentials: Simple Syrups

Similar to how a pinch of salt added to any meal can help flavors shine, a little sugar in a cocktail can be transformative. In fact, sugar is one of the 4 key ingredients in an Old Fashioned–the drink that helped define all cocktails. Sugar adds depth, smooths harshness from citrus and ethanol, and can give a cocktail a silky mouthfeel. Adding granulated sugar straight into your shaker or mixing glass, however, is almost guaranteed to disappoint. In cold liquids and alcohol, sugar has a tough time dissolving properly. Hence the need for liquid sugar, commonly known as simple syrup.

If you've never made simple syrup before, or are intimidated with anything having to do with a stove top, you may be tempted to go out and buy a bottle of simple syrup from the store. Don't. It's typically more expensive pre-made, and drastically limits your flavor and sugar concentration options. We'll walk you through how to make 8 easy & essential simple syrups perfect for your home bar.

Types of Simple Syrup

At its most basic, simple syrup is made using two ingredients: sugar and water. Seriously, that's it! Sugar is dissolved in water in a small pot on the stove top, and then cooled to create a clear and consistently sweet syrup. Here's how to make 8 essential simple syrups.

1. Basic Simple Syrup (1:1)

This is the most common simple syrup you'll come across. It's light and sweet without being cloying. Use this syrup for most drinks where you want to add sweetness and don't mind having a little extra dilution–like sparkling drinks or cocktails served in a collins glass. This syrup is also perfect for sweetening up your coffee or tea!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar

  • 1 cup water

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat on a stove top over medium heat stirring regularly until all of the sugar is dissolved. Cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

2. Rich Simple Syrup (2:1)

Rich 2:1 simple syrup is a syrup made with a ratio of 2 parts sugar to one part water. We love this syrup for stiffer cocktails or drinks where we want to add sweetness without having to worry about diluting it too much. This rich syrup also adds a silkier mouthfeel to any cocktail. Plus, you can use a smaller amount of this concentrated syrup in your drinks.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated white sugar

  • 1 cup water

To make this syrup, combine two cups sugar with one cup water in a small saucepan. Heat on the stove top over medium heat stirring regularly until all of the sugar is dissolved. It's done when all of the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear. Cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

3. Honey Simple Syrup

Honey is an amazing natural sweetener. It's also chock-full of antioxidants and health benefits like easing digestive issues and soothing a sore throat. Since honey on its own is a bit too thick to blend well in a cold cocktail, it's important to thin it out by making a simple syrup. There's also a wide variety of honey available to create unique syrups to enhance your cocktails. Experimenting with different honeys is a great way to introduce floral complexity into your drink.  It's worth checking out your local specialty market or farmer's market to find interesting honeys collected from bees in your area.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup honey

  • ¼ cup hot water

We prefer our honey simple syrup to be rich to avoid diluting the honey flavor too much. We also like making smaller batches of honey syrup since it's easy to make and not as common in recipes as other simple syrups. To make, combine honey and hot water in a small pitcher. Stir until all the honey is dissolved. Cool and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

4. Demerara Simple Syrup

Demerara sugar is a light-amber hued unrefined sugar. It has a toffee like quality to it, and is a great way to add extra depth to cocktails made with bolder spirits like bourbon and rye whiskeys. We even use a little demerara sugar to add rich sweetness to our Hue-Hue Coffee Rum. Speaking of rum, demerara simple syrup is perfect for almost all tiki and tropical drink recipes. This syrup is definitely a must in any home bar setup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup demerara or turbinado sugar

  • 1 cup water

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat on a stove top over medium heat stirring regularly until all of the sugar is dissolved. Cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

5. Vanilla Simple Syrup

Of all ingredients and flavors to be associated with sweets, perhaps none is more common than the ubiquitous vanilla bean. And for good reason! Vanilla is fragrant and enticing, adding a floral and slight warming quality to any dessert, baked good, or beverage it's added to. Vanilla beans are actually the collected pods from vine like orchids grown in remote places of the world. Each "bean" is filled with thousands of small seeds that pack a concentrated punch of flavor. Homemade vanilla syrup is a game-changer for anyone who likes to dabble in home baking. It's also great to have on hand for creating decadent hot chocolates, DIY morning vanilla lattes, and delicious bright cocktails. We love adding vanilla syrup to summery cocktails involving fresh fruit juices and purees.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white granulated sugar

  • 1.5 cup water

  • 1 whole vanilla bean

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove top. With a small paring knife, slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the pulp and seeds, and add them to your saucepan. Place the empty vanilla bean in the airtight jar where you'll keep your syrup. Stir the sugar, water, and vanilla seeds until all of the sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly and transfer the syrup into your airtight jar with the vanilla bean. As the vanilla bean sits in the syrup, more and more flavor will be extracted. Store in the fridge, and use within a month.

6. Rose Simple Syrup

Rose is a powerful scent that when used in moderation can add a delicate floral brightness to simple syrup. We're lucky to call Portland Oregon home, a place where stopping to smell the roses is a real past-time. Our signature Rose City Cocktail combines Burnside Oregon-Oaked Bourbon with a little rose simple syrup to create a cocktail worthy of late summer porch sitting. Try adding this subtly aromatic syrup to cocktails using dark spirits or drinks that call for fresh citrus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 2-3 drops rose water

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat on a stove top over medium heat stirring regularly until all of the sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup cool slightly and add 2-3 drops of rose water. Rose water is commonly available at most grocery stores, and a small bottle will last you a very long time. Once fully cooled, store your syrup in an airtight container in the fridge and use within a month.

7. Chamomile Simple Syrup

Chamomile is another great flavor to experiment with in cocktails. It's incredibly aromatic, and is great for digestion and calming the nerves. It also marries well with fresh citrus and cocktails that call for mint. Sounds like the perfect springtime ingredient to us!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon dried chamomile

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup water

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a slow boil. Reduce heat and add the dried chamomile. Let the chamomile steep in the water for about three minutes, then add sugar. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup mixture cool, then strain syrup into an airtight jar. Store in the fridge and use syrup within one month.

8. Spiced Simple Syrup

By now, it's probably obvious that simple syrup is a great way to extract different flavors and essences you want to add to any culinary project. With all the sugar, spices, and extractable ingredient choices available, your options for simple syrups are nearly limitless! When it comes to spices, the technique for infusing your simple syrup is essentially the same for all spice options. Some of the most common are cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, clove, black pepper,  and star anise. Spiced simple syrups are also perfect for fall and winter cocktails, and add a nice robust depth to drink recipes. Try experimenting with single spices or by creating a mixture of your own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 Tablespoon of roughly ground dried spices

Combine sugar, water, and your spice mixture into a small saucepan. Cook on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring regularly, until all the sugar has dissolved. Let cool slightly and transfer your syrup and spice mixture into an airtight jar. Dried spices need a bit of time to fully infuse into your syrup, so let the mixture sit in your fridge for 1-2 days. Shake and check your syrup daily until you are happy with the flavor of the infusion. Then, strain out your spices and store your filtered syrup in an airtight container for up to one month in the fridge.