Syrup. That oozy, sweet, slow flowing liquid you find yourself smothering your pancakes and waffles with on a Sunday morning. Similarly, I find myself doing the same on a Friday night. However, mine is not on a starchy treat. It is cocktail syrup and it's being poured in to a cocktail jigger and mixed in to a lovely cocktail to sip on.
Yes, the world of cocktail syrup is vast and oh so sweet. And if you have not experimented with the variety of craft cocktail syrups the world has to offer, then your cocktails are truly missing out. Why you ask? The answer is simple. Syrup producers put their blood, sweat and tears in to their syrups (no, not seriously), and the final product is worth the effort. Cocktail syrups allow you to access flavors that are far superior to their basic, simple cocktail counterparts.
In a world of abundant variety it puts a new twist on cocktails you have had for years. So let's explore this ocean of cocktail syrup, and sea what it can offer us.
This is the basic bitch of the cocktail syrup world and one that you should never buy in store. It's sugar water. One part sugar to one part water. Boil water. Mix in sugar. Let cool and place in fridge. And ta-da! you have the most commonly used syrup and a staple for every bartender to have at their disposal. I suggest you make some of this right now and have a squeeze bottle ready to go for all your cocktail needs.
Simply put, a majority of cocktail recipes will call for a sweetening agent and because simple syrup is already in liquid form, it is a pleasure to mix in to any of your drinks (works well for iced coffee and other drinks as well!). The reason you want this at all times is because it is a pain in the butt to have to make it each time for just a cocktail or two.
Instead, when you want to whip up a Whiskey Sour, take your 2oz of bourbon, 1oz of lime juice, your 1oz of simple syrup, egg white if you like foam and build it in your cocktail shaker. Shake it out and serve on the rocks. Boom. Simple as your simple syrup and since you had it on hand, it was an easy cocktail to make.
So make this. Keep it in your fridge (can keep for 2-3 weeks). And it can be your excuse to have a few more cocktails before it goes bad!
Slightly more advanced than sugar and water. You will find flavored cocktail syrups at a bartenders disposal and you can equip your home bar with it as well. Yes you can make flavored syrup (and we suggest you try so you can appreciate the craft) but it's likely not something you will do all the time. Time can be better spent making the cocktails in many people's minds. However, there is something to be said about some who can create their own inventive syrup and thus create a cocktail never tasted by man. Expert mixing of fruits, herbs, spices and distilling the flavor in to a bottle of cocktail syrup is the game. If these aspirations burn in your heart then we invite you to give it a go.
But, if you are like many, you are too lazy for that ish. We are too. That's why we want to introduce you to a few syrups we like to use, what to use them with and why.
The obvious choice for a remarkable Gin & Tonic. Stray away from the simple version of gin mixed with Schweppes or Canada Dry. You will notice a drastic difference in flavor when using syrup. With many choices in the artisanal tonic syrup industry it's hard to decide which kind to try. Each company has their own recipe using different ingredients and methods. We suggest you take a look at this article here and get an idea of what's available.
Each company will also have their recommendation on how to use their syrup. However, most recipes boil down to something along these lines. 1-1.5oz tonic syrup to 4oz cold club soda. Mix well with your favorite gin, bitters and garnish. Have a few bottles of tonic syrup in your home bar and you will always be ready to serve up a fantastic G&T.
If you love ginger like we do then you need to get your hands on a bottle of ginger syrup. The spicy, earthy flavor is intense and perfect for mixing with citrus flavors. With many ginger based drinks gaining popularity, the recipes for this syrup are plentiful. Pimm's Cup, the Dark and Stormy, and the Moscow Mule probably ring a bell. However, if you have tried making any of these at home you likely know that regular ginger ale wont cut it.
A good quality ginger beer will do the trick. But if you don't have any readily available – we suggest grabbing some ginger syrup and club soda as an excellent substitute. Much more practical and cost effective but equally delicious alternative. Replace any recipes calling for ginger beer by mixing up your own. A typical syrup will call for 1oz ginger syrup to 3oz club soda.
Sour Mix Syrup
We all know how important sour flavor is when it comes to our cocktails. The combination of sweet and sour just compliments each other so nicely and gives has a refreshingly tart flavor. When it comes to citrus in a cocktail, fresh is always best. The freshly squeezed lime, lemon or grapefruit juice is simply untouchable. But I will also say that squeezing those fruits can be a hassle when making drinks for guests at home. And if you are going to instead use lime juice concentrate from a grocery store, consider going one step above in quality and try a sour mix syrup.
Craft cocktail syrup makers have been pumping out a syrup that finds a perfect balance between sweet and sour then pre-mixes it for you in a convenient bottle. They use a variety of citrus from the likes of lemon, lime and yuzu. Just take a couple ounces of this and you have a versatile mixer to keep along with your tonic and ginger syrup.
Any cocktail that calls for citrus juice and simple syrup means you can likely use a sour mix syrup instead with high confidence. Just replace the simple syrup and lime juice with an ounce or so of good quality sour mix. Taste, and be amazed what a top syrup maker can do for you.
Cocktail Syrup All Boiled Down
When it comes to cocktail mixing we can be overwhelmed by the amount of ingredients needed and the options available. For many it's a lot of work and perhaps beer and wine are the easier option (nothing wrong with that!). To make life easier, cocktail syrup and mixers were born. These syrups can be so inventive and fresh, it was as if we had a bartender stirring it up beside us as we prep our glasses.
So we suggest you clear out a little space in your cabinet. Save that space for cocktail syrups today, and for the collection of cocktail tools, ingredients and spirits you will learn about in the future through our cocktail blog.