Liquor 101: Simple Syrup Recipe Even Simpler Than You Think
You may have noticed by now that a good number of cocktails call for simple syrup. That’s especially true of summer drinks, and even more especially true of summer pitcher drinks. This can be a little annoying. While the price tag doesn’t compare with the price of the liquor in a cocktail, it does feel oddly high for what it is (sugar and water); and since simple syrup tends to come in small quantities, you might very well find yourself needing to buy two bottles just to make that pitcher of margaritas. There was a time when I felt like I was spending far more than necessary on this basic ingredient, and still constantly running out.
There’s no need to subject yourself to that annoyance. Simple syrup is very easy to make yourself.
I know, boiling syrup feels like a hassle, just enough hassle to nudge me toward buying the syrup instead. It’s hot, and splatters, and takes forever to cool; and it’s harder than you might think to get the consistency right.
But what if I told you that you didn’t even need to boil? That’s what Kevin Liu told me in his superbly nerdy Craft Cocktails at Home (you can also read his article on the topic on Serious Eats), and my relationship with simple syrup was changed forever for the better. Liu points out that all you really need to make simple syrup is sugar + water + time. That’s right, as long as you use an amount of sugar that can be dissolved into the room temperature water you pour it in, just mix the two and wait awhile. Sometimes it might take a shake or two as well. That’s it. Amazing!
Liu uses a 2:1 sugar to water solution, and has to wait about 45 minutes for his sugar and water to become simple syrup. We prefer a 1:1 ratio, and that makes it even quicker.
Simple Syrup Recipe
- 1 unit of water
- 1 unit of sugar
- Combine sugar and water.
2. Stir briskly for a few seconds.
3. Let it settle; if some sugar settles to the bottom, give it another stir.
It’s now ready to use in your drink!
- Only make as much as you’ll need in the immediate future. The one downside of making simple syrup this way is that, without the boiling to kill any germs, it spoils more quickly. Since it takes less than 5 minutes to make more, that doesn’t really matter much, though. Make what you need for now, and make more when you need it. It saves shelf space anyway.
- We found that for some flavor syrups, like our lavender syrup, the boiling method still works best to extract the flavor we’re looking for. In the article to which we linked, Liu does mention some infusions that do work well at room temperature.