Syrups & Such

Simple Syrup

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.

White Syrup
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.

Brown Syrup
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 Syrup
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.

Flavored

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:

Hot Method
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.

Cold Method
Wash your flavoring item and cover it completely with rich simple syrup.  Let stand overnight, then strain out the solids.

Tea Method
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.


Grenadine

1 part (2 cups) Pure Pomegranate Juice (POM or other brand)
2 parts (4 cups) Sugar
French Orange Flower Water
Rose Water

Steps:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

“Preserved” Lime Syrup v0.1

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

Steps:

  1. 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.
  2. Prepare a 1:1 cane sugar syrup
  3. 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.

Advocaat

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

Preparation:

  1. Beat the egg yolks, salt and sugar until thickened.
  2. Slowly trickle in the brandy, while still beating.  (The mixture will thin again)
  3. 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).
  4. It is important to be patient here. If it boils, the alcohol will evaporate.
  5. 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).
  6. Now remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk through the vanilla extract.
  7. 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).

Storage

To keep any syrup for many months, add an ounce of vodka and store in the fridge.

51 Responses to “Syrups & Such”

  1. Steven
    October 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Could you be more specific on your recipe for grenadine? I plan to try it, but I don’t know how much grenadine you plan on adding 6 drops ea. of orange flower water and rose water to. 16oz? 8 oz?

    • October 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

      I’ll clarify that, but it’s 16oz of juice and 4 cups of sugar. You may need to adjust the orange and rose water — it’s really about finding the balance point where those flavors change the mix from being just pomegranate but are still secondary.

  2. November 15, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Great site! The homemade syrup recipes are an awesome starting point…thanks! Theresa

  3. Hugh Williams
    December 14, 2010 at 5:21 am #

    On the subject of simple sugar syrup (capallaire is the trade term), distillers and soft drink manufacturers would not use ordinary white sugar as it contained a blueing agent to make it whiter in its dried form. This agent would give a slight blueish haze on dissolving. Instead,they purchased the specification ‘pure white cane sugar without blue’. I’m sure this is available in the U.S. It costs slightly more than ordinary sugar. The resultant syrup is bright and clear and has excellent keeping qualities.

    • December 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

      Hugh — thanks for the insight. I had never heard that, but now I need to do some research on the “without blue” sugar.

  4. onethoughttoomany
    July 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Hi 12 Bottles,

    Was wondering if you could give some guidance as to what to use to store the various syrups. I was deciding between glass, sealed jars and plastic squeeze bottles. Which is the worse issue to deal with, the inability to squeeze the former or the lack of true airtightness with the latter?

    Thanks!

    • July 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

      I used a combination of old Lorina bottles, ball glass jars, tupperware, and pyrex measuring cups, depending on what I can get my hands on. When I use squeeze bottles, I’ll put a piece of cling wrap over the mouth before screwing on the spout.

  5. October 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Any particular reason for using French orange flower water in the grenadine?  I’m thinking of making some, but I will probably buy the ingredients at my local arabic market.  Is there something different about French orange flower water that I should look for?

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