Basic Cooking: How to Make Simple Syrup
We’re kicking off our Basic Cooking series with a toast! (The makings of a toast, to be more precise.)
Simple syrup is gloriously useful stuff. It’s one of the building blocks of many cocktails—from classic to contemporary—and, really, it couldn’t get any simpler to make.
Also known as “sugar syrup,” “simple sugar syrup,” and “bar syrup,” it’s quite literally sugar water. It can also be used as the basis for flavored syrups.
Why bother making simple syrup?
Keeping a bottle of simple syrup on hand allows you to make sweetened drinks on the fly—without worrying about whether your sugar has dissolved completely.
What can I do with simple syrup?
Great question. Use it to make dozens of classic libations, or:
+Sweeten freshly brewed iced tea, coffee, lemonade, or limeade
+Stir into hot oatmeal
+Drizzle a little over freshly cut fruit
+Mix with seltzer and crushed berries for a refreshing and non-alcoholic spritzer
Making simple syrup is about as basic as it gets
Most traditional recipes for simple syrup combine one part sugar and one part water. (Some recipes call for two parts sugar to one part water.) Just bring the mixture to a boil, then cool it and use at your leisure.
Almost all bars have a bottle or two of this on hand. I make a batch and stash it on the door of the fridge. It keeps for a long time, and is great to have on hand for spur-of-the-moment cocktail inspiration.
What kind of equipment do I need to make simple syrup?
You’ll need a medium-sized saucepan, a whisk, and a funnel. You’ll also need an empty bottle with a tight-fitting cap or cork to store your syrup once it’s cooled.
I use an old Johnnie Walker Black bottle that I washed out with a little soap and rinsed thoroughly. I like it because the rectangular shape is fairly space efficient in our fridge.
An empty wine bottle—or even a large canning jar—would work well, too. Just make sure it’s clean, and pick a size and shape that won’t get in the way.
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups water
Put the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan.
Stir the sugar around with a whisk and break up any lumps.
Add the water.
Whisk well to combine.
Set the pot on the stove over high heat. Bring the mixture up to a boil, whisking frequently to dissolve the sugar as the water heats up.
As the water heats up, the sugar will almost completely dissolve.
Before it comes to a boil, you should notice that there are still a few, stray sugar crystals on the bottom of the pot.
Bring the mixture up to a full, rolling boil.
Let the mixture boil, uncovered, for 1 minute.
After a minute, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the heat.
At this point, you can toss in some fresh ginger, orange/lemon peel, cloves, peppercorns, etc. for a flavored syrup, if you like.
Let the syrup cool in the pot, uncovered, until it’s at room temperature.
When the syrup has cooled, you’re ready to bottle it.
If you’ve added any flavorings, fish them out now with a slotted spoon.
Set a funnel in the mouth of a clean bottle.
Carefully pour the syrup through the funnel and into the bottle.
Cap your bottle and pop it into the fridge.
What’s your favorite cocktail?
And how about you? What would you use this stuff for?
Now it’s up to you to see what kind of concoction you can whip up. Enjoy! (And cheers!)
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