There is really nothing simpler than learning how to make sugar syrup, and what’s more, it’s the easiest way to transform an average cocktail into something pretty spectacular. Follow this simple guide.
Shaken into an Espresso Martini, a minty Mojito or a Flat White Russian, sugar syrups add sweetness (and flavour, if infusing them) to cocktails without bitty granules of undissolved sugar to ruin them.
Sugar syrup is, simply, sugar and water. There are many ways to make a sugar syrup but as a general rule, it’s a process of mixing water with sugar and heating it gently so that the sugar dissolves. Depending on what you’re making, you might decide to increase the sugar-to-water ratio if you want a thicker syrup, or decrease it if you want a thinner syrup. The former is best if making syrups for cocktails, the latter better for cakes.
How to make flavoured sugar syrups
Infusing a sugar syrup might sound quite cheffy but it isn’t. Add herbs, chillies, spices or citrus to your syrup and leave them there to steep so the syrup takes on their flavour. It’s an easy way to add delicious depth to your cocktails.
Thyme syrup is a wonderful pairing with gin and ginger beer in this fizzy concoction, for example. Make a mint syrup for your next mojito, while a spicy chilli syrup will give your drinks a fiery kick. Pair rosemary syrup with vodka, fresh lemon juice and a soda top, or add a zesty grapefruit syrup to your next gin cocktail. Sugar syrup can add great depth of flavour to mocktails too. Shake up a cardamom or star anise syrup with Seedlip Citrus and serve with tonic and a twist of grapefruit for a grown-up cocktail without the hangover.
If you’re throwing a party, make a few different infused sugar syrups in advance. You’ll be thankful for these handy bottles of ready-made flavour, which you can shake into cocktails without having to faff around with different ingredients once your guests have arrived.
How to make sugar syrup
Step 1. Add one cup of water to a pan over a medium heat. Stir in two cups of sugar and stir. If you want a thinner syrup, go for a ratio of one part water to one part sugar.
Step 2. Bring it to a gentle simmer until the sugar has dissolved completely. If it appears too thin, you can continue simmering over a very low heat until thickened to a syrupy consistency. If it’s too thick, add more water to your liking.
Step 3. At this point you can simply leave it to cool and use it, or you could add herbs, chilli, citrus or spices to infuse. Add your chosen ingredient while your syrup cools and leave to steep for 10 to 30 minutes, or longer, depending on how strong you want the flavour. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Step 4. That’s it! Store in a clean bottle in the fridge for up to six months.
Next time you’re out of icing sugar, don’t bother running to the shops. Here’s how you make it from scratch (it’s really easy). Make your own infused olive oils, from chilli to sage, to take your cooking up a notch, or check out the rest of our step-by-step DIY Pantry guides, from making yoghurt to kombucha.