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How to Make Sugar Syrups

Ian Shapiro


Sugar syrups are used in many cocktails today to sweeten the cocktails.


Using ingredients such as fresh lemon or lime juice can make drinks a bit too sharp, and needs to be mellowed by its counterpart.  Sugar syrups come in a huge variety of flavours (as you may have seen in your local coffee shop) but they don't stop at vanilla latte’s or caramel cappuccino’s.  They’re only restricted by your imagination. Try making it, and adding it to your cuppa at home.


Combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water in a pan. Heat on a medium heat, stirring constantly to ensure the sugar does not caramelize. Simmer, do not boil. Once all the sugar has dissolved, pass the syrup through a fine tea strainer to remove any potentially un-dissolved sugar crystals that may encourage crystallization. This syrup lasts for ages if kept in a sterile bottle in the fridge.


It is possible to use different types of sugar for different cocktails: Demerara sugar works well with bourbon and muscovado or palm sugar work well with Bermudan rum.


To make vanilla syrup add 1 split vanilla pod to the mix before heating, and leave in. The seeds add interest to the look of the syrup. For cinnamon syrup, use cinnamon sticks not cassia bark, and remove after heating to prevent bitter flavours developing. Practically any flavour can be used: black pepper, almonds and even sweet potato have been used.


This is much cheaper than commercial gomme syrup, and can be made in different flavours. (The only difference between this and gomme is that gomme contains about 0.5% gum Arabic. If you want to add gum (for smoother mouth-feel) this can be bought very cheaply from Asian grocers, but most people will not be able to tell the difference).


For those that really take things seriously...For slightly thicker syrup with some foaming qualities add about 10% malt dextrin (a flavorless complex sugar) before heating. Malt dextrin can be bought by the bucket from homebrew shops, and is used to give beer a head. This syrup is particularly good for preventing the foam on sours from collapsing.


So try your own sugar syrup in your next cocktail, and let us know what different infusions you create.  You may very well create the next big taste in cocktail making