Friday (Non) Liquor Spotlight #17: Simple Syrups!

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Happy Friday, everyone!

We wanted to take a little time today to go back to basics and give a bit of a refresher course on the ever-important creation of simple syrup and its many siblings.

This sweet addition can often make or break a drink, so it is important that we take the time to get everyone on the same page.

Ready?

Before we get started, a reminder of the basic simple syrup recipe:

Take equal parts superfine sugar and water, and place in an air-tight container. Shake until all the sugar has dissolved.

Now, to keep this simple, we are going to give you the top three rules of making and using simple and flavored syrups.

1.)

First things first, never, ever, purchase pre-made simple syrup from the store. Why not? Oh, so many reasons. First, they often add preservatives or other additives into pre-bottled simple syrup in order to make it keep longer or use other forms of sugar (not sucrose) to make it, which you do not want. Second, knowing the water-to-sugar balance in simple syrup is essential so that you get the right amount of sweetness when you follow recipes–if you buy something in a bottle you have no idea if it is 50/50 sugar-to-water, 75/25, 30/70 or something else, and therefore have no idea how much to actually use in your drinks to maintain the right balance. And the last reason you should not be buying pre-made simple syrup? Because it is an enormous waste of money! A basic 12 oz bottle will run you about $6 at the liquor store. Whereas a 5 lb bag of sugar? That is about $3, and you can make WAY more than 12 oz of simple syrup with that. Why are you paying for a label and a glass bottle? Don’t. It is totally useless.

2.)

When you are making basic simple syrup, you do not ever need to heat / cook it. A lot of simple syrup recipes will tell you that you need to combine the sugar and water on the stove and simmer it before use. This is total BS. When you are dealing with flavored syrups, yes, you do need to use a stove. But simple syrup? Nope. Not at all. It will actually negatively alter the syrup if you cook it because the sucrose will break down into other forms of sugar from the heat. Also, it takes at least an hour from start to finish, often more, to cook and cool syrup before use. If you just use the recipe we gave above, that stuff is ready in about 30 seconds. Why wait?!

3.)

Like we mentioned above, making flavored syrups is a bit more labor intensive. When making these syrups, there are just a few simple rules to follow. The basic flavored syrup recipe is as follows: combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan, add in whatever you are using to flavor the syrup (cinnamon sticks, ginger, lemon peel, thyme, vanilla bean, mint leaves etc) and then simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.   By 15 minutes, the syrup should be fragrant. Take it off the heat and let it cool completely, with whatever flavoring you are using still steeping, and then move it to an air-tight container for storage. Flavored and simple syrups can last for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. We love experimenting with flavoring our syrups–the sky really is the limit here and using these to make new drinks can totally change the game. Just remember to use fresh ingredients when you make your syrups: cinnamon sticks (not ground cinnamon), fresh chopped ginger (not from a jar!), fresh mint leaves, real vanilla beans, etc etc etc.

So there you have it! Some in-depth, behind-the-scenes know-how about the wonderful world of sugary syrups. Test some out this weekend!

Have a great weekend everyone, drink responsibly, and we will see you on Monday!

Cheers!

 

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