Oftentimes when I’m at home making a cocktail it goes like this: Ice, Spirit, maple syrup, lemon or lime.
Do I use maple syrup because I am the archetypal Northwoods woman who maybe buys it in bulk and maybe has gone full on Elf at one point and poured it on noodles? (To be fair, there was also tahini and miso involved, I’m not completely mad.)
Sure. But I also do it because I’m lazy and sometimes I don’t want to make simple syrup after spending my workday making things that two short years ago I had never even heard of: Oleo Saccharum. Orgeat. Onmoraki.
But you, my dear reader, you are not lazy! (Or even if you are, you probably didn’t spend your workday making Oleo Saccharum, and therefore hopefully still have some energy that you can direct towards combining sugar and water.) Which is why I think you’ll be glad to take a few minutes to put together some simple syrup for your home bar, your iced teas and coffee. Simple syrup is a bonafide summer staple and a perfect building block for so many great cocktails. And once you commit the “recipe” to memory, it is infinitely and entertainingly customizable.
Hey, remember that list of vaguely unpronounceable cocktail ingredients two paragraphs back? Well that last one is actually a Folkloric Japanese bird demon that I threw in to make this point: It’s totally OK to be a little baffled by cocktail ingredients these days. We get a lot of folks in the cocktail room that sheepishly ask what bitters are (to quote Emily Vikre “salt and pepper for cocktails”) or where to buy simple syrup (Do NOT buy simple syrup. Hence this article.) Great cocktails can be had at home with an exceptional base spirit (ahem, Vikre, ahem) and just a few basic ingredients. Here’s one to get you started and some ideas for gilding the lily.
· 1 part water
· 1 part sugar (white or brown depending on what flavor you’re aiming for)
Heat and stir till sugar dissolves then cool and store in fridge. (One cup water and one cup sugar will yield about 1 ½ cup simple syrup and generally speaking should keep for a month refrigerated.)
That’s it! It IS simple.
To this you can add any number or combinations of flavorings by adding them to the hot syrup and letting them steep until cool (or overnight if you want a stronger flavor) then straining or plucking them out.
Some ideas for things you can steep in your simple syrup:
- Citrus Peels
- Cinnamon Stick
- Vanilla Bean
- Jasmine tea
- Earl grey tea
Now make that drink! May I suggest…
For one serving
· ¾ oz Simple syrup (infused or plain)
· ¾ oz Fresh lemon or lime juice
· 2 oz Spirit of choice
You can build this in a glass over ice and either give it a good stir to dilute it a bit or top it up with soda water. You could also shake it (a mason jar works for this if you haven't been to our cocktail room to buy a fancy yet indestructible weighted shaking tin and a Hawthorne strainer.) and then strain into a coupe or martini glass.
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