I know as a novice bartender I always immediately clicked away from cocktails that contained a specialized syrup of any kind. I had a "who even has this stuff?!" sort of mentality and it never occurred to me that with things I already had in my kitchen and under 25 minutes... I could? So, armed with a huge bag of sugar and some nice glass bottles from Amazon I was determined to make my own bar basics and a few fancy extras. I hate looking at things like Sour Mix and Grenadine in the store and knowing they're all chemicals. Especially grenadine, most of those are just tasteless corn syrup with a ton of dyes (I won't name names... you know who you are Grenadine-makers).
Things I want to have on hand for regular use include simple syrup, grenadine, honey syrup and sour mix.
For fancier experiments I decided to try ginger peppercorn syrup and the citrus sage syrup from Feast in Thyme.
Stay with me, if you can boil water you can make these happen. I added a teaspoon of neutral grain spirit (plain vodka or Everclear) to help them last longer.
Rich Simple Syrup
You've probably seen it called just simple syrup. Simple syrup is 1 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 cup of water. I like my syrup a bit sweeter so I used 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup turbinado sugar. Mix them together in a small pot and bring them to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for a few minutes to reduce down. Remove from heat, stir in vodka, and cool. Put into a bottle with a lid (or a mason jar works) and leave in the fridge. It lasts a good amount of time.
- 1 cup white sugar - 1 cup turbinado sugar - 1 cup water - 1 tsp vodka
On the list of things I had no clue about - it's long, trust me - most store bought grenadine is just corn syrup and red dye. The actual word Grenadine is from the french word for pomegranate and that's what it's supposed to be. It's basically simple syrup using pomegranate juice (I used Pom because seeding the fruit seems scary).
Mix pomegranate juice and sugar in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching to ensure it doesn't boil over. After 25 minutes remove from heat, and stir in the lemon juice. Once it's cool put it in a sealed jar in the fridge.
- 1 cup pomegranate juice - 3/4 cup granulated sugar - 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Check out this amazing Pomegranate Ginger Fizz Cocktail by Will Cook for Friends (pictured below) if you need inspiration on how to use this delightful stuff.
So recently I wanted to make a very basic whiskey drinks called the Honey Whiskey Fix. It's just whiskey (2 oz), lemon juice (.75 oz) and honey syrup (.75 oz) on the rocks but it appeared to be missing something when I made it with simple syrup. It was good enough that I wanted to try it with the complexity of real honey added into the mix. I was not disappointed and you wont be either. The syrup is simple syrup but with honey.
- 1 cup honey - 1 cup water - 1 tsp vodka
Mix honey and water together in a small pot and bring them to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for a few minutes to reduce. Remove from heat and stir in the vodka, let cool. Bottle and leave in the fridge.
So... tomorrow we will post part 2 of this adventure. We will cover slightly more complex syrups including Sour Mix, Ginger Peppercorn Syrup and Citrus Sage Syrup. Don't worry, I'll also give you hints of what to do with these magic syrups.
Don't be shy to experiment. Mix sugar, water and any flavor you like and let it simmer down. It's as simple as that, I promise! Try it and let me know what you come up with!