Homemade syrups and other sweeteners

making homemade syrups from sweeteners

In order to make a syrup we usually need sugar and water in its basic form. Sugar is a necessary ingredient in almost every single cocktail.

The difference between a good drink and a great one is to find a balance of sweetness in comparison to other flavours in a drink.

Also, you want to make syrup out of the sweeteners that you can see below. Because the consistency makes a difference and simply because It’s easier to mix it in your drink.

As we know sugar doesn’t dissolve well in a cold liquid and neither in alcohol. So, when you are sweetening your cocktails use syrup instead.

Sugar comes in different styles with different levels of sweetness and texture:

White Sugar (Crystalize sucrose extracted from sugar beets or sugar cane)

One of the most popular sweeteners used in the food or beverages. It’s cheap, sweet and doesn’t add any extra flavour to your drink.
There are 2 main types of white sugar: granulated sugar (table sugar) and caster sugar(superfine). Caster sugar has slightly smaller crystal size than granulated sugar that makes it easier to dissolve into liquids and other mixtures.

Brown Sugar

Refined white sugar with the addition of molasses which is responsible for richer and deeper flavour than white sugar.

Demerara Sugar

Also known as turbinado sugar with origins in Guyana (formerly known as Demerara). Raw Sugar adding more flavour, hint of caramel and molasses to a drink (rum-based cocktails).

Muscovado Sugar

The Darkest brown sugar with a deep caramel and molasses taste and aroma (tiki cocktails).

Agave Nectar

A nectar made from Agave plant that is also used for a production of tequila and mezcal. It’s sweeter than regular white sugar (tequila and mezcal based cocktails).

Honey

Its flavour and sweetness vary depending on the type of honey. But it’s sweeter than regular sugar with its natural thickness. So dissolving with a bit of water to make Honey Syrup is essential.

Maple Syrup

A syrup made from maple trees providing unique flavour and a great level of sweetness (whiskey based cocktails).

Level of sweetness

It’s important to realise that sweetness in your drink doesn’t come only from basic sweeteners such as those above but also from vermouths, liqueurs or juices.

sweetness of liqueurs, vermouths, syrups

Keep in mind that sweetness can vary depending on the form of sugar, concentration, the presence of other ingredients and the taste differences between ingredients.

graph sweetness of different sweeteners

You should keep in mind that Agave Nectar is the sweetest out of all and Honey is denser although it has a similar level of sweetness in comparison to regular sugar, so we need to use less of it to get the same level of sweetness.

Homemade Syrups

Making Simple Syrup

Simply combine water and sugar on the saucepan and let it simmer until the sugar dissolves.
Ratios – 1:1 Water to Sugar – Steady flow of syrup that can be mixed with other ingredients quicker.
2:1 Rich Simple Syrup – Better texture of drink that will last longer but you have less control over the sweetness. Although the ratio is 2:1 rich simple syrup is 1.5x sweeter than regular simple syrup this is something to be aware of.

Preserving syrup

You can extend the shelf life by making rich simple syrup 2:1, adding a spoon of alcohol and keeping it in the refrigerator it will last up to 3-6 months.

Flavoured syrups

Adding extra flavour
For flavoured syrups, it’s important to extract as much flavour and colour as possible using different methods. Flavoured syrup has also the advantage of preserving flavours of fresh ingredients.

Fruit Syrups

  1. Firstly, simmer fruit in water
  2. Filtrate through the coffee filter
  3. Add sugar

This way you can better control the sweetness of the final product and it’s easier to filter just fruit juice with water.

Herb Syrup

You can make the syrup by a cooking technique called blanching to avoid syrup turning dark when it gets in contact with air.

  1. Firstly, bring water to boil
  2. Take your herbs (with stalk) and blanch them in water for a couple of seconds
  3. Remove herbs and put them in ice cold bath (prepared ahead) for a minute 
  4. Dry them with paper towel
  5. Remove the leaves and blend them with pre-made syrup
  6. Strain it out and bottle

Spices and Nuts

  1. Blend them firstly to make a powder
  2. Mix with a mineral water and let it sit for a couple of hours
  3. Strain water int a saucepan and mix with a sugar on the low heat until it dissolves.

Other Syrups

There are some other ingredients that we can’t include in any of the groups above because they need some extra care when making syrup out of them.

Demerara syrup

Combine 2 parts of Demerara sugar with 1 part of water in the saucepan, cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

Honey Syrup

Combine 2 parts of Honey with 1 part of the hot water in the container, stir and shake the ingredients until mixed properly. 

Ginger Syrup

Use 500g of fresh ginger to extract juice using a juicer (you can also cook finely grated ginger but it makes less intense ginger flavour), combine with 480ml of water and 500g caster sugar in the saucepan on the low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Rhubarb Syrup

Firstly, extract juice from 800g of rhubarb using a juicer (rhubarb can be also cooked using the same recipe), combine with 450 ml water and 500g caster sugar in the saucepan on the low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Vanilla Syrup

Firstly, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and put it in the saucepan add 2 parts of water and 2 parts of sugar, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it infuse overnight, then strain through the cheesecloth.

Lavender Syrup

In the saucepan combine 30g of dried lavender, 500ml of water and 500 g caster sugar, simmer on the medium heat until the sugar dissolves then let it cool and infuse for a couple of hours. Strain through the fine-mesh sieve and bottle.

Quinine syrup

15g cinchona bark powder, 20g citric acid, zest of 3 limes, zest of 3 lemons, zest of 1 grapefruit, 3 stalks of chopped lemongrass, 9 whole allspice berries, 20g of dried lavender, pinch of sea salt, 400g cane sugar, 500ml water
Bring to the boil all ingredients (except the cane sugar) and let it simmer for 30 minutes on the low heat, double strain through the coffee filter, then mix with cane sugar, let it cool and bottle.

Orgeat Syrup (Almond Syrup)

Blend 500g of almonds in the blender to make a powder then combine with 750ml of water, 10ml of orange blossom water in the large bowl and let it infuse overnight. Then strain the almond mix through the cheesecloth into the saucepan and add 700g of sugar, cook on the medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

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