Simple Syrup Is Your Home Bar's Best Friend

Some ingredients really are as easy to make as they claim to be.

Everything You Need to Know About Simple Syrup

Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

The bar cart’s hardest working bottle, simple syrup might be the most-used ingredient when it comes to making cocktails. It rounds out the sharp acid in citrus-based drinks like a Whiskey Sour, adds depth and body to a French 75, and even plays a critical role in a Long Island Iced Tea. While simple syrup made from just sugar and water might not be the most complex sweetener around, it adds balanced sweetness to any cocktail to help it achieve balance. When making drinks at home without a recipe, use simple syrup to follow the Bartender’s Golden Ratio: two parts spirit, one part sour, one part sweet.

Read on for everything you need to know about how to make and use simple syrup. 

How to make simple syrup

Simple syrup is best made in bigger batches. There are two common ways to make it: For the stovetop method, combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil before turning down the heat and simmering until all of the granules are dissolved. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes on the stove, but you’ll need to plan ample time to cool it down to room temperature before adding it into a cocktail. For simple syrup made without a stove, combine a 1-1 ratio of superfine sugar and hot water in a heatproof glass jar. Shake vigorously until the sugar has dissolved. Since the mixture doesn’t come to a boil, it will cool more quickly and be cocktail-ready in just a few minutes. 

How to make rich simple syrup

Some recipes call for rich simple syrup, which is a thicker, sweeter version of the original. To make rich simple syrup, simply dissolve two parts of demerara or granulated sugar in one part water.

How to use simple syrup

Mai Tai Cocktail

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

There are near endless possibilities for using simple syrup. Whether you are adding it to a cocktail—non alcoholic and boozy alike, pouring a splash into a latte or cappuccino, or even using it in a recipe like baklava, simple syrup has a silky texture that is easy to incorporate into a variety of ingredients. Since simple syrup is a little thicker than a liqueur, but thinner than honey, it is important that you give any drink a proper shake or stir when using it. It will melt seamlessly into hot coffee drinks and will blend into iced coffee with a quick stir from a straw. Need more inspiration? A classic Mai Tai, French 75, and Mint Julep all call for simple syrup –– here are 15 cocktails to make with just one batch of simple syrup.

How to store simple syrup 

It's a given that there will be leftovers after making a batch of simple syrup. If stored incorrectly or for too long it's easy for the sugar and water mixture to grow mold. Store simple syrup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. In a glass jar, the mixture can stay in the fridge for about a month, or it can also be frozen. With so many ways to use it, you’ll never go wrong with having a big batch of simple syrup on hand for, you know, emergency cocktails in seconds.    

How to make infused simple syrup

Herb Simple Syrup
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Infusing simple syrup is a great way to add additional flavors to alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, as well as baked goods. Here are a few of our favorite infused simple syrups:

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