There must be valid reasons for buying bottled simple syrup. Such as…you might want the pretty bottle as a keepsake. Or you want the cocktail recipe printed on the label. Or you’re putting together a gift basket for your friend’s home bar. Or…you don’t have a way to boil water.
After that, it’s hard to think of a reason. Simple syrup is one of the easiest things in the world to make, and making your own is cost-effective—the ingredients cost only about 25 cents (with the price of the cheapest bottle of syrup at around $5, that’s a staggering retail markup). Plus, premixed, pre-bottled syrup often has added stabilizers, and if you’re interested in keeping your syrups as, well, simple as possible, homemade is the way to go. Once you’ve made a basic simple syrup, it’s a snap to start making your own flavored syrups for cocktails, coffee and desserts.
How to Make Basic Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Basic simple syrup is just equal parts water and sugar. That’s it. You can make a rich syrup using a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water; it’s more concentrated, but it’s the same process. You can also use brown sugar (which will give a slight molasses flavor to the syrup), demerara sugar (for a caramel-y taste), or honey (for either all or half the sugar). Going the sugar-free route, you can use the same process with Stevia; just know that your “syrup” will be much thinner—more watery than syrupy.
Step 1: Boil
Put the sugar and the water in a small saucepan, stir to combine and then bring to a boil over medium heat. (Some people bring the water to a boil first and then add the sugar, but it doesn’t really matter.)
Step 2: Simmer
Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear. This will take about five minutes.
Step 3: Cool
Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the syrup to cool.
Step 4: Store
Pour the syrup into a lidded glass container and store in the refrigerator. Basic, unflavored simple syrup will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.
See? Couldn’t be simpler. It’s great to have a jar of simple syrup on hand for sweetening drinks both hot and cold (especially cold, so you don’t have to struggle with granulated sugar that stubbornly refuses to dissolve). It’s also a nice little extra drizzled over a bowl of fruit, and a quick fix to a dry cake—just drizzle a bit of syrup over a slice of cake, and let it soak in.