A well-made cocktail just wouldn't be complete without a bit of sugar (not to mention, it's great in iced tea and other chilled drinks, too). Sweetness gives any cocktail a well-rounded character, ensuring it's not too bitter, too sour or just too strong. But you can't just add sugar to a drink by the spoonful -- it won't dissolve properly or incorporate well. That's when the simple syrup comes in -- it's a necessity for every bartender. And it's not something that has to be bought, because it's incredibly easy to make. Plus simple syrups need not be limited to just sugared water -- you can flavor them with almost anything. We're here to show you how it's done.
Finding The Perfect Ratio
A basic simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. Basically, you combine the two ingredients in a small pot and heat to a simmer to dissolve. Chill it and you've got a simple syrup for sweetening cocktails and other drinks. Some bartenders prefer a sweeter syrup, which they've coined "rich simple syrup" -- it's a 2:1 sugar to water ratio. With it, you can use less syrup to get the desired sweetness. Another syrup you can try is a lightly sweetened kind, a 1:2 sugar to water ratio. It's especially great for sweetening iced teas, lemonades or soda water. Besides using white sugar, you can can also make a simple syrup with brown sugar or raw sugar to add a hint of molasses flavor to your drinks.
Experimenting With Flavor
A simple syrup doesn't have to stop there -- you can flavor it with herbs, fruits and even vegetables. You could even make a simple syrup flavored with rose petals if you really wanted to. Flavored syrups add a unique touch to drinks and they're a great way to reinterpret a classic cocktail with a new flavor. Try a Mojito made with basil-lime syrup or a Margarita made with orange-thyme syrup. See all the unique flavors we've come up with in the slideshow below. This is just the beginning -- you can get as crazy as you want with your simple syrups.
What simple syrup flavor would you create? Tell us below.
See also: Everything's Better With Bitters
Main image courtesy of Dinner Series, Flickr.