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Why buy it when it’s so easy to make? (Photo courtesy Stirrings.)
Granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold beverages. Simple syrup (also called bar syrup, sugar syrup or gomme, the French word for gum) makes it easy to add sweetness to drinks—cocktails, iced tea or iced coffee.
Some people use superfine sugar (check out this nifty flip-top package). Others buy a bottle of premade simple syrup. (There’s also a sugar-free version.)
Or, you can easily make simple syrup—the option bartenders prefer—and keep it on hand.
You can also flavor it with anything from chile and cinnamon to lavender and mint (there’s a Ginger Simple Syrup recipe below that you can use as a template for other flavors).
We make simple syrup on the stove top, stirring sugar and hot water until they combine into a syrup. But you can try this “shaking” technique (but not for most flavored syrup, which requires simmering in hot water).
Both techniques follow.
RECIPE: SIMPLE SYRUP, SHAKEN TECHNIQUE
1. FILL. Using the proportion of 2 parts sugar to three parts water, fill a bottle almost halfway with sugar; add hot water.
2. SHAKE. Cover the top and shake well. Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.
RECIPE: SIMPLE SYRUP, CLASSIC TECHNIQUE
2 parts sugar
1 part water
1. BRING the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly until dissolved completely. (Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or it will be too thick.)
2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken.
3. ADD optional flavor. For vanilla simple syrup, add 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract to cooled sugar syrup. If you want to infuse fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary), simmer them in the hot water for 20 minutes and remove before mixing the water with the sugar.
4. STORE in an airtight container in the fridge or the pantry.
Tired of stirring and stirring until the sugar dissolves? Use simple syrup (photo by Kelly Cline | IST).
The following recipe employs the old-school, cook-it-on-the-stove approach to making simple syrup. Enjoy it in a cocktail or in hot or iced tea.
RECIPE: GINGER SIMPLE SYRUP
1/2 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1. COMBINE ginger, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
2. REMOVE the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the syrup and refrigerate in an airtight container.
Variation: For “adult iced tea,” add 1.5 ounces bourbon or whiskey.
WHY DO THE PROPORTIONS VARY?
Some bartenders use a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water for a thicker syrup. Others prefer a thinner syrup.
Play around with the proportions until you hit on what’s right for you.
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