What is simple syrup and how do you make it? How do you use it in cocktails?

What is simple syrup?

Simple syrup - sometimes called “sugar syrup” - is a liquid form of sugar used to sweeten drinks and food dishes. As a liquid, it is the preferred way to sweeten cocktails, because it dissolves more quickly and easily into the cold cocktail mixture than solid sugar.

If you are a regular cocktail-maker, or need enough for a big batch of cocktails (if you’re having a party, say), we recommend making a full jar of simple syrup - it will only take 10-15 minutes and you can use it time and again; it will keep in the fridge for a month or so.


How do you make simple syrup?

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It’s very quick, easy and cheap to make simple syrup at home for use in your cocktails! You only need two ingredients and a pan.

Here’s how to make it:

  • Add equal parts sugar and water to a small saucepan over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Do not microwave!

  • Gently stir the mixture until it dissolves and forms a slightly runny syrup that’s about half the original volume.

  • If you do want a thicker syrup, simply simmer the mixture, stirring gently, until the liquid reduces to form the consistency you’re after.

  • Once your syrup is ready, let it cool before adding to your cocktail mixture.

  • Alternatively, if you’re making a large batch, strain it into a jar and seal the lid tightly. Pop it in the fridge - it will keep for about a month.

There are no hard and fast rules about the ratio of sugar to water in your simple syrup - if you want it sweeter, add more sugar!


How do you make flavoured simple syrup?

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It couldn’t be easier to make a delicious flavoured simple syrup that will add a gorgeous dash of flavour - and, sometimes, colour - to your cocktails! Simply add a little of your chosen ingredient to the pan of water and sugar while it’s simmering, then strain the bits out before storing or using.

Here are a few of our favourite ingredients you can use to create a flavoured simple syrup:

  • Fruits: raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, pomegranate, orange

  • Spices: cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla

  • Herbs: rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme

  • Flowers: lavender, rose petals, hibiscus


What drinks can I make with simple syrup?

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You can use your sugar syrup any way you want - about 15ml in a gin and tonic or gin and lemonade will add a gorgeous layer of flavour, colour and sweetness. Play around with the way you best like to use it!

Beyond that, many cocktail recipes suggest using a little simple syrup to add a balancing note of sweetness to the drink, as well as a hint of flavour or colour from any added ingredients.

Here are three easy and delicious gin cocktail recipes using simple syrup to get you started:

  • French 75 - This classic sparkling cocktail combines gin, champagne, lemon juice and simple syrup for an elegant drink with a hidden kick!

  • Rosemary & Thyme Collins - A beautiful sweet-citrus gin cocktail infused with very subtle notes of rosemary and thyme. It’s all the flavours of Provence in a glass!

  • Strawberry gin lemonade - For those that don’t like tonic, this sweet, easy cocktail makes a great alternative