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How To make Sugar Syrup...And Why You Need It

How To make Sugar Syrup...And Why You Need It

Sugar syrup is a must for any budding cocktail-maker, it is simple to make and can be used in heaps of different drinks!

Sugar is to a bartender as salt is to a chef.

It may sound like a cliche but it’s true - the managed sweetness of any cocktail is the perfect way of determining how good a cocktail you’re drinking or creating. Whether you use natural sugars or processed, sweetness in a cocktail (or the lack thereof) is one of the signatures of a drink.

A huge list of cocktails call for an extra kick of sugar and the vast majority of those call for some type of sugar syrup. If you’re new to the cocktail game (just taken our awesome cocktail course or just about to?) then you might be thinking what is sugar syrup and how do I get/make it?

Very good questions young padawan! Sugar syrup is the easiest way of adding sugar to a drink - it is simply a combination of sugar and water - it keeps in the fridge and you can add all kinds of flavours to make a more distinct syrup.

There are many, many types of sugar syrup that you could potentially make (or buy, if you’re lazy) so we’ll try and get some of the terminology out of the way.

If a recipe calls for sugar syrup, simple sugar syrup or gomme that is the simplest form of sugar syrup you can make. This simple syrup is equal parts water and granulated sugar and for the best results should be made in a pan on heat.

Pour in the desired amount of water into the hot pan and allow to simmer. Pour in the same amount of granulated sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Take it off the heat and let it cool before putting it in your cocktail! You can keep this behind the bar or in the fridge and it’ll keep too!

To be honest, that is the main syrup you’ll ever have to use unless you want to experiment with something a little bit more adventurous.

Different sugars give different properties with the same measurements used. If you use demerara sugar for instance, you’ve got demerara syrup - which adds a rich, caramel flavour to a drink. Use the same 1:1 ration and you’re away.

You can make a sweeter syrup by using (you guessed it) more sugar. If you use a 2:1 sugar to water ration, then you've got a sweetened syrup which some call a rich simple syrup and use instead of a sugar cube in an Old Fashioned.

If you prefer a natural flavour, you can do the same with honey. Honey adds great flavour to many a drink but dolloping it straight into the cocktail shaker is a pain to measure (and a pain to clean). If you add the honey to simmering water and stir, you get the gorgeous honey flavour without the annoying honey viscosity.

The world is your syrup-y oyster! If you add a handful of quartered strawberries to the mix, you’ve got strawberry syrup. If you squeeze in the juice of lemon with a little bit of zest, you’ve got lemon syrup. You can add anything and see what flavour you get from it and how well it goes with a drink.

With summer just around the corner (hurry up summer!!) we’ll give you three recipes that use a simple syrup and are perfect for the warmer weather!


  • 60ml White Rum
  • 30ml Lime Juice
  • 15 ml Sugar Syrup

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and give a good shake. Rub a slice of lime on the lip of a martini or cocktail glass and dip in sugar for a sweet coating.

Strain mixture into the glass and serve with a slice of lime as a garnish.

Gin Rickey

  • 45ml Gin
  • 15ml Lime Juice
  • 15ml Sugar Syrup
  • 60ml Soda Water

A forgotten classic!

Add ice to a collins glass and allow to chill. Pour in gin, sugar syrup and lime juice before stirring with a bar spoon. Top up with soda water and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Amaretto Sour

  • 60ml Amaretto
  • 30ml Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Sugar Syrup

This drink could not be easier. Pour the ingredients into an old fashioned glass filled with ice. Add a maraschino cherry and a slice of lemon for a garnish if you want and then drink!

Next time you look at a cocktail menu and it mentions some outlandish syrup listed among the ingredients don’t bow down in wonder. Try it yourself at home, as it really isn’t as difficult as it sounds!

If you want to learn everything there is no know about cocktails, check out our cocktail course and other hospitality courses to kick start your career behind the bar!

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