Cocktails are exciting. I often see an interesting cocktail list as the mark of a restaurant that I will like. It has inspired me to try making more cocktails at home, like this rhubarb elderflower champagne cocktail, or this New York sour.
But it always seems like every cocktail requires some specialty ingredients that I don’t have. A weird variety of bitters, a liquor I’ve never heard of and have to look up. And even though I would love to have all these things on hand, I won’t buy a 750 mL bottle of something to make one drink.
But there’s one thing that many cocktails have that is super simple to make on your own and to make your own, and that’s simple syrup.
Simple syrup is traditionally equal parts sugar and water heated until dissolved. This works great to sweeten cocktails so that you don’t have grains of sugar crunching in your teeth as you drink. But it’s also a base for any other type of flavoring you can think of. How about a black pepper simple syrup paired with gin and cucumber juice? I can think of a boulevardier that would be interesting with this orange and anise simple syrup. And this oolong tea simple syrup makes a nice addition to the ever-growing trend of tea cocktails.
And all you have to do to make all of these and more is to infuse your simple syrup after it dissolves. To do this, you throw in your ingredient of choice (black peppercorns, tea leaves, orange zest and star anise), cover, and wait. The longer you let the mixture infuse, the stronger the flavour will be. Anywhere from one hour to overnight can work.
Simple and versatile. Keep an eye out for some drinks made with these beauties soon!
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Flavoring of your choice (optional)
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Continue to heat until the mixture starts to boil. Add in the flavoring of your choice and let boil for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover, and let the flavours infuse for 1 hour to overnight.
Zest of one orange
Zest of one lemon
Whole spices (star anise, peppercorns, cinnamon)
Herbs (rosemary, mint, thyme)
Flowers (Lavender, hibiscus)