Mixology 101 : Simple Syrup

When first confronted by the term simple syrup in a drink recipe, many people are a bit confused.  Is this a brand name?  Will the liquor store or the grocery store have it?  Should I set aside an evening to cook some?

Fortunately, the answer is very simple.  Simple syrup is pure cane granulated sugar dissolved in water, period.  It is used in place of granulated sugar to avoid having unpleasant, undissolved sugar granules in the bottom of a drink.  It also eliminates the need for endless stirring of a cold drink.

It only takes a few minutes to make simple syrup.  In fact, the most time consuming part is waiting for it to cool down before bottling and refrigeration.

1:1 Simple Syrup

1 Part Pure Cane Sugar

1 Part Drinking Water


Firstly, a part can be any unit of volume you want it to be.  It can be an ounce, a cup, a liter, a gallon or an Olympic size swimming pool!  I recommend something on the order of 1 Cup (about 240 ml).  Thus, take 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water and mix them together until the sugar dissolves.

Mixing sugar and water is made easier if you heat the water on the stove and then slowly stir in the sugar.  Also, if you bring the resulting mixture to a near boil, the solution will tend to last longer since you’ve killed any yeast or bacteria with heat.  Let the syrup cool before bottling and then refrigerate.

2:1 Simple Syrup

2 Parts Pure Cane Sugar

1 Part Drinking Water


Follow the directions for 1:1 Simple Syrup.  Note that you will probably have to heat the water to get all of the sugar to dissolve.  Refrigeration will cause the syrup to be very thick, but it will probably not crystallize.

Does boiling the syrup change it chemically?

Short answer, yes.  Heating sugar water tends to break down the Sucrose into simpler sugars.  This isn’t a bad thing, and I think it tastes fine either way.  If you boil syrup very hard or for a long time it takes on a brownish, caramel color.  Again, this isn’t really a bad thing!

It’s just that simple, folks!   – Ray

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