Thursday, October 6th, 2005

Simple Syrups

What I love most about simple syrups, is that they really are just that: Simple. Ridiculously easy to make, they keep for a long time and are worlds better than commercially made flavoring. So why isn’t everyone making simple syrups?

PERSONAL RANT: On another note, why do flavored vodkas even exist? I recently had a drink made with Absolut Raspberri and thought it was the most disgusting thing to have passed my lips in a long while. It tasted artificial and fake and absolutely nothing like raspberry. And please don’t even get me started on that “Vanil” (a.k.a. nasty scented candle) flavor…

So I’m here to encourage everyone to make their own flavored simple syrups. It’s this simple:

1. Put three cups of water in a pot.
2. Add two cups of sugar and give it a stir.
3. Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil for a minute.
4. Remove from heat and toss in desired flavorings.
5. Let steep until cool and then strain into a clean container.

Voilà. Keep it in the fridge for up to 3 months. Add 1-2 tablespoons to any alcoholic drink, or even just plain carbonated water.

Last weekend B & I made a bunch of simple syrups for an Asian-themed party we were attending. We went to Uwajimaya in search of inspiration and walked out with: an English cucumber, a package of Vietnamese mint, lemongrass stalks, limes and a package of huckleberries.

The cucumber simple syrup was flat out amazing. All we did was peel the cucumber and then cut it into 1/4 inch pieces for steeping. Everyone who tasted it asked for the recipe. And then didn’t believe me when I told them how easy it was.

The mint simple syrup was awful, but only because we didn’t realize that Vietnamese mint isn’t really mint. We made a quick replacement batch using two mint and two peppermint teabags. Mint tea simple syrup is my old standby and is fantastic in drinks.

For the lemon grass, we simply sliced it into thin rounds for steeping. This syrup turned out light and fruity. It was too delicate for complex drinks, but it was perfect with just vodka and soda.

The lime simple syrup was made with the zest of four limes, plus the juice of one lime. We were testing out my new microplane zester and got a little over-zealous… we ended up with too much pith, so the syrup was bitter. We labeled it “bitter lime” and passed it off as bitters with flying colors.

Our last syrup was made from huckleberries. It was a beautiful color and had a wonderful, lush and fruity flavor. Worlds better than Absolut Raspberri.

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16 Responses to “Simple Syrups”

  1. missginsu says:

    I’m soooo down with this sentiment. Ginger syrup, pepper vodka, limoncello, raspberry coulis… all are stunningly easy to make, store well and are ever-so impressive in cocktails, desserts, etc. Too often people pay too much for such niceties and get too little in return. sigh

  2. katy says:

    That’s such a great way to store them too! I just made a ginger lemon syrup last week … let’s just say many many martinis were had …

  3. Kevin says:


    Thanks for the post. I used to keep one or two syrups in the fridge, but haven’t in several years. Time to start again. And I’ll definitely try the cucumber.

  4. stef says:

    your cucumber simple syrup sounds intriguing and i think i know what i’m making this weekend. i did try the lemongrass one you recommended before and loved it.

  5. megwoo says:

    Miss Ginsu,
    I’m so glad to hear you feel the same way!

    I’ve never made limoncello before, but now I’m very interested… do you happen to have a favorite recipe you could share??

  6. megwoo says:

    That’s great! Ginger and lemon sounds like a fantastic combination. And martinis are always a good thing.

  7. megwoo says:

    Yes, try the cucumber! I really can’t recommend it enough… it’s like liquid summer.

  8. megwoo says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the lemon grass! Please do try the cucumber and let me know what you think.

  9. saffron says:

    ooohhh these sound fantastic! with summer approaching i’ll definitely try this. i like the idea of lemongrass with citrus. i might have a play this weekend! thanks for sharing :)

  10. megwoo says:

    Yes, simple syrups are perfect for summer drinks!

  11. friendlier says:

    I went looking for a recipe for lime simple syrup and came upon these! Wow. You’ve really pushed my buttons. I’m off to the fruit and veg.

    Jamestown, NY

  12. Bill says:

    I tried the recipe for the cucumber syrup, but found that putting the cucumber into the hot simple syrup caused it to lose the fresh flavor of the cucumber. I made a new batch where I cooled and refrigerated the syrup and then added the cucumber which gave it a very crisp and fresh taste.

  13. Matt says:

    One thing I like to do is cook the cucumber while the simple syrup reduces, then take the cooked slices and puree them with a little white grape and save in a jar. Adds another level of flavor when I make cucumber cocktails.

  14. dennis says:

    Can I get the cucumber simple syrup? Do you use the seeds?

  15. Lisa says:

    Just came across this post and wanted to comment on the bitter taste of the lime syrup. If you take the lime peel (or any citrus peel you are using) and first put it in some water, bring the water to a boil, then discard the water, you can continue making the simple syrup according to the recipe above and it will take out the bitterness!

    This is the process I use to make candied citrus peel, which shares the same first half of the recipe.

  16. […] .5 oz Cucumber Syrup (a simple recipe can be found here ) […]

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