Gingredients: simple syrup / sugar syrup.

I first made my own batch of simple syrup a couple of months ago when I decided I was going to dedicate this summer to the Tom Collins. As my plan for Ginuary evolved, so did my smugness at already having some syrup in the fridge, ready to use. Thing is, I made around 700ml. I’m now halfway through Ginuary and I’ve made most of my drinks at home, so I knew I’d have to make more soon enough. I found some time to do that this weekend.

Sugar Syrup / Simple Syrup

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part sugar (caster)

 

Pour one part (I used three cups) sugar into an appropriately-sized saucepan and squash any lumps. Add one part (I used three cups) water. Heat the mixture on the stove, stirring constantly, until it reaches boiling point. Make sure all sugar granules are dissolved before you remove from heat, but note that the longer you boil, the thicker (and stronger) the mixture will become – so don’t leave it too long.

Wait until it cools and then decant into a bottle with a decent seal. Fridge that bottle!

 

Gingredients: sugar syrup.

 

It is actually that simple. (GEDDIT?) The above picture features, from left to right: ginger sugar syrup, mint sugar syrup, a homemade grenadine cheat, and regular ol’ simple syrup. I’ll post the grenadine cheat recipe some time in the not too distant future, I promise. But for now: sugar time.

Sugar syrup is used in a heckload of cocktails because dissolving sugar in a cocktail is annoying. It’s like when you don’t stir your sugar into your tea properly and you end up with an aggressively sweet mouthful right at the end. Blech. Step up: LIQUID SUGAR. Already dissolved for you, stirs/shakes/builds in with other liquid ingredients, has multiple uses (I’ve begun to regularly use it for homemade iced coffee in these summer months). Having a bottle already made up in the fridge is an excellent addition to your home bar.

something about this makes me uncomfortable

This feels like a lot of sugar, guys...

The 1:1 ratio is pretty fair. To fill my 750ml bottle I used three cups of sugar and three cups of water. Some cocktails will call for a rich simple syrup, which is just a 2:1 ratio. I haven’t come across any drinks that call for that so far, but a rich simple syrup will keep a bit longer in your fridge and will require a smaller amount of liquid to be added to a drink.

DISSOLUTION

Stir! Stir! Keep stirring!

WALK AWAY

In a couple of minutes it will look like this!

You can get a bottle from anywhere, guys. The bottle I was using for sugar syrup (that I’ve now reassigned to grenadine duty) was purchased from my local supermarket for a couple of bucks. The new bottle I’m using now is pretty and blue and was purchased from Robin’s Kitchen, one of those home cooking shops. There are roughly 3.5 of those kinds of shops in every shopping centre.

DECANT! DECANT!

A funnel is best if you're a bit clumsy.

I use a funnel to pour because it eliminates around 99% chance of error. Pouring from a saucepan (wide opening) into a bottle (small opening) generally equals disaster for me. Good job.

The syrup will keep in the fridge for around a month, so think about how might you might use before you make a batch. Don’t be wasteful! There’s a trick to prolonging the life of a bottle – just add a shot of vodka. This’ll give another couple of months to your bottle. Just be sensible – keep an eye on the bottle in the fridge. Once the syrup starts to get a bit cloudy and/or the bottle gets a bit of mould on the inside? Your syrup’s past its use-by date.

Back to nicer subjects. If you were paying attention back at that first photo, you’d have noticed the mention of ginger and mint. Dudes, this is super easy. I decided to make much smaller quantities of both of these – just one cup of sugar and water this time.

The ginger lumps look like poop in the water

I do consider this "cheating".

Look, I would have used fresh ginger but it was a Sunday evening when I made these and I live in Brisbane, where most shops close up early on Sundays. Welcome to my world. To be honest I probably wouldn’t have even used fresh ginger, because I really like the Coles ginger paste and I’ve used that in soups before with excellent results. I thought I had some in the fridge. I was wrong. Thanks to whichever one of my two housemates purchased this tub of ginger. Sorry I used some. I just really wanted to make ginger sugar syrup.

BUBBLES!

Boiling the ginger in? Feels legit. Sure.

I think the important part with these flavoured syrups might be to add the extra flavour while you’re dissolving the sugar. It feels right. I have a lot of feelings. In any case, there’s probably a couple of flavours you can add after the fact, but to cook in herbs and stuff, add them as you’re dissolving the sugar. Because it feels right.

Same thing for the mint. I did actually have fresh mint, and before I added it to the saucepan I shredded it up, muddled it and shook it around with a little bit of water and ice. I’m not sure if that helped at all but I did it anyway.

SSSSSSSSNAP

Fresh from my housemate's garden.

I'M SO CONFUSED! get it (muddled)

Post-muddling, pre-saucepan.

I’m concerned I may not have used enough ginger or mint, because it’s a bit of a horses for courses measurement. A couple of recipes I’ve seen suggest one full part mint – I think I had around half a cup. I did a couple of taste tests before cooling the syrups (if you’re going to use a teaspoon, remember to blow on the syrup before you put it in your mouth, dudes) and because of the taste test I upped the ginger content by a dollop or so. You can taste again once the syrup’s cooled and before you bottle it, but it’s a little bit late then.

ICEBERG AHEAD CAPTAIN

Minty!

herb up

Aaaaand to the boil.

Cool.

So the next bit is cooling them. You can just leave the syrup to sit around for a while, or you can FORCE IT TO COOL ITS JETS by either sticking it in the fridge (will the hot pan melt the plastic racks? PROBABLY) or freezer (I am forgetful… syrup iceblock, anyone?) or doing what I do and filling the sink with cold water, then putting the saucepan in that water.

TAKE A LOAD OFF!

Coolin' down in the sink.

There’s a noticeable difference in the colour of the three syrups (the mint syrup has a green tint, the ginger syrup has a ginger tint, it’s not rocket science), which made me feel a bit better about the level of flavour infusion. They taste fine. It’s important to leave the herb or whatever in the syrup while it cools, because that’ll give the infusion a little more steeping time. Like tea. If I get the chance to make them again in the near future, I’ll probably go overboard.

TEA STRAINER. INGENIOUS.

Strain the flavoured syrups.

Don’t forget to strain the flavoured syrups before/when bottling. There are some mad chunks in there that you don’t want in your syrup. (Or do you? I don’t.)

leaf me alone

Goodbye, my leafy friends.

If you’re a beer drinker, you may have noticed that I’ve got a couple of recycled Grolsch bottles in action. As long as you give them a good solid clean before reuse, they make excellent syrup bottles!

Congratulations! Thinking of You!

Ignore the red stuff for now.

And there you have it. If you want to add some vodka to give the syrup a longer shelf life, go for it. I didn’t do it on Sunday but I think I’ll go back and add a bit because I’ll probably stretch this stuff out longer than a month, considering how much I have and that there’s only half of Ginuary left to go.

I didn’t have any proper labels for the bottles, so to differentiate between the ginger and mint, I stuck an orange sticker to the ginger (Congratulations!) and a green sticker to the mint (Thinking of You). Hahahaha.

I’m pretty excited about using the ginger and mint syrups. Don’t just think cocktails when you’re thinking of sugar syrup. Like I said earlier, I use sugar syrup when making iced coffee. It’s good to have on hand if you want to make up a batch of unsweetened coffee or tea to put in the fridge. Even if you like it unsweetened, you can offer the sugar syrup as a sweetener for guests. It can be used for baking, too, but I don’t really bake. Any other suggestions? How about adding a bit of flavoured sugar syrup to a refreshing glass of soda water? DELICIOUS.

Let’s be honest – I’m probably just going to use most of mine up in cocktails.