Simple Syrup Recipes I

Most cocktail recipes feature some kind of sweetener and the most commonly used is simple syrup. But sometimes you will find more unusual syrups. While it is easy to buy a great variety of syrups these days, it is also easy to make them yourself.

This article is the first of several on how to make different kinds of syrup. Along with the recipes for making the syrups you will also find a handful of cocktail recipes using them. Because few things are better than celebrating your self-made ingredients by having a cocktail or two.

At first you will find the primary syrups that you probably already know about: Simple Syrup and Rich Simple Syrup. They are listed for the sake of completeness nevertheless. There is also a recipe for Honey Syrup which makes using honey in cocktails quite easy. After the obligatory recipes I want to share my methods for making fruit syrups. So you will find recipes for Strawberry Syrup, Raspberry Syrup and Orange Syrup after the basic syrup recipes.

When making syrups it is important that everything is clean. This way your syrups will keep longer. If possible always sterilize your bottles with boiling water before adding the syrup, so bacteria don't stand a chance.

In the following recipes sometimes it says to let the syrup cool before filling it into a bottle. You can also fill the syrup into a clean bottle while it is still hot. Just make sure that the bottled syrup cools down at room temperature. Otherwise you risk shattering the glass.

Basic Syrup Recipes

The first and most versatile syrup is of course simple syrup. It is easy, fast and cheap to make, which means you should always have some at your disposal. The recipe omits a specific amount, because you can easily adjust it to your needs.


Simple Syrup

  • 1 Part Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Part Water

Add the water and sugar to a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is translucent. Make sure the syrup doesn't boil. Let it cool and fill into a clean bottle. Stores in the fridge for a long time.


Simple Syrup is clear and adds easy sweetness to a cocktail. My favorite use is in a Daiquiri, but obviously there are thousands of recipes requiring this syrup.

A useful variation on the simple syrup is often called rich simple syrup. Which means there is more sugar dissolved in the water. It works quite well with brown sugar, as this adds a bit of a caramel flavor; a nice addition in some cocktails.


Rich Simple Syrup

  • 2 Parts Granulated (Brown) Sugar
  • 1 Part Water

Add the water and sugar to a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is translucent. Make sure the syrup doesn't boil. Let it cool and fill into a clean bottle. Stores in the fridge for a long time.


When using brown sugar be aware that the syrup will add some color to your cocktail as well as slight caramel notes. It pairs great with whiskey, which is why I regularly use it in an Old Fashioned.

Another syrup that might come in handy is honey syrup. Usually honey takes a long time to dissolve in cold fluids, therefore you will have it easier if you make some honey syrup first. If you have time you can use real honey and just stir for a bit until it has dissolved before adding ice and preparing the cocktail.


Honey Syrup

  • 1 Part Honey
  • 1 Part Water

Add honey and water to a pan over low heat and stir until the honey has dissolved completely. Make sure the syrup doesn't boil. Let it cool and fill into a clean bottle.


Honey syrup will not keep very long, but you can extend the time by adding a splash of (high-proof) vodka to the finished syrup. As honey will begin to ferment when the amount of water in it is greater than 19%, this goes a long way in keeping your syrup from turning to mead. You should stop using your syrup when you notice a yeasty smell.

A great cocktail to use your honey syrup in is this prohibition-era classic:


Bee's Knees Cocktail

Bee's Knees

  • 60ml London Dry Gin
  • 20ml Lemon Juice
  • 20ml Honey Syrup

Pour gin, lemon juice and honey syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into a pre-chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lemon zest.


Today this cocktail can be enjoyed with a proper gin, instead of some prohibition-style bathtub mixture, which means the gin does not have to hide behind the honey. The flavors combine to form a refreshing cocktail in which gin is the main player while the honey lingers in the back, delivering just the right amount of sweetness.

Fruit Syrup Recipes

The great thing about a fruity simple syrup is that you can catch the wonderful flavors of seasonal fruit and use them later on. Most of these syrups can be used to make a quick non-alcoholic beverage by just adding some mineral water or soda. But of course they do well in cocktails, too.

Everybody Likes Strawberries

Strawberries! They are best when they are in season and really ripe. You can do a lot with them, one great thing is to make this syrup. I chose a pretty easy recipe since I am lazy. You can peel them for a better syrup but it is a lot of work.


Strawberry Syrup

  • 2 Cups Strawberries (quartered and stems removed)
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water

Add strawberries, sugar and water to a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. Blend the mixture and pass through a sieve to catch all the small nuts. Bring the liquid to a boil again, fill into a clean bottle and seal immediately. Let the syrup cool down and then store in the fridge. Unopened it should keep for months.


As the most popular tequila cocktail the Margarita suffers from a lot of horrible variations. Usually there is lots of fruit and sugar involved and in some cases even blenders are used to create some kind of slushy. I want to offer a variation that keeps the spirit of the original and adds a bit of fruitiness that accentuates the tequila.


A Strawberry Margarita

Strawberry Margarita

  • 60ml Tequila
  • 30ml Cointreau
  • 30ml Lime Juice
  • 20ml Strawberry Syrup

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a pre-chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lime twist and a strawberry.


I used Partida Tequila Blanco which is excellent when making Margaritas. This Strawberry Margarita offers subtle strawberry notes and the tequila is still dominant. A much better alternative to a strawberry slushy that supposedly contains tequila.

A Vintage Ingredient

When cocktails became big in the 19th century lots of bartenders made their own ingredients to offer their guests something unique. A really popular ingredient was raspberry syrup. Before Grenadine took over, raspberry syrup was the ingredient to give a cocktail some natural sweetness as well as a great color.


Raspberry Syrup

  • 2 Cups Raspberries (cleaned)
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water

Add raspberries, sugar and water to a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Strain into a bottle and store in the fridge. You can add a splash of vodka so that it keeps longer.


What better way to use this syrup than with a vintage cocktail. If you have no 19th century wine-glass to measure your cocktails I suggest measuring 60ml instead as this seems to be the common substitute.


Knickerbocker Cocktail

Knickerbocker

  • ½ a lime, or lemon, squeeze out the juice, and put rind and juice in the glass
  • 2 teaspoonfuls of raspberry syrup
  • 1 wine-glass Santa Cruz rum
  • ½ teaspoonful of Curaçoa.

Cool with shaved ice; shake up well, and ornament with berries in season. If this is not sweet enough, put in a little more raspberry syrup.

Recipe from Jerry Thomas: How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion


Since Santa Cruz Rum isn't available and David Wondrich recommends an old Appleton I decided to use my Appleton Estate V/X which is apparently so old that it is now called Reserve Blend. The cocktail is light, fresh and has an amazing color. The raspberry syrup really adds a new dimension to this simple rum and lime mix.

Citrus Power

A great way to preserve orange juice is to make it into syrup. Just like honey syrup it can speed up making certain cocktails, but I find that the flavor of the oranges is intensified when made into a syrup. The recipe featured here is quite simple, and because orange combines really well with other ingredients I will present another syrup in the next part of this series.


Orange Syrup

  • 500ml Fresh Orange Juice
  • 500g Granulated Sugar
  • Juice Of Half A Lemon

Add the orange juice, lemon juice and sugar to a pan and bring to a boil while stirring. Remove the syrup immediately from the heat and fill into clean bottles. Let them cool lying down. Stores in the fridge for a long time.

Adapted from Ulrich Jakob Zeni: Die Einkoch-Bibel


Oranges go well with rum, especially a strong navy kind of rum. Therefore I like to pair my orange syrup with Pusser's Rum. It is a versatile combination which allows to make summer style cocktails, as well as drinks for the winter.


Orange Navy Rum

Orange Navy Rum

Add the rum, Cointreau, orange syrup and lime juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange wheel.


This is something for a hot day. Sweet orange combined with a strong rum produces an easy to drink cocktail. The lime and Cointreau add a certain je ne sais quoi that just makes this cocktail work. If you like navy rum and don't have an aversion to orange then this concoction is definitely for you.

The Sweet Summary

Making syrups is easy and I hope after reading the recipes featured here you think so too. The best thing about making them yourself is, you can always produce your desired amount. Rather than having large syrup bottles take up space, it is more convenient to store some small bottles you can use up quickly.

Another great thing is, as you make the syrup yourself you always know what went in it and thus have full control over how it tastes. You can easily alter the recipes to be more or less sweet, change the amount of fruit or add extra spices.

Next week I will continue this series with more great flavors and show you some combinations using herbs, spices, fruits and tea. Of course there will be more cocktail recipes accompanying my syrups, so if you liked this article be sure to catch the next one. If you don't want to miss it you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe via mail to always get the latest updates.