Get it? It’s like that Chris Rock joke about syrup. I can’t really remember the joke, but that’s the payoff. So… yeah. The important thing here is that I point out this is the syrup post. This is going to be filed under “Boozing Basics” and “Techniques.” We’re first going to talk about the pluses and minuses of a few types of syrup, and then how you can make them.
A basic simple syrup is made with white sugar… I use Domino. The shit’s clear, sweet, and cheap. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. This is a must for your bar, if not any others. And don’t go buying a bottle of it from the store either – that’s the coward’s way.
Most of your trendier bars will be using a syrup called “Demerara” which is just a fancy name for cane sugar. You can buy “Sugar In the Raw” by the box at the grocery store, or you can find pure unbleached cane sugar at most Mexican grocers for a bit cheaper – (This 4lb bag is Zilka cost 2.99, as opposed to a 2 lb. box of Sugar in the Raw for $4.79). Here’s the deal with this shit, it tastes better than a simple syrup… more caramelly, and seems to bring out the natural flavors of the liquor a bit better. The downside is that it colors the drink a bit. Not a problem if your base is a brown spirit or there are dark ingredients, but try using this shit in a Ramos gin fizz and end up with something that looks likes frothy poop. Just try it!
Blue Agave Syrup
My wife buys this stuff at Trader Joe’s. It’s a few bucks for a small bottle, but it’s really sweet for the volume. That means you don’t have to use very much to get the desired sweetness – which isn’t always a good thing. I pretty much only use this in my Margaritas and Daquiris tho, for some reason that has something to do with the agave plant being Mexican. But I don’t really have a better reason than that.
So, by now you’ve probably deduced that I like to use a particular syrup for the drink I am making. I think you should have all three of these in your bar, and a bottle is going to last you a long time.
I make my syrups at a ratio of 1:1. That means 1 part water to 1 part sugar. There seems to be some trend in the industry about making syrups that have almost no water… I personally am not into this. I made a syrup with 4 parts sugar to 1 part water, and it turned out with the consistency of molasses, way too sweet, and crystallized massively in under a week. Not so kick ass. Moving on..
In a saucepan, add 1 part water. Bring it up to a boil. Add your desired sugar, and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. Bottle. Incidentally, I usually use a cup of sugar to a cup of water, which yields a little over a cup of syrup.
The Bottling & Preserving
I bottle my syrups in old booze bottles, which I wash out with hot water and a bit of bleach. It’s important to make sure the bottle is clean and dry before you put the syrup in, otherwise it will mold, which is fucked up. You’re also going to want to add an ounce or two of liquor, to act as a preservative. I usually use Cognac or rum. The higher the proof the better.
So, give it a try… it’s easy as heck, and cheap as all get out.