COVID got you staying at home but wishing you could reproduce cocktails like the ones you get from bearded, flannel-clad, tat-covered hipster mixologists? The vast majority of high-end cocktails you’re drinking at bars start with one of the most basic building blocks imaginable that can be embellished in an almost infinite number of ways, and you should use it if you want to improve your own at home. Imperium is here to help you live that cocktail life.
Sure, you can easily just add sugar to the liquids in your drink, but there are legit reasons to switch to a simple syrup.
- Accuracy — measurement is easier when the sugar has already been added to a liquid by weight, not volume. So you have more control over the sweetness you add to your cocktail.
- Flavor — a variety of different sugars can be used in simple syrups to achieve different flavor profiles; think brown sugars, palm sugars, etc. etc. Adding these to an arsenal of syrups gives you that same measured control with different flavors.
- Storage — they’re ready when you need them. No measuring, less muddling, faster imbibing.
How to make basic Simple Syrup
There are two typical versions of simple syrup, US one-to-one, and British or rich simple. You use less of the rich syrup obviously. The reason for using the different types is storage. Sugar is a preservative at high concentrations, so more sugar means more shelf-life.
What you need
- A scale — doesn’t have to be digital, doesn’t have to be drug-dealer accurate in super small weights, but you need to be able to measure in proportions of ounces in water and sugar.
- Sugar — whatever type you want with the understanding that it will need to be dissolved and some sugars are harder to do that with than others.
- Water — doesn’t have to be Evian, doesn’t have to be tap. Do what you want!
- A way to heat the mixture to boiling — sugars dissolve more easily in hot liquids
How you do it
- for a US standard simple syrup it’s a 1:1 measurement by weight. If you have a digital scale, use a vessel, tare the scale to zero, then use an equal weight of water and sugar
- for a British (or rich simple syrup) measure two parts sugar to one part water.
- Bring the water to a boil
- Add the sugar
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved
- Turn off the heat
While simple syrup isn’t horribly perishable, it doesn’t last forever. Make it in a batch size you expect to be able to use in one month for one-to-one, or 6 months for rich syrup.
Squeeze bottles are great and aid you in measurement, but any container you’re comfortable with is fine.
We like a classic old fashioned with a bit of a Baltimore twist. Because Imperium is proudly based in Baltimore — We use rye whiskey and we like Baltimore Spirits Co's Epoch Rye.
In a rocks glass full of ice pour 2 oz. of Epoch Rye, and half an ounce of a 1:1 syrup (or a quarter oz of rich and a quarter oz. of water, exactitude is nice, but not paramount). Add a dash of Angostura bitters, and a dash of orange bitters. Stir, and garnish with an orange peel and two Luxardo cherries (on a toothpick if you’re fancy) .
You can switch it up a ton! Add spices (cinnamon, allspice, star anise, etc.) and herbs, fruits, or citrus peels during the boiling phase, and you have a compound syrup that adds specific flavors and even colors to your drink. Just strain the liquid when you're done. The sky’s the limit, and your imagination is all you need. Be creative and let us know what you like, and what you come up with.