Simple Syrup & Some Easy Infusions

I’ve really wanted to get this post down so I could start using some of these syrups in future recipes. I was going to post so much earlier, but then job interviews were scheduled and–perhaps more significantly–Rock Band 3 was released today. Be grateful I’m so out of practice my drummin’ forearms are too sore to go on.

Simple Syrup. The name really says it all and it’s about the easiest thing in the world to put together. First, take:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Then you boil it for about 3 minutes in a small saucer over medium-high heat, until the liquid is clear. This will make roughly 1 cup simple syrup (a bit more). It will look something like this:

Photo by Michael Paydos, 2010If you turn the heat off and it’s still noticeably cloudy or granulated, just heat it up more.

That’s it! If you plan on just keeping the sugar, let it cool for about 5 minutes, transfer to a sealable bottle, and refrigerate. Now, I’ve read all sort of nonsense about how long it will keep, but so long as it’s still clear it is still good. I’ve kept it well over 6 months with no problems. You can add a bit of lemon juice, which ppl claim will preserve it better, but I generally don’t bother.

Plain simple syrup is awesome for mix drinks that use lemon or lime juice, iced coffee, and pretty much any instant cold drink you want sweetened. It also takes on an infusion fairly well.

Consider these ingredients for simple infusing (there are several others that are a bit more complicated):

  • lemon zest (1 tbsp)
  • lime zest (1 tbsp)
  • orange zest (1 tbsp)
  • clove (2 tbsp)
  • cardamom (1/4 cup)
  • star anise (1/4 cup)
  • cinnamon (1/4 cup)
  • chai spice blends (1/4 cup)
  • Ethiopian tea spice (usually a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, & clove) (1/4 cup)
  • black peppercorns (2 tbsp)
  • nutmeg (2 pods, chopped)
  • black tea (2 bags)
  • green tea (2 bags)
  • ginger (1/4 cup fresh diced pieces)
  • fresh mint (1/4 cup)

For any of the above ingredients, follow these instructions:

Photo by Michael Paydos, 2010Make the syrup as described above (it needs to be h0t)

Prep your ingredient (in this case cardamom). Have a good glass jar that you can seal and can add hot liquids to.

Photo by Michael Paydos, 2010Then, while the sugar is still very hot (but no longer boiling–let it cool about 30 seconds to a minute) mix the two in the bottle. Use a spoon to swirl the ingredients around a bit. Be careful as that jar is going to be mad hot. Once it’s cool enough to touch, seal the jar and leave it at room temperature for 12 – 24 hours. After that, pour through a metal strainer and refrigerate. Should last at least 3 – 6 months. In the case of black pepper, I prefer to add the peppercorns to the granualated sugar and boil it all together, then leave the spice in for about a week (refrigerate after 24 hours). You can always taste any of these and decide for yourself if you want a little extra flavor intensity.

There are, of course, other syrups and feel free to experiment. The tea ones are usually ready in maybe 1-2 hours. Some, like vanilla, shouldn’t be done with hot syrup (it’ll break down the flavors). Others, like the citrus ones, benefit from using juice instead of part of the water. Still others, like almond, require too many steps to detail in an already too-long post. For any alterations or complicated syrups, I’ll have a post about it.Getting these out of the way opens up a lot of doors for layering flavors, and since they’ll mostly last about 6 months and aren’t too hard to make there’s no reason not to have like all of these on hand all the time. At the very least, have the cardamom, black pepper, and mint always around.

Here’s a couple drinks:

Just What the Dr. Ordered Before Losing His License

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 1 oz black pepper infused sugar
  • soda water
  • cherry

Mix first two ingredients in a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a cherry.

Cooler than a Cucumber

Mix first 3 ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a spring of mint or wedge of whatever citrus you use.


About Dazed & Infused

Failed science major turned to creative writing which led to a job as a bartender hack turned mixologist turned book editor turned writer who then went on to the world of International Corporate Communications. This is a bit getting back to his roots--that would be booze & science & rambling.
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17 Responses to Simple Syrup & Some Easy Infusions

  1. sarah p says:

    The “Just What the Dr. Ordered” one sounds delicious (of course, you knew I’d say that about anything involving black pepper…).

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