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Customize Your Cocktails With Syrups

Taylor Sacco shares how you can customize cocktails by using simple but flavorful syrups.

One of the things that I’ve come to love most about cocktails is the ability to customize them. There are almost an endless number of tweaks and variations you can make that takes your cocktail from something familiar to something fresh. The challenge, I find, is in how you tweak your cocktail. I recently covered the topic of Rum Infusions, which is one really great way to add new flavors to your favorite rum-based cocktails. Another way you can customize your cocktails is by using syrups.

Take a classic daiquiri recipe: 2 ounces rum, 3/4 ounce lime juice and 3/4 ounce simple syrup. Easy peasy. What if we want to test out some tweaks to the recipe? Once you start adding to the basic recipe, the specs (or breakdown of ingredients) can get complicated very quickly. Suddenly, you can find yourself with an overabundance of ingredients that create a cocktail which no longer resembles the original. The key here is to enhance flavors, and not cover them. 

Syrups Make a Simple Solution

What a breakthrough it is to start making your own flavored syrups at home! So many cocktails—such as classic daiquiris, old fashioneds, gimlets, tom collins, mojitos and whiskey sours—call for simple syrup. Creating a custom syrup is a simple way to elevate your cocktail by adding just a few ingredients to your syrup while it cooks, then removing the ingredients when it’s done. Pretty cool, right?

Like most cocktail experimentation, syrups can be straightforward or complex. It really comes down to your interest in experimenting, and what flavors you’re looking to impart in your drink. Really, the raw potential of different flavor combinations and ideas should bring a smile to your face. Feel free to play around with different ideas using different herbs, teas, spices and fruits. 

As a starting point, here are two flavorful simple syrup recipes you can try from home:

-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup water
-10 blueberries
-5 raspberries
-2 large strawberries

Combine the sugar and water in a pan, and place it over high heat, stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has dissolved. Once you have a uniform syrup, reduce to medium-low heat and add your berries. Using a muddler, mush the berries against the bottom of the pan to release all of their berry goodness. Simmer for 10 minutes. To remove all of the fruit seeds and skins, pour the syrup through a cheesecloth into a container. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. 

-1/2 cup raw honey
-1/2 cup water
-1 oz of ginger, sliced or grated

In a pan, combine honey, ginger (cut into thin slices) and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 40-60 minutes, tasting as you go, until you’ve reached the right level of ginger flavor melded with your syrup. Strain out ginger slices and store syrup for up to three weeks. 

It’s Time To Make Cocktails

Now that you have some delicious homemade syrups, it’s time to make some delicious homemade cocktails! Here are a couple cocktail recipes you can make using your newly made syrups above. Enjoy!

Rumberry Daiquiri next to a jar of berry simple syrup and Rum 44


-2 oz Rum 44
-3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
-3/4 oz Three Berry Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds and strain, straight up, into a coup. Garnish with a slice of strawberry. 

Ginger Drop cocktail on a table next to a jar of ginger honey syrup


-2 oz First Run Rum or Bourbon
-3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
-3/4 oz Honey Ginger syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Written by Taylor Sacco and edited by Brianne Lucas. Published on June 17, 2022.

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