When I teach cocktail classes, one of the most common questions I receive is how to make syrups at home. Flavored syrups can elevate the most basic cocktail recipe and allow you to incorporate fruits, herbs, and spices in a very consistent manner. Another benefit to making flavored syrups is that it eliminates extra steps and will help you to make drinks faster.
For example: Imagine you are making a Blueberry Mojito. Whether you are a working bartender or a novice at home making these for 10 of your closest friends, speed and efficiency is important. To make this drink, you would place 5 blueberries and 4 mint leaves in the bottom of the mixing glass. Next, you add simple syrup, muddle the fruit, add the lime juice and rum, add ice, and shake.
Unless you want the drink to look like a muddy fish tank, I would suggest straining out the blueberries and mint, then adding fresh fruit and mint to the finished product. Sounds like a lot of work, right? You can get the exact same effect with much less work by adding the mint and the blueberries into your simple syrup when you make it.
That brings me to the next most asked question. What is simple syrup, and how do I make it? It has that name for a reason, it is simply equal parts of sugar and water. You can do this on the stove and use whatever you want to measure it out, whether that be a fancy OXO measuring cup or your favorite coffee cup! Simple syrup is a staple behind craft cocktail bars and one thing I really love to do is use different types of sugar to make unique syrups. The most common of course is white granulated sugar, but I also really enjoy the maple flavors of sugar in the raw or Demerara. Demerara syrup is used in many Tiki rum drinks and adds richness to the cocktail that white sugar syrup cannot.
Incorporating spices into cocktails can be tricky because they often don’t mix well. If you want just a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg on the top of the cocktail for aromatics, then fresh grating it makes sense. But if you are looking for the rich flavors of these baking spices IN the cocktail, then making a syrup works best. Imagine how much a clove or cinnamon simple syrup can change a classic Daiquiri!
And finally, you can’t write about homemade syrups in a RUM magazine without mentioning the ever famous and iconic ORGEAT. Classically orgeat is made with almonds, sugar, water, and orange flower water. It is a staple in many Tiki drinks, the most common being the Mai Tai. Yes, you can go out and purchase pre-made orgeat- - - but as with most culinary adventures it is much better if it is made at home. I have recently gotten very creative with my orgeat syrups and have even made them with nuts other than almonds. I have included one of those recipes below.
Basic Simple Syrup
Blueberry Mint Simple Syrup
-Article written by Cris Dehlavi, The Muse of Mixology-
My name is Cris Dehlavi and I am a native of Arizona, but have lived in Columbus, Ohio for the past 13 years with my daughter, Desi. I have been running the bar program at “M”, of the Cameron Mitchell Restaurant group since 2005. I am currently the President of Columbus USBG as well as a consultant for bars and restaurants nationally. In 2013, I attended the rigorous B.A.R. 5 Day Spirits Certification and have been recognized as one of the top mixologists in the U.S.A. I am one of the senior managers of the prestigious apprentice program at Tales of the Cocktail and work as a mentor to many bar tenders around Ohio. My contribution to "Got Rum?" magazine will include everything from reviews of national cocktail events, articles on mixology, garnish trends, recipes and techniques, to interviews with some of the leading bartenders in the industry.