Step Up Your Cocktails With Infused Simple Syrups

With restaurants and bars closed, our home bars are the only thing we have left right now. Now is the perfect time to spruce up our personal bartending game with some interesting ideas.

Enough with the negronis, the old fashioneds, and martinis. To really step your mixology skills, try making your own flavored simple syrups.

Simple syrup is easy and quick to make--hence the name. Just bring equal parts of sugar and water to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Simple syrup can be used to sweeten up your favorite gin and tonics to whiskey sours. You can even make simple syrup with all sorts of different miscellaneous foods like fruits, herbs, and even spices to give your cocktails an extra flavor profile.

In a small pan, heat up ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup water and stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. While the syrup is heating up, muddle anything additional you want to infuse in a measuring cup to get all the flavorful oils out in the open.

Once the syrup is finished, pour it over the ingredients and let everything steep for 2-3 hours. Once it has steeped, be sure to strain the syrup into a jar and store it in the fridge for up to a week.

While it may seem a bit silly to let your syrup steep with the ingredients instead of simply putting them in the drink, consider this: infusing syrup with things like mint can preserve the flavor of your produce before it goes bad. Also, if you’re thinking of preparing a more sophisticated drink, it saves on chopping and muddling.

Here are a few suggestions that you can try during quarantine.

Mint

Herbs are super easy ingredients to infuse syrups with. Plus, mint doesn’t last forever, so it’s helpful to have some mint simple syrup for when your last mint leaf wilts.

Raspberry

Fruit, especially berries, tends to go bad much quicker than herbs. Infusing it with simple syrup is a nice way to maneuver around the ultra-sweetness of berries.

Basil

Basil syrups can add a nice vegetal flavor to your favorite drinks.

Vanilla

If you have a spare scraped-out vanilla bean pod from baking, steep it into the simple syrup for a warming cocktail. When in doubt, a capful of vanilla extract also works.

Chili Pepper

This is a sure fire way to add some heat to your drinks. The pepper you use is up to you, but you can try jalapenos, serranos, or any sort of dried chili.

Ginger

The woody and zesty flavors of ginger go very nicely with cocktails. Putting it in a simple syrup helps bypass all the chopping and scraping that would normally be necessary to include it.

Cinnamon

Break up a cinnamon stick and let it steep in the simple syrup before adding a pinch to a glass of Scotch.