Cocktails are becoming extremely popular, but the price of them in a bar can often drive you to drink. Making them at home is very easy once you have a few simple tools, ingredients and a little know how. One of the most useful ingredient you can have is sugar syrup, also known as a simple syrup. This is used in many of the most popular cocktails today, from mojitos to brandy sours, you can buy it - but it's cheaper to make, and so easy that you'll be shaking your cocktails shaker in no time.
The basic principle of sugar syrup is one part water to two parts sugar. It's that simple.
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
Bottle to store the syrup in
Place the water and sugar in a heavy based saucepan a gentle heat stirring occasionally to allow the sugar to dissolve in the water. I personally prefer to do this slowly and not let the water boil as I find that this produces too thick a syrup.
Allow the mixture to cool completely and then bottle. This should last around 6 month - depending on how many cocktail you make of course. If you are worried about it going off you can add a tablespoon of vodka to the mixture as you bottle it, but it is easier to make smaller batches as you need them.
You can use any type of sugar to make the syrup. White sugar will give you a clear syrup and will sweeten but not flavour the cocktail. A darker sugar such as Demerara will give you a richer flavour - but will alter the colour of the cocktails. You can also flavour the syrup as you make it with a variety of flavours such as ginger and vanilla. This can then be used to put a twist on a regular cocktail.
Don't forget that clean equipment will make everything taste better and give items a longer shelf life. You may want to sterilize the bottle that the syrup is place in - using campden tablets, these are used in homebrew and will stop any nasty bugs ruining you hard work .
Now that you have made your syrup I'm sure that you want to test it out. So here is a recipe for one of my favourite cocktail - the mojito. Long and refreshing it's a perfect summer tipple.
8 mint leaves
Juice of one lime (about 25ml)
25ml sugar syrup
In a tall glass muddle the sugar syrup, mint leaves and lime juice together until the leaves are crushed and have released their flavour.
Add the rum, stir and fill the glass with ice. Top with soda water and enjoy.
This can easily be adapted with the use of different fruits - i.e. raspberries or flavoured sugar syrup - try vanilla.
I hope you enjoy your cocktails - let me know what you make.