How to make sugar syrups and why

How to make sugar syrups and why

Sugar syrups are used in many cocktails today to sweeten the cocktails.  You may have heard of simple syrup, or gomme syrup, well this is the essentially same thing.

Like yin to yang, sugar syrups and sour ingredients (such as fresh lime or lemon juice), are each others counterparts, and bring the senses to life when used correctly.  Tasting both sweet and sour on the tongue really does make for a fantastic flavour. This is all about balance of flavour so that the cocktail is as tasty as possible.  This also goes beyond just cocktails, as you may or may not already know.

Sugar syrups come in a huge variety of flavours (as you may have seen in your local coffee shop) but they don’t stop at vanilla latte’s or caramel cappuccino’s. They’re only restricted by your imagination. Try making some for yourself, and adding it to your cuppa at home.

How to make sugar syrup


  • white sugar
  • water
  • (yes it’s that simple, though as you’ll see it can go as complex as you like)


Combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water in a pan. Heat on a medium heat, stirring constantly to ensure the sugar does not caramelise. Simmer, do not boil. Once all the sugar has dissolved, pass the syrup through a fine tea strainer to remove any potentially un-dissolved sugar crystals that may encourage crystallisation. This syrup lasts for ages if kept in a sterile bottle in the fridge.

Told you it was simple.

Alternative sugar syrups

It is possible to make and use different types of sugar syrups for different cocktails: e.g. Demerara sugar works well with bourbon, and muscovado, palm sugar or jaggery work well with Bermudan rum etc.

To make:

  • vanilla syrup add 1 split vanilla pod to the mix before heating, and leave in. The seeds add interest to the look of the syrup.
  • cinnamon syrup, use cinnamon sticks not cassia bark, and remove after heating to prevent bitter flavours developing.
  • Practically any flavour can be used: black pepper, almonds and even sweet potato have been used.

This method of making it yourself is much cheaper than commercial gomme syrup, and can be made in different flavours.

The only difference between this and gomme is that gomme contains about 0.5% gum arabic. If you want to add gum (for smoother mouth-feel) this can be bought very cheaply from specialist grocers (but most people will not be able to tell the difference).

For those that really take things seriously…For slightly thicker syrup with some foaming qualities add about 10% maltodextrin (a flavourless complex sugar) before heating. Maltodextrin can be bought by the bucket from homebrew shops, and is used to give beer a head. This syrup is particularly good for preventing the foam on sours from collapsing.

So try your own sugar syrup in your next cocktail (or coffee) and let us know what different infusions you create. You may very well create the next big taste in cocktail making

Strawberry Daiquiri Cocktail

Strawberry Daiquiri

Bramble Cocktail


Making a mojito


Amaretto Sour

Amaretto Sour







Try making any of these fantastic cocktails that include sugar syrup. Enjoy