Make a Simple Syrup for Cocktails, Coffee, and Other Drinks

Simple syrup in a bottle and sugar in a jar and on a spoon
The Spruce
  • Total: 18 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 16 servings (1 1/2 cups)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16 servings (1 1/2 cups)
Amount per serving
Calories 1
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 1mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Simple syrup is, as the name implies, very simple to make from scratch. It's also the most budget-friendly drink sweetener you'll find, costing just pennies per batch. Also known as "sugar syrup," the only ingredients you need are sugar and water, so anyone can do it.

Once you learn how easy it is, you'll discover just how essential it is to keep simple syrup in stock for your bar and kitchen. It's found in many mixed drink and cocktail recipes, and you can use it to sweeten your coffee, tea, and homemade lemonades and sodas. Since the sugar is already dissolved into the syrup, it's much easier to add to cold beverages.

1:02

Click Play to See This Simple Syrup Recipe Come Together

There are two primary simple syrup ratios. Rich simple syrup means that you're using more sugar than water to create a richer syrup. It is a 2:1 ratio and is sweeter and thicker. You can also make a simple syrup with equal parts (1:1) of sugar and water. It will be a little thinner, and it will add just a touch of sweetness to your drinks. This is a nice option for flavored syrups.

With either option, the recipe will yield between 1 cup and 1 1/2 cups of syrup. You can make as small or as large a batch as you wish, just keep the same proportions. Once done, store it in the refrigerator in a well-sealed bottle where it will keep for up to a month.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 to 2 cups sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making a simple syrup along with a pan
    The Spruce 
  2. Bring the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water, stirring constantly.

    Sugar is dissolved in boiling hot water with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved completely, reduce the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (the more sugar, the less simmering time).

    Sugar is complete dissolved in the pan
    The Spruce 
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken, then bottle.

    The finished simple syrup is bottled and capped
    The Spruce
  5. Use in your favorite drink recipes and enjoy. Store any excess in the fridge.

Tips

  • Don't expect the syrup at either ratio to be as thick as maple syrup or honey. Instead, it will be thin and very easy to pour—more of a consistency similar to a liqueur.
  • There are a few alternatives to using simple syrup. The most popular in the bar are gomme (gum) syrup and agave nectar. Molasses and honey (or honey syrup) are other options, though they should be used selectively in cocktails.
  • If you're substituting simple syrup for granulated sugar in a drink recipe, the general rule is to use 1/4 ounce syrup for 1 teaspoon of sugar. You may need up to 1/2 ounce syrup. 
  • To prolong the shelf life, add a little vodka. Usually between a tablespoon and an ounce is enough, depending on how large the batch of syrup is.

Recipe Variations

  • The easiest way to make simple syrup is called "bar simple syrup" because it's a quick way for bartenders to make the sweetener. Simply combine equal parts (1:1) sugar and water in a bottle and shake it until the sugar is completely dissolved. The result is a thinner syrup (almost water-like) than a syrup that has been reduced by heat.
  • Replacing white sugar with demerara sugar (a raw sugar) is a popular alternative because it has an even richer flavor. The drawback to using this light brown sugar is that it will alter the color of your cocktails slightly, but the taste makes up for it.
  • You can also use turbinado sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, or palm sugar.
  • If you are a fan of stevia or other alternatives to sugar, feel free to use those to make a simple syrup. They work just as well though there is a bit of a flavor difference which you're probably used to if you use them regularly. Begin with a small batch of 1:1 simple syrup and see how you like it and make any adjustments from there.
  • To modify a sugar substitute like Sweet n' Low syrup for a sugar-loving palate, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. It reduces the bitter aftertaste and this trick may work well with other sugar substitutes as well.
  • Simple syrup can also be infused with flavor and used in a variety of drinks to add a unique twist. Try making homemade grenadine (a pomegranate-flavored simple syrup), sour mix (a lemon and lime-flavored syrup), lime cordial, spiced syrups like cardamom, ginger, or cinnamon simple syrup, chile pepper syrup, lavender syrup, coffee syrup, or vanilla syrup.

How to Use

Use your homemade simple syrup to sweeten the following drinks and much, much more: