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

Clear simple syrup in a small swing top bottle; sugar in a jar and on a spoon

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 8 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
97 Calories
0g Fat
25g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 97
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 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 mix into cold beverages.

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 has 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. The 1:1 syrup is nice for flavored syrups and primarily used by bartenders, so many cocktail recipes assume that's what you're using. If you prefer a rich syrup, know that you'll likely want to use about 1/4 ounce less than what the drink recipe calls for.

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.


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"Simple syrup is perhaps the most important cocktail ingredient you can stock. It is extremely easy to prepare and makes mixing sugar into cocktails—an essential ingredient in many—a breeze. Granulated sugar is harder to dissolve, whereas simple syrup is instantaneous and foolproof. The key is to make sure it is balanced. Measure everything." —Tom Macy

How to Make a Simple Syrup for Cocktails Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup water

  • 1 to 2 cups sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for simple syrup recipe gathered

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  2. Bring the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water, stirring constantly.

    Sugar being dissolved in boiling water with a wooden spoon

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  3. Once the sugar is dissolved completely, reduce the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes (the more sugar, the less simmering time).

    Simple syrup in a saucepan off the heat

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  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken, then bottle. Use in your favorite drink recipes. Store any excess in the fridge.

    Clear simple syrup in closed swing top bottle

    The Spruce Eats


  • 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, with a consistency similar to that of a liqueur.
  • There are a few alternatives to using simple syrup. The most popular ones 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. However, 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 simple syrup to make 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 resulting syrup is a thinner (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.
  • To make a honey syrup, combine 1/3 cup of water and 1 cup of honey over low heat until dissolved.
  • 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 that 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, jalapeño simple 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:

How Long Does a Simple Syrup Last?

When stored in an airtight container or bottle in the fridge, simple syrup with last for at least three weeks and often more than a month.

Can You Buy Simple Syrup?

Simple syrup can often be found in bottles at liquor stores with an extensive mixers section, and you may find some flavored syrups as well. However, simple syrup could not be easier to make at home, only requiring sugar and water.