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right consistency of simple syrup

How can I tell when simply syrup has the right consistency and sweetness for drinks? My bartender friend gave me this recipe: boil 1c. water w/1.5 c. sugar for about 5 minutes, til barely thickened; add 3-4 sprigs of rosemary, let cool, and strain (for champagne cocktail). I did all that (I thought). However, when I put it in fridge, the bottom half crystalized. The liquid on top smells great (like rosemary), but I'm afraid I might have reduced it too long and it might be too sweet. If I experiment the day before guests come, I'll ruin my good sparkling because it will go flat by next day. How can I tell when simple syrup is at the right consistency and sweetness?

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  1. Simple syrup is very thin. Try it 3-1 water and sugar, and emulsify it after it melts.

    2 Replies
    1. re: brendastarlet

      So I gather, that I put the sugar in once the water boils, right. Pardon my ignorance, but how do I emulsify after it melts?

      1. re: neophyte

        There seems to be a little confusion on terms.

        You cannot emulsify a solid into a liquid.....you emulsify two liquids, that ordinarily will not mix together,e.g. , oil and water..... or oil and vinegar.

        What you actually need to do is to dissolve the solid sugar into the liquid water....without boiling any further after the sugar is added to the liquid, on or off the heat.

    2. I have never heard of using a ratio of more sugar to water....so that could be the problem you are experiencing with the crystallization of the cooled syrup. Any bar recipe I have ever used consisted of an even 1:1 ratio.


      1. there are some ratios of 2:1 out there. I think 1:1 usually works very nicely and I don't really reduce it so much as bring to a boil, add sugar, remove from heat.

        1. I've used from 2:1 down to 1:1 sugar/water and haven't had any problems other than it getting moldy after sitting too long. However, after bringing the water to a boil and adding the sugar I kill the heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. If you continue to reduce than my guess would be it's creating too thick of a syrup.

          1. I was a bartender for years ... 1:1 boil on high and then and reduce for 4-5 minutes on medium. Turn off and simple syrup. Don't make it harder than it is. Nothing else

            1. If you put seasoning in after it boils great, just strain, not a big deal. Don't worry about anything else

              FYI, make sure you don't had sugar to boiling water, bring them both to a boil. That is is, let cool completely before cooling in the fridge, important.

              1. Thank you all for the good information--I realize now how varied sugar/water ratios are, so it must depend on individual taste? This is for a birthday dinner champagne cocktail: 3/4 flute of sparkling, 2Tbs rosemary infused simple syrup and 2Tbs Cintronge. My guests are serious cocktail connoisseurs and wouldn't appreciate anything too sugary. It would be really helpful to me to know what the consistency of the simple syrup is supposed to be like, i.e. corn syrup, milk, more watery?

                1 Reply
                1. re: neophyte


                  As (kchurchill5) suggests above, do not make this harder than it need to be.

                  Simple syrup should be thicker than water and denser.....how dense depends on your application. Are you using this strictly for beverages or for something more all purpose or baking. In your case of beverages...are you trying to thicken the drink, or are you merely trying to sweeten it. Simple syrup makes it easier and saves time from having to open packets of sugar or waiting for teaspoons of sugar to dissolve in preparation of drink. Classic version recipes for simple syrup suggest proportions of 2:1 ratio pf sugar to water....but if you use a pour spout on a bottle.....that ratio tends to clog the pour spout very easily and it is why a even 1:1 ratio is often used instead. The decision is really a personal preference of the user and nothing is etched in stone.....you would adjust the volume used accordingly. If your ratio is 2:1, then you would use half of a 1:1 ratio recipe by volume for your drink., or vice versa, double of 1:1 ratio for a 2:1 ratio recipe. It has nothing to do with consistency or denseness in practical terms. Nornmally you would never add anything more than an ounce of liquid for most cocktal drinks...if the most dicerning palate would not be able to notice too much of a difference. If you were making coffe or teas...then you would use more simple syrup presumably and yes, a difference would be able to be determined by taste, in my opinion.

                  As a note....I read that the cause of crystallization can occur when the bottle is not clean and impurities are introduced to the mixture.

                2. Regular Simple syrup is 1:1, sugar to water. Some cocktail recipes call for Rich Simple syrup which is 2:1, sugar to water. Although some old recipes mean Demerra Simple syrup when they call for Rich Simple syrup.

                  You do not boil the syrup.

                  You add the sugar to cold water in a pan, heat on medium while stirring gently until the sugar melts. Remove the pan from heat and let sit until it cools. You don't actually have to heat the water. The sugar will dissolve in unheated water, it just takes a bit of stirring, or shaking in a jar.

                  Simple syrup is called that to distinguish it from Invert syrup. Boiling and reducing can lead to caramelization and developing cooked flavors, and inversion. Invert syrup is when the bonds in the sugar are broken down due to heat or chemical means.

                  Simple syrup and Invert syrup have different physical and chemical properties. This doesn't mean much in cocktails, but is important in making pastry and other baking.

                  One thing about invert syrup is that it is more resistant to crystalization than simple syrup.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JMF

                    JMF's got it right and I couldn't have said it better myself.

                    Cold water and sugar, in equal amounts to a pan and heat until the sugar disolves into the water. For the type of recipe you mention above you're only trying to sweeten (and add a little rosemary flavor) so the 1:1 proportions are appropriate. It'd toss the rosemary in once I started to see the sugar begin to dissolve, but before it's completely gone.

                    Once the sugar is dissolved let it cool, then strain out the rosemary and put into a bottle you can use to measure out the small amount you need per drink. I like the squeeze bottles you can pick up at a restaurant supply store, but if that's not handy buy a tall glass jar with a pourer that at your local big box store.

                    And try not too stress about it, simple syrup is pretty forgiving using the above method - cocktails should be about having fun! Enjoy your night!

                    1. re: JMF

                      Interesting on the boil part. I always brought mine up to a boil, but then removed and then simmered. I never boiled for any period of time but did bring to a boil. I always thought it worked better. And that is how I learned it. I guess lots of ways to make it. Maybe because I always infused mine with either herbs or orange or lemon zest etc is why I bring to a boil but either or.

                      Just enjoy the night!

                    2. It's... um... syrupy, usually a bit thicker than your average cordial. The sugar/water ratio only affects how much extra water goes into the drink; 2 ounces of 1:1 will have the same sweetening power as 1 ounce of 2:1.

                      If your syrup crystallized, then it is quite possible you have a super-saturated solution. In time, more of the sugar will drop out of solution and crystallize; it's the same way rock candy is made. Generally something has to start the crystallization, and that something is often an undissolved grain of sugar that found its way into the bottle.

                      For simple syrup, all you need to do is heat it until the mixture is completely clear. You can do this on the stove, but I find it's easier to do it about 30 seconds in the microwave, stir, another 30 seconds, stir, repeat until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is *completely* clear. At home, I do 1 pound of sugar for 1 cup of water. You don't want to go much more sugar than this, as the solution becomes very unstable past this point. A simpler way of doing it is 1 cup sugar to 1 cup of water from the hot tap. Pour the sugar and water into the bottle, leave it at room temperature, and give it a shake whenever you think about it. Once all the sugar is dissolved, stick it in the fridge.

                      Above all: It's called simple syrup for a reason. Don't sweat it. Make the first cocktail for yourself, and gradually add simple syrup until you find it the right sweetness.

                      1. I make mine 5:4 cane sugar:water, and don't ever apply heat, which even in small amounts can change the flavor of the syrup in unpredictable ways, when what you want is absolute consistency. Just shake the hell out of it; it's not hard at all.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          I concur. I used to heat the sugar/water but now I just shake for 3 min. No waiting for the solution to cool. no watching the sauce pan. just shake.

                          You will also not have to worry about having too cooked a taste to the syruyp.

                        2. 1:1, sugar to water. Mixed without boiling is fine if you will use it in a day or two but it will get moldy soon after.
                          That is why I add the sugar to boiling water, return to a boil, and pour it into a jar or bottle that has been rinsed with boiling water. Usually keeps for weeks in the refrigerator.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: atheorist

                            if you add a little vodka to either shaken or cooked it will last a while

                            1. re: quazi

                              Yes, about 1 oz 80 proof for every 16 oz seems to keep things good.

                              I do this for all of my syrups so they don't go microbial on me.


                          2. Good lord, people. It's sugar + water, and it's like $3.00 for a bottle. Just buy it.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Shu the Moody

                              LOL @ buying simple syrup.

                              Pineapple gomme syrup, sure. But simple?

                              1. re: yarm

                                How is that Pineapple gomme syrup by the way?

                                1. re: JMF

                                  The Small Hands Food stuff is rather good. Although when I need pineapple syrup, I cheat by making it with pineapple juice and sugar (in most drinks, you would not be able to tell the difference, but tasting straight you might). So I have only tasted it at the Boston Shaker straight and at Tales (SHF had a table at a tasting room), but not at home.

                              2. re: Shu the Moody

                                and 5 lbs of sugar is $3 and tap water is free. Then you can make gallons of simple syrup. So why buy simple syrup, which is an inferior product with stabilizers and preservatives?

                                1. re: Shu the Moody

                                  And that's why I don't buy it. It's just sugar and water, and they want to charge me $3 for it.

                                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                    There was a thread on here a few months back where a woman's friends wouldn't approve of a kitchen-made syrup and looked down on it compared to a namebrand store bought one.

                                    And this doesn't include sloth and chemically-induced shelf life.

                                    1. re: yarm

                                      I saw that one. I think my recommendation to her was to find new friends. Or to find a fancy label and call it artisanal handcrafted syrup.

                                2. I'm surprised nobody mentioned the CHOW video just to the right ->

                                  CHOW Tip: How to Make no-Boil Simple Syrup

                                  1. a bit of clear corn syrup will also help with preventing crystallization.

                                    1. The proper ratio is 1:1 equal parts water to sugar

                                      2:1 or 3:1 sugar to water is called rock candy syrup

                                      there are some pretty good threads on http://www.tikiroom.com forums - good resource for some tiki drink stuff also

                                      dont boil it, however it needs to be right on the edge of boiling, kind of a pain to watch it but if you make a big batch you wont have to deal with it again

                                      If you are lazy stirlings makes a decent simple syrup - if you are looking for good mixers i would go to Small Hands Foods they are great

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Dapuma

                                        I'm not sure that the ratio is well enough defined to say "proper."

                                        "Generally, the ratio of sugar to water can range anywhere from 1:1 to 2:1."

                                        Another site with lots of syrups on it suggests that rock candy is 2:1, but doesn't specify simple syrup.

                                        Personally, I assume 1:1 if it's not specified and 2:1 if it says "rich simple syrup." Obvious it would be best to specify, since it makes a huge difference when using a specified quantity.

                                        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                      2. I use 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Compared to equal parts the 2:1 mix is more stable and less likely to grow mold. Less water means less dilution of alcohol in a cocktail.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                          It all depends upon what the recipe calls for. Does it say simple syrup? then it's 1:1. Does it call for rich syrup, then its 2:1. Dilution is part of the recipe in a cocktail. for consistency and balance there has to be the right amount. usually around 30%. Any syrup should be kept refrigerated, and disposed of after a few weeks. it only takes a few minutes to make more, so why make more than you can use before it possibly molds.

                                          1. re: JMF

                                            I keep my 1:1 simple for months (since I don't use it often), refrigerated, and it never grows mold. Maybe I'm just lucky -- don't know. I use instant hot water (190*F) and can detect no flavor, caramel or otherwise. Dissolves like a charm with just a bit of shaking (made right in the bottle). So easy.

                                            www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                                              Since you are using 190 degree water I wouldn't expect mold to easily grow. I tend to just use cold water. Any temp up to boiling is fine. Once you start to boil it you invert the sugars and change the flavor and sweetness.

                                        2. I'm a fan of Dale Degroff's method of equal parts sugar/water shaken up using no heat. It seems to take all the variable out and make a consistent ingredient.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: white light

                                            I agree about using the no heat and shake method, although that isn't Dale's 'method', but one used in general. He just adopted it, along with many others, and since he is King Cocktail, it is sometimes attributed to him. But if you ask him he will tell you it was around long before.