There will always be the eternal question of whether or not you should use commercially made syrups versus making your own. The easiest way to answer this question would be to ask yourself the following questions:
- Will you use it all?
- When do you need it next?
If the answer for the first question is “yes” followed by “tomorrow”, then by all means make your own. If otherwise, then I would advise on commercially made products due to increased shelf life and of course, consistency.
Generally speaking there are three types of sugar syrup, and this is determined by the amount of sugar (not the type of sugar). Bearing that in mind, you can make a variety of different sugar syrups by varying the concentration of sugar and the type, which can then be used to complement the base ingredients.
- SIMPLE SYRUP
The first sugar syrup to get the hang of is aptly named simple syrup. This is as easy as the name suggests. It is made by adding sugar to hot water and then stirring till dissolved. The ratio is super easy to remember too as it is 1:1 by weight (1kg of sugar to 1kg/ l of water. Once the sugar has dissolved, then it can be kept in the fridge for up to 7 days. However, ensure that it is labeled appropriately.
- RICH SYRUP
The next type of syrup is called rich syrup. As the name implies again, this has a higher concentration of sugar than the previous one. In fact it is twice the amount of sugar with the ratio being set at 2:1. This is made in exactly the same way by combining the sugar and hot water together and stirring till dissolved. Once again, a 7 day fridge life.
- ROCK SYRUP
The rock syrup method is very old fashioned, but still used on occasion. This is a massive increase in the amount of sugar at 4:1, meaning that a very little can go a long way. Useful when using smaller glass volumes. And finally, again we see a 7 day shelf life.
Now that you understand the basics of making the sugar syrup you can start to have fun with the different types of sugar and matching them to the various spirit categories. For example, if using a white rum, I would use a white sugar syrup. However, if you switched up to a gold or dark rum, I would use gold or demerara sugar.
Then things get really exciting because then you can start to add different flavours to compliment the base spirit. From vanilla to chill, the options are literally limitless as to what to add to a sugar.
You have two options: one is to add the flavouring in whilst the syrup is hot and the second is time. The longer you allow the flavouring to infuse, the more intense the flavour. Don’t forget you can arrest the infusion (stop it from progressing any further) by straining the syrup off the flavourings you added. We will be covering flavoured syrups in more detail in our next blog!