How to make sugar syrup

Words by Simon Difford

You can buy proprietary brands of sugar syrup, or if you'd prefer to make your own, I recommend making a 'rich' two parts sugar to one part water (2:1) syrup.

White caster sugar is most commonly used but also consider using a dark sugar to make a syrup for use in cocktails based on dark spirits, such as an Old-Fashioned.

  1. Pour one cup of filtered or mineral water into a clean saucepan.
  2. Add one cup (the same size as used for the water) of caster sugar (dissolves easier than granulated) and stir using a clean stainless-steel spoon (not a wooden spoon).
  3. Place on low heat and continue to stir briskly until all the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Gradually add a second cup of sugar into the saucepan stirring as the sugar is added.
  5. Heating helps the sugar to dissolve in the water but also has the negative effect of changing the sugar's physical properties. The more heat that is applied, the more the sucrose will break down to the less viscous but sweeter glucose and fructose. So do not let the water even come close to boiling and only gently heat for as long as it takes to dissolve the sugar. (The temperature should be low enough to be able to comfortably touch the sides of the pan.)

  6. Allow syrup to cool and pour into a sterile empty bottle. Ideally, you should finely strain your syrup into the bottle to remove any undissolved crystals which could otherwise encourage crystallisation.
  7. If kept in a refrigerator this mixture will keep for six months.

After making your syrup you'll notice that 1 cup water and 2 cups of sugar don't produce 3 cups of sugar syrup. Surprisingly the result is less than 1.5 cups of syrup. The reason for this is that the sugar dissolves into the water, occupying spaces between the water molecules.

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