Syrups: Keeping it Simple

06 February, 2013

(image: Thinkstock)

Rikki Brodrick from tequila venue the Pull and Pump in Brighton, UK, says fermentation can occur. He says when he worked at famous London Tiki bar Trailer Happiness, he used to make his own ginger beer syrup.

He adds: “Homemade syrup can start to ferment. If it’s not in the fridge, it will only last a couple of days. When you make it, you have to make sure the bottles are clean and it often takes a lot of time. But if you do have time, make it yourself because the whole serve becomes so much nicer.”

Brodrick once made a sage syrup for a drink called The Mexican Headhunter that featured in Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry’s book, Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks. He says he had to make the syrup via cold infusion to avoid the herb becoming bitter with the addition of boiling water. “It took four days to make 3.5 litres of sage syrup. I would like to see more herb syrups out there – perhaps a coriander one,” he adds.  

Horncastle says certain homemade syrups add an extra special touch to cocktails. “Our Earl Grey and grapefruit syrup lasts about a week, whatever we don’t use we have to throw away and remake. This can result in quite a bit of waste, however, its what the recipe calls for and big brands don’t make some of the crazier syrups that only one or two bars in a country will use – for obvious reasons.”

There are some flavours that have proved just too much hassle to recreate behind the bar. Brodrick says one of his favourite syrups is passion fruit. “Giffard makes a good one,” he adds. Stapleton says: “At CellarDoor we use Monin Gingerbread as when we have tried making it ourselves the balance of flavour has always been off, so using a brand means you will get a consistent flavour.

“When making syrups I usually find that going heavy on the main flavour is best as sometimes when you use a subtle flavour such as vanilla it can get overpowered by the sweetness of the sugar. The flavour will then get lost in a cocktail, so it’s best to go bold with the main flavour.”

Intense and complex

Guerreiro is also a big fan of Monin’s Gingerbread syrup. He says it’s very intense and complex. “It goes very well with after-dinner drinks such as coffees, whiskies, cognacs and rum.”

Stapleton says colder months mean warm spices are popular, including cinnamon, clove and ginger. “I have a homemade winter syrup at the bar made with orange, orange zest, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, thyme and vanilla. It goes well with dark rum.”

As well as spices, Guerreiro says herbs and fruits remain popular as well as syrups with a pastry dessert base such as pecan pie, blueberry pie and tart au citron.

The sheer number of syrup flavours on offer is mind-blowing. Giffard’s syrup range now includes 67 flavours, while Monin’s range boasts some 140 flavours. Giffard’s selection ranges from classic cocktail flavours such as Grenadine, Coconut, Orgeat and Raspberry to sugar syrups including brown and white sugar as well as agave; to tea syrups that include Chai tea, Earl Grey, Green Tea with Citrus Fruits. 

Keywords: Syrups, simple syrup

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