Cocktail Syrups

07 February, 2014

Both Monin and Giffard are keeping 2014’s new flavours under wraps for now. Bill Hinkebein, vice-president, marketing at American Beverages Marketers, the maker of Finest Call Cocktail Mixes and Coco Re’al Cream of Coconut, believes “not all flavoured syrups are created equal”. And, as you might expect, he holds his own in pretty high regard. 

“There are dozens of family and corporate brands of the old-style flavoured syrups: cane sugar mixed with artificial and/or natural flavourings,” he says.

“Some of these brands offer an astonishing 150 flavours or more. These products have traditionally been used as coffee flavourings or mixed with soda water or tonic to create flavoured sodas. Increasingly, some flavoured syrups are used in making cocktails and long drinks,” he adds, getting into his stride. 

“Finest Call syrups are a step ahead of these traditional flavoured syrups, for the reason of their fruit juice content. Finest Call is one of the few brands that actually uses real and fresh juice in its syrup products.”

Natural and fresh ingredients  are important to many bartenders and, when it comes to the ‘real deal’, we stumble upon the age-old conflict: bartenders want to make their own unique flavours but brands offer consistency – and longer shelf life through pasteurisation.

Giffard’s Godefroy says:  “We create gourmet, natural and authentic syrups that must be as close as possible to homemade syrups.” 

Monin also attempts to stay well and truly in touch with the bartender community through a series of competitions and its Monin Studio, designed for bartenders to come and try the products, opened last November in London. It’s the 54th Monin facility to open worldwide and it also features premium spirits brands, ready and waiting for innovative bartenders.

Syrups behind the bar 

For Kristo Tomingas at the Butterfly Lounge in Tallin, Estonia, branded syrups are a necessity. He says: “In Estonia we are not allowed to use homemade products when mixing drinks in bars so we have only been experimenting for our own pleasure.” 

Tomingas has created a buckthorn, rhubarb and cloudberry syrup though it doesn’t appear in his bar’s cocktails.  “We co-operate with Monin syrups,” he says.  “So we also haven’t seen a big need for making the others ourselves. We use many cocktails made with different syrups as they work well for finding different, new tastes. The most interesting ones that we love to use are maybe fresh cucumber, basil and green tea.”

In France, Julien Escot, bar owner at Papa Doble in Montpellier, says branded syrups win over poorly created home mixes. “I will always prefer an industrial syrup better than a bad homemade one,” he says. 

But for Escot, who we are sure doesn’t sell a bad syrup, homemaking comes when he “can’t find a specific flavour or a level of quality with industrial brands”. His homemade syrups at the moment are rhubarb, spiced liquorice, grapefruit and velvet falernum. 

“I also make a ‘cordial de printemps’ which comprises freshly extracted cucumber juice, coriander, lemongrass and pepper berries,” he says.


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