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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Simple Syrups, Tonics, and Bitters: Part 1

If you've stopped by Bazaar Spices or browsed the website, you might have noticed that we have a lot of herbs and botanicals with funny-sounding names and the occasional odd smell (I'm looking at you, Valerian.) And if you keep up with food trends, you might have noticed that making your own bitters, tonics, and simple syrups is all the rage. Luckily for you, we have a handy dandy starting guide to help you do just that. Read on for part one of our series, where we dive into the world of simple syrups.


First thing's first: let's start with the most basic, The Simple Syrup. If you can boil water, you can make simple syrup.

At its simplest form, simple syrup is a one to one ratio of water to sugar, simmered briefly until the sugar dissolves, then cooled and added to drinks. As the simple things are wont to do, simple syrups are getting more complicated - some mixologists swear by a cold process method so as not to thicken the liquid and change the viscosity of drinks, others say you should use twice the amount of sugar to water, and then others add fruits, herbs, or spices to their syrups to give a more complex flavor to the finished drink.

This is where we come in.

I might have gone off the simple syrup deep end. Here are some of my favorite combinations and a few that I'm going to try next -- as soon as I finish all the syrups pictured above, that is. And, although I divide the combinations up by alcohol pairing, you can of course use these in non-cocktail applications. Let the simmering begin!

For tequila:
For whiskey/bourbon/rye:
For gin: 
To make a simple syrup with any of these ingredients, bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a simmer with the desired amount of flavorings added. Simmer briefly, and, depending on the ingredient and if you want a strong or light flavor, allow to steep. Don't be scared to try experimenting until you get the flavor you like! You can also start with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar if you're worried about wasting ingredients. If you're avoiding sugar, use other sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or stevia, but just be prepared to adjust the amounts a little as these sweeteners vary in their sweetness.

Once you've got your simple syrup, use it in cocktails, lemonade, iced coffee or tea, homemade sodas, ice cream, sorbets, drizzled over fruit, or anywhere else you need a touch of flavored sweetness. 

Check back tomorrow to read about making your own tonics!

This post is part of our series on simple syrups, tonics, and bitters. For others in the series check out:
Simple Syrups, Tonics, and Bitters: Part 1
Simple Syrups, Tonics, and Bitters: Part 2
Simple Syrups, Tonics, and Bitters: Part 3

Kara Elder grew up playing in the kitchen cupboards and reading cookbooks for fun while watching her mom cook tasty Mexican meals. After graduating with a degree in Russian, she found herself increasingly interested in reading food blogs and planning menus. Kara, her mom, and her sister started a food blog of their own, The Troika Table. Kara is a Bazaar Spices Team Member and also works for Joan Nathan, a DC-based cookbook author and food writer. 

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