Syrups (plain, grenadine, orgeat)


Sugar syrup is used to quickly incorporate sugar into mixed drinks.  Sugar syrup is also known as simple syrup.  If gum Arabic is added to thicken the syrup, it is called gum syrup, or gomme syrup.  I believe that one should consider the amount of sugar desired in a drink, and then calculate how much sugar syrup will contain that amount of sugar.  For this, the use of one-to-one (1:1) sugar syrup is advised.

To make 1:1 sugar syrup, sugar is combined with water.  The water may be cold or room temperature, but not hot.  High heat breaks the sugar (sucrose) into simpler sugars (fructose and glucose) that have different levels of sweetness and aftertaste.

To make 1:1 sugar syrup, combine equal parts (by volume) of sugar and water in a bowl.  Whisk or stir until the sugar appears to be fully dissolved.  Quickly pour this into an appropriately-sized bottle using a funnel.  Cap the bottle and shake the syrup until you are quite sure that all the sugar is dissolved.  Use a label or bit of masking tape to mark the date on the bottle.  Refrigerate the bottle of sugar syrup when it is not being used.  Discard it after two weeks.

If one makes 1:1 sugar syrup from a cup of sugar and a cup of water, the yield will be almost exactly 1 ½ cups of syrup.  That means that the cup of sugar is spread out into the volume of 1 ½ cups of syrup.  That means that if you know the amount of sugar that you want in a drink, but are using 1:1 sugar syrup, simply multiple the sugar amount by 1.5.  The following table gives some common sugar amounts and their 1:1 sugar syrup equivalents (for those that don’t like to do math very much).  (click on the image to enlarge it)


For grenadine syrup, “Pomegranate (Grenadine) Infused Simple Syrup” by the Sonoma Syrup Co. is recommended.  It is also recommended to custom make grenadine syrup as follows:

32 fl-oz. (4 cups) pure pomegranate juice

2 cups granulated sugar

2 fl-oz. brandy

Pour the pomegranate juice in a saucepan and place over heat.  Reduce by half until its volume is 16 fl-oz. (2 cups).  Remove from heat.  Add the sugar and whisk or stir thoroughly until fully dissolved.  Add the brandy to aid in preservation.  Stir.  Let cool and pour into clean, dry bottles.  Label and cap or cork.  Store under refrigeration.


For orgeat syrup, it is recommended to make it as follows (at least until one of the boutique syrup companies currently selling so-called ‘orgeat’ changes their methods to include the bitter almond):

4 cups slivered almonds (common almonds, blanched, peeled & slivered)

5 cups pure water

1-2 fluid-scruples (1.25 ml. – 2.5 ml.) bitter almond essence (Dr. Oetker’s “Bitter-Mandel” from Germany – available in single fluid-scruple vials, four to a package)

1 barspoon (2.5 ml.| ½ tsp.) orange blossom water

4 cups granulated sugar

4 fl-oz. brandy

Place the almonds in a large bowl.  Pour the water into the bowl and be sure that it covers the almonds.  Cover and let stand several hours.  Use a muddler or pestle to crush the almonds.  Let stand several hours more.  Strain as much of the almond milk as possible from the almonds (one effective method is to use a ‘French press’ style manual coffee press to press the almond milk in several batches).  Measure out four cups of the almond milk (which should be most of the preparation to this point).  To the four cups of almond milk, add 1 or 2 fluid-scruples (according to preference)  of bitter almond essence and the orange blossom water.  Stir thoroughly.  Add the sugar and whisk or stir thoroughly until fully dissolved.  Add the brandy to aid in preservation.  Stir.  Pour into clean, dry bottles.  Label and cap or cork.  Store under refrigeration and shake thoroughly before use.

Note – it is not possible to make traditional orgeat syrup without the flavor of bitter almond being present.  This was originally done by using almonds of both the common and bitter types together from which to raise the almond milk.  Raw bitter almonds have a greater cyanide content than do common almonds.  They are now illegal (in their raw form) in the U.S.A.  That requires the use of essence of bitter almond in the making of orgeat syrup (and marzipan, etc.) in the U.S.A.  Fear not, the cyanide is cooked out during the processing of bitter almond essence.

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