The Quintessential Simple Syrup

Yes, we’re talking about that sugary syrup that makes everything taste so much better. Or does it?

If you’ve been bartending at home, you’ve probably messed this up on quite a few occasions. You’ve probably been winging it and working your cocktails to the taste – which is fabulous, but time-consuming. I’ll still give you brownie points for effort, because you’re already way ahead of the curve than those who’ve learned to make simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio by volume. 

1 cup sugar : 1 cup water, right?


If you ever wondered why your cocktails are coming out so sweet or aren’t sweet enough, you’ve got the recipe mixed up.

TIP #1 Measure by Weight

Simple syrup is a ratio of equal parts water and sugar by weight. 

Repeat after me.

White Sugar : Water :: 1:1 by weight and not volume. 

Why? Because 1 cup of sugar is not equal to 1 cup of water in weight

If you think about a cup of feathers and a cup of water, it becomes easier to understand. Feathers are way lighter than water but fill up the volume more. Same with sugar and water. I took some measurements to illustrate my point.

Measuring sugar by volume to create simple syrup

2 oz of sugar weighs roughly 55.5 grams.

While 2 oz of water weighs roughly 60 grams at room temperature.

What does this mean? Water is heavier than white granulated sugar. 

So if you combine sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio by volume, you’d get a simple syrup that is not sweet enough. 

To get the perfect sweetness, we suggest you measure your ingredients via weight, that way you don’t have to ensure that your jigger is fully full or just looks full – you know how it goes. 

1 gram of sugar for 1 gram of water.

And for those of you who don’t know, 1 gram of water is roughly 1 ml.

If you’re not using sugar, and you’re using other liquid sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, condensed milk – anything that has sweetness- this can become trickier to get the right mathematical formula, and will require a whole other blog to talk about. 


TIP #2 – Do not Overcook it.

Now that we have the formula figured out, let’s talk about how you should combine sugar and water. When I’ve asked at-home bartenders how they make their sugar syrup, I’ve noticed that a lot of people heat sugar and water over the stove top.

Here are 3 different ways to make simple syrup: 

Option 1. Heat water on-top of the stove. 

Heat water. As soon as it gets hot, add sugar. Stir to dissolve. 

As soon as you reach 80 degrees, or the syrup starts bubbling – remove it from the heat and cover it.

The problem with this is evaporation. When you heat water, you lose water and you lose accuracy. The result, something sweeter than you’d have wanted.

Option 2. Boil water before measuring

Use a kettle to boil water. Once it reaches 90 degrees, wait for it to cool down till 60 degrees. Mix weighted hot water and weighted sugar in a jar and stir.

Option 3. Use cold water and a Blender. 

Cold water or room temperature water are decent alternatives to use, if you have a really nice blender. Something like the Ninja or the Vitamix, oh yeah, the rotation itself will warm the liquid. Just don’t over blend, else, it’ll get too hot leading to evaporation. A few minutes will be enough.


If you want to know what my preferred method is, it’s option 3. Blender all the way.

I hope you take the recipe for simple syrup as seriously as you take the recipe for the rest of the cocktail. It’s truly amazing what a perfectly sweet simple syrup can do for your cocktail, and how it can elevate your game.

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