Hey! Ya know what’s fun? Drinking! I’ve always said that, but usually it’s slurred and with one eye half closed. It’s a national pastime here in America. Hell, it’s a global pastime here on Earth, and it’s something on which I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons. When you’re young and you start drinking, you don’t know anything about it. It’s a scary yet magical world where you still think that Smirnoff Ice is a good drink, and only two of them will get you hammered! Back then, you drank what was available. For me, that was always the quadruple distilled homeless urine that is Sir Robert Burnett’s Vodka. My friends and I would pool our money together on Thursday, give it to whichever older sibling was willing to purchase it and we’d have our very own handle of vodka to split for the weekend. During this time, there was but one type of vodka made by Burnett’s, and that was Burnett’s Vodka. Delinquent high schoolers today have nearly THIRTY different flavors of Burnett’s to choose from, ranging from cherry and watermelon to sweet tea and sugar cookie. In our teenage naiveté, we knew nothing of mixed drinks or cocktails. We merely opened a bottle of Coke, chugged some Burnett’s Rubbing Alcohol and chased it down with the aforementioned Coke. This plan worked, for a time, because I didn’t know any better, but now I do. It’s been a long and arduous process (It really hasn’t been arduous, I just wanted to use the word arduous), but I have started drinking better, so now, I’m going to try and help you to do the same.
The first step is learning the basics. There’s tons of equipment that you can buy to help you in the process of becoming a more complete alcoholic, but those things cost money. Money that I don’t have because I spent it on alcohol. Do I own a jigger/pony shot glass? Yes, I do. Do you HAVE to have one to make mixed drinks? Absolutely not. The same goes for cocktail shakers and Hawthorne strainers. They are nice things to own, but they aren’t necessary. If I were to make the world’s greatest alfredo sauce and stir it with a plastic spoon from Walmart as opposed to a wooden spoon from William Sonoma, it wouldn’t make the sauce taste differently. It’s really about the ingredients. So today, I teach you one of the more simple ingredients in cocktail making. It’s an ingredient that’s so simple, it’s even NAMED “simple”. Simple Syrup.
Simple syrup is a vital part of cocktail making because sugar isn’t known for its ability to dissolve in cold liquids, so if a cocktail needs to be sweetened, you can’t just dump a spoonful of sugar in the glass. It’ll drop to the bottom and make the final gulp of the drink a diabetic’s nightmare. The best way to offset this is to turn that granulated sugar into a syrup.
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
Ya see that? That’s all it takes. It’s a basic 1:1 ratio of water to sugar for all you math geeks out there. Get yourself a sauce pan, pour in the water and place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Pour the sugar into the water and stir until it’s dissolved. Pull the pan off of the heat and let it cool. Once that’s happened, feel free to transfer the simple syrup to a fancy little squirt bottle for your future mixological needs. The possibilities are boundless for simple syrup. You can even infuse your simple syrups by throwing a few mint leaves or pieces of ginger into the pot while it’s on the stove. It’s a vital ingredient in some other bar necessities like sour mix and grenadine. It’s perfect to make mojitos and mint juleps. For our straight edge or AA brethren (the second A is for anonymous, but you know who you are), a few squirts of the simple syrup into iced tea will transform it into a glass of southern style sweet tea like momma used to make.
I feel like the length of this article vs. the length of the recipe is kind of a screw job, but life ain’t about the destination, son. It’s about the journey. So carry on, my wayward son. There’ll be peace when….Oh wait…that’s Kansas. Whatever! Cheers.