Simple syrup -- that cocktail mixer of one part water to one part sugar -- is so easy to make at home that you'd be crazy not to skip paying for it favour of boiling your own water, sugar, and optional flavorings. But if you don't have a heat source readily available and still need a little sweetener, we have a simple syrup method that's great in a pinch.
- A clean, tight-lipped jar (I don't recommend using canning jars)
- Granulated sugar (the finer the better)
- The warmest water you can get out of the tap
- Elbow grease
Here's how to do it:
- Add equal parts water and sugar to your jar in your desired amount, making sure the jar is not more than 2/3 full. Seal the jar as tightly as possible.
- Shake the heck out of it continuously for 2 minutes.
- Return the jar to its upright position and carefully remove the lid. You're ready to make a mojito, gimlet or whatever else your heart desires!
Note that this method applies to regular simple syrup, which is one part sugar to one part water. Rich simple syrup -- another variation of simple syrup that's two parts sugar to one part water -- will also work if you double the shaking time to about 4 minutes. When making rich simple syrup, the sugar granules won't dissolve completely, but I've found for most applications that it works well enough.
The syrup isn't quite as smooth and glossy as the kind you'd make over a pot on the stove (see the fast version on the left, next to the traditional version on the right, above), but it's a fantastic substitute if you need simple syrups for cocktails.