There is the right way, the wrong way, and sometimes the cowboy way — a shortcut that one uses for expedience or necessity.
I like to have simple syrup in the refrigerator for cold drinks, and especially for Old Fashioneds and mint juleps. But making it the right way tries my patience.
I know that to make either drink properly you’re supposed to muddle the sugar with the flavoring — bitters for the Old Fashioned, mint for the julep — but the sugar never dissolves completely. Or maybe I just don’t have the patience to do it right, it could be that, too.
Either way, I use syrup. A teaspoon of syrup into the Bourbon and bitters and your Old Fashioned just needs ice and garnish.
And I even make the syrup wrong, probably, but it works perfectly, I like it and it’s easy and so I’m going to tell you how to make it in case you don’t already know.
The way you’re supposed to make simple syrup is to heat the sugar in the water until it dissolves. Then you have to wait for it to cool and then you can put it in your container and into the fridge.
I don’t have the patience for this.
I just throw two parts sugar — I like raw, but you can use white — and one part water into the blender and let ‘er rip at the highest speed. Let it go for a good minute and then check to make sure everything’s dissolved. If it needs another 30 seconds in the blender, go ahead.
Then you pour it into a squeeze bottle or whatever you’re going to use, and you’re done. I always use two parts sugar to one of water, because I like the viscosity that even a little of it gives to a drink. But one-to-one is fine, too, if that’s how you like it.
And if you don’t have a blender, you can even make syrup by putting your sugar and water into a covered container and shaking it really hard for two minutes, letting it sit for a minute, and then shaking it again for 30 seconds. This is too much trouble for me, but I’ve done it.
The blender trick also works for mint syrup, but here especially any purists who might come across this post will scoff, and I will scoff with them — it’s not the Right Way.
Still, it works and it tastes really good.
You just take a fistful of mint leaves, throw them in the blender with your two parts sugar and one part water and let it rip for a minute or two, maybe less in a Vitamix, until it looks like you couldn’t strain anything out of it in even the finest cheesecloth. Put it in your squeeze bottle or whatever and you have mint syrup.
It looks like cloudy green sludge, I warn you. But it tastes great — fresh mint and sugar. It keeps for a long time in the refrigerator and it’s good in tea, too.
I realize that aside from the proportions of two parts sugar to one part water, which makes a product that’s twice as concentrated as true simple syrup, I haven’t told you how much mint to use. The answer is that I haven’t found that it matters too much. I’ve used maybe a cup of leaves to two cups of sugar, and twice that much, and they were both sweet and minty.
So try it, and even if you live in Bucharest or New York City, you’ll still be making something very useful and tasty the cowboy way.