Sam Horwitz's Classic Cocktail Compendium

(With photos)


Syrups & Cordials

Homemade syrups are a very important part of a making a good cocktail. However, in the time since I initially compiled these recipes, it seems that there has been a rebirth of quality ready-made syrups. I have begun using Liber & Co. syrups instead of making my own.

It is important to practice good food prep safety and be aware of the risks of preserving food and how to avoid these risks. Rich simple syrups should have some level of natural self-preservation, however this will be maximized with storage in clean, airtight, and sanitized bottles.

Demerara gum syrup

There are many different variations of simple syrup but for all the cocktails on this blog, demerara gum syrup is a good choice.

A lot of recipes exist online for gum syrup, however I have not personally made it. I use premade Liber & Co. demerara gum syrup, instead. Homemade rich demerara syrup, sans gum, is a good, simpler, substitute. This syrup is simply 2∶1 ratio of sugar to water (by mass), where the sugar is dissolved into the water as it simmers.

In descending substitution desirability:

  1. Demerara gum syrup (2∶1 ratio of sugar to water with gum arabic)
  2. Rich demerara syrup (2∶1 ratio of sugar to water without gum arabic; use in same amount)
  3. Simple demerara syrup (1∶1 ratio of sugar to water; use in greater amount, to taste)
  4. Demerara sugar (use 2 teaspoons or 8 grams in place of 2 teaspoons of gum or rich syrup; muddle with a splash of soda water or any non-alcoholic ingredients prior to mixing the drink with ice and alcohol)
  5. Non-demerara syrups or sugar following the same substitution descension as above, beginning with gum syrup. Prefer other raw sugars with white sugar being the least desirable substitute.

In certain drinks, white sugar syrup may be more desirable than demerara sugar syrup. This will be noted in the recipe.

Grenadine

Grenadine is a pomegranate based syrup that is known for it’s bright red color. Grocery store grenadines, such as Rose’s, are often just artificial red syrup.

Fresh pomegranate juice is needed in order to make grenadine. ToriAvey.com has a great article on how to juice your own pomegranates (I have had great luck with the “underwater” method). If you use bottled pomegranate juice, the color of the grenadine will be murky and brown rather than vivid red. You should instead just purchase high quality premade grenadine from Liber & Co.

  • 4 fluid ounces of fresh pomegranate juice
  • 8 fluid ounces of white sugar
  • ¼ fluid ounce (1½ teaspoons) of orange flower water

White sugar is used as to not cloud the final color and I prefer to use volume rather than mass for the ratios.

Pour the pomegranate juice and sugar into a pot. Turn on your stove to a low temperature and stir the sugar into the juice until fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the orange flower water. Allow the mixture to cool. Bottle and keep refrigerated.

Raspberry syrup

As with the grenadine, the raspberry syrup requires fresh juice. If you do not want to go through the hassle of juicing raspberries, you may just purchase high quality premade raspberry syrup from Liber & Co.

  • 4 fluid ounces of fresh raspberry juice
  • 8 fluid ounces of white sugar

White sugar is used as to not cloud the final color and I prefer to use volume rather than mass for the ratios.

Pour the raspberry juice and sugar into a pot. Turn on your stove to a low temperature and stir the sugar into the juice until fully dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool. Bottle and keep refrigerated.

Cinnamon syrup

This is an ingredient that is called for in many tiki cocktails as well as a component of Don’s Mix. Donn Beach referred to it in secret recipes as “Spices #4”. A high quality premade version from B. G. Reynolds may be purchased instead.

  • 8 fluid ounces of water
  • 8 fluid ounces of white or demerara sugar
  • 3 large cinnamon sticks (6 if they are small)

Crush up the cinnamon sticks and combine all of the ingredients in a pot. Turn on your stove to a low temperature and stir the sugar into the water until fully dissolved. Allow the mixture to simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow the mixture to cool and infuse for at least two hours. Strain, bottle and keep refrigerated.

Lime cordial

The most famous lime cordial on the market is Rose’s. However, just like their grenadine, it is mostly dyed syrup with some flavoring. You may purchase a premade alternative from B. G. Reynolds; I have not yet sampled it however I am a fan of their other offerings.

  • 4 fluid ounces of fresh lime juice
  • 4 fluid ounces of white sugar
  • The zest of 4 limes

Combine the lime juice and sugar in a pot and slowly heat. Remove from heat right at the start of boil. Allow to cool to around room temperature and add the lime zests. Let the zests steep for 15 minutes before straining and bottling. Recipe borrowed from Todd Appel.

Orgeat

Orgeat syrup is an almond-based syrup used mostly in tiki drinks.

Rather than make your own, Liber & Co. have released a great premade orgeat, which is even easier to use. There are other producers of real orgeat syrup now as well, but make sure the ingredients resemble the ingredients below. Most grocery store orgeat is lightly-flavored almond simple syrup, not a true orgeat.

Kevin of Craft Cocktails at Home has an extremely easy recipe. Many recipes call for blanching your own almonds but Kevin sidesteps this by using almond milk.

  • 184 grams of unsweetened and unflavored almond milk
  • 88 grams of demerara sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon of almond extract
  • ¹⁄₁₆ teaspoon of orange flower water

Combine all ingredients in sanitized bottle and shake until mixed. I used 365 Brand almond milk from Whole Foods and Kevin recommends Pacific Brand. Kevin says to look for brands that are least viscous and least salty; I also kept an eye out for brands that didn’t add in extra protein sources (some almond milk brands included pea protein and other proteins).

The specific choice of 184 grams of almond milk is due to the fact that this is equivalent to 6 fluid ounces of Pacific Brand Almond Milk.

Don’s Mix

Don’s mix was a proprietary flavoring blend created by Donn Beach for early tiki drinks.

Thanks to the work of Beachbum Berry, it is now known that Don’s mix is a 2∶1 mix of white grapefruit juice to cinnamon syrup. The problem with making your own is that white grapefruits are notoriously hard to find. It is easiest to purchase B. G. Reynolds’ Paradise Blend, however you can also substitute non-white grapefruits, keeping in mind that modern-day red and pink grapefruits are sweeter.

Falernum

Falernum is a syrup or syrup liqueur flavored with ginger, lime, almond, allspice, and cloves.

The most popular homemade falernum is Paul Clarke’s Falernum #9. This recipe can be found detailed in many places online. I’ve only made it once and while it was great, I now, out of laziness, purchase John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, an alcoholic syrup liqueur, which claims to be the original. Non-alcoholic falernum syrups from various producers also exist.