In-House Syrups

Syrups are a useful addition to any bartender’s arsenal when making drinks. They provide a fantastic basis for adding flavour to a drink, whilst contributing towards the sweetness/balance required for a good mixed drink. This article will explore the pros and cons of making syrups in-house, as well as the best techniques to use to produce unique flavours.

What Are Syrups?
In essence, syrup (as far as the bar industry is concerned) is a mixture of sugar and water, providing bartenders with a liquid sweetener that can be used in place of granulated sugars, which don’t tend to dissolve quite as well in cold drink preparations. Most of you will know this as gomme (a ratio of 2:1 sugar to water) or simple syrup (a ratio of 1:1 Sugar to Water). Aside from simply adding sweetness to a drink, syrups can also be infused with a variety of different ingredients to also add flavour to a drink. 

Although there are many commercially available syrups on the market, comprised of an almost endless list of flavours, a trend has emerged whereby bars are starting to look towards bringing syrup production in-house, for a variety of reasons. There are many advantages to making syrups within your venue.

Creating new, bespoke flavours hard to find commercially
In an ever evolving bar industry, bartenders are often looking to break boundaries within the confines of flavours in drinks. By making your own syrups, this opens a world of possibilities far beyond what is commercially available for bars to purchase. This in turn allows for diversity of flavour on menus, gifting the customer the chance to try new and interesting drinks using lesser found ingredients. 

Harnessing perishable ingredients
Frequently in bartending, there can often be a significant amount of wastage of fresh ingredients that get used in drinks, particularly if it is an ingredient that is specific only to one serve. If that drink underperforms compared to forecast, operators can end up throwing away an unnecessary amount of fresh produce. As sustainability in bars has risen to be such a hot topic in the last year, many operators have looked to find ways to reduce their wastage as much as possible. In concentrating the essence/flavour of a perishable ingredient into a syrup or modifier, this can improve the shelf life of said ingredient by a long amount. 

Concentration of Flavour
There are certain ingredients that do not impart a great deal of flavour when added to cold liquids in their raw format (e.g. coriander seeds). In order to achieve a consistent and concentrated flavour that can then be added to mixed drinks, bartenders may carry out a longer process of infusion, or cook said ingredients in water in order to extract a stronger flavour, that can then be harnessed in a syrup

The Beat Society: In-House Syrups

In recent years, consumers have begun to change the way in which they imbibe, with many placing an emphasis on the importance of ‘craft’ in mixed drinks. Whilst we could debate for days as to the definition of ‘craft’ (or whether it exists at all!) one can safely draw the assumption that consumer seeking ‘craft cocktails’, would expect that the drinks they order contain some homemade ingredients. Although this may seem trivial, the addition of homemade ingredients such as syrups can increase the craft credentials of your bar, and in turn, attract a consumer base willing to increase your profits!

When considering whether or not to make homemade syrups in your bar, although the prospect may seem appealing, there are certain considerations that need to be weighed up to evaluate the benefit of carrying out this process.  Here are some common pitfalls:

Although on the surface, the preparation of syrups may seem relatively easy, it can often be a time consuming process. With the exception of techniques such as producing syrups from juices (explained below) certain ingredients may require longer extraction times, or a greater degree of care when being prepared. As a result, you may find that the time spent creating the bespoke ingredients may well not be worth it in the long run, 
if it eats into setup time or overheads.

When dealing with raw ingredients, 
it can often be hard to achieve a high consistency of flavour and or quality when creating syrups. If you have an unreliable supplier, or are using an ingredient which is extremely seasonal, this can lead to complications down the line which would in turn lead to a poorer quality of drink. Quite often, bar operators may find that a product available commercially may do a better job in terms of providing a good quality supply of consistent flavour, which would negate the need to produce syrups in-house.

Cost Effectiveness
Linked somewhat to the first point concerning time, there may be occasions whereby creating syrups in-house may simply not be a cost effective process. The prep time for making syrups will need to be covered by wages, as well as the equipment required to prepare the ingredients. In addition, when using ingredients in a smaller quantity, this can lead to an increased cost of goods in the long run, which ultimately would lead your syrups to be very expensive in terms of production. If you compare this to a large scale producer who buys raw ingredients in bulk, they are likely to achieve a more cost effective economy of scale, and therefore offer a cheaper alternative to your homemade syrup.

Cold Infusion/Warm Infusion of Raw Ingredients
One of the most common ways to create a syrup is by adding flavour to water using a raw ingredient, then mixing said water with sugar until it reaches the required sweetness (or even making a syrup first and infusing ingredients afterwards!). If you don’t have access to a lot of equipment in order to do this, the infusion can simply be achieved by steeping your raw ingredients in water/syrup. Some ingredients with a lighter chemical structure may not require the application of heat in order to extract flavour. In this instance, ingredients can simply be soaked in cold water/syrup for a period of time until the water has adopted the required amount of flavour (for example vanilla). However, raw ingredients with a more robust chemical structure may require the water or syrup/ingredient mixture to be heated in order to extract the right amount of flavour. This can be done by using preheated water from a kettle, or by using a saucepan and hob.

The Beat Society: In-House Syrups

Sous Vide
Linked to warm infusion of raw ingredients, the process of cooking Sous Vide has become increasingly popular in bartending in order to harness flavour. The process of cooking ingredients sous vide involves sealing your raw ingredients in a contained environment (ideally a vacuum pack bag), and immersing the bag or container into water which is maintained at a consistent temperature (i.e. a water bath). The benefit of preparing/infusing syrups sous vide as opposed to a simple warm infusion is that by sealing your ingredients in a contained environment when cooking, this can prevent a loss of flavour or aroma through evaporation. In addition, cooking sous vide can promote a higher level of consistency in homemade products, as it allows you to eliminate potential variables which may affect the way in which the ingredients cook (e.g. contamination in a saucepan, variance in temperature in the air). Once upon a time, the necessary equipment required to cook sous vide was relatively expensive. However, in recent years, a number of more affordable pieces of kit have appeared on the market, making the process more accessible to both  bartenders and consumers alike. 

Cold Compounding
Cold compounding of syrups is where one would take a ready made syrup or gomme, and simply add a finite amount of a pre-made flavouring or essence and stir it in. Although this may seem like ‘cheating’, there are several advantages to cold compounding. Quite frequently, certain flavours that a bartender might want to use in order to make a drink may be extremely expensive in their raw format, or it may be very hard to extract the required taste/aroma. There are several reputable companies in the market that have the required equipment and/or funding in order to create concentrates or essences of a very high quality that harness these types of flavours. In adding these essences as opposed to creating a syrup from a raw ingredient, one can ensure both a high consistency and quality of flavour.

From Juices
Rather than complicated process such as cooking ingredients or infusing via sous vide, some syrups can simply be made by adding sugar to a juice that is already commercially available. The most common instance of this in bars is often Grenadine, which can be prepared by simply mixing two parts of sugar to one part of pure pomegranate juice. Preparing syrups from juices can have advantages where the required yield of juice can be hard to obtain cheaply on a small scale (such as cranberry).

In-House Syrups
The process of making homemade syrups can be fun
Expanding a bartender’s knowledge and library of flavours in order to make drinks for the customer. However, one should take into consideration whether or not the process is actually required within the bar to achieve a certain objective, or whether or not it is a process for process’ sake!

Welcome to the BEAT Society

To enter this website you must be of legal drinking age in your country.

By entering this website you agree to Pernod Ricard UK's Terms and conditions, Cookie policy and Privacy policy.