This stable of liqueur making and many a cocktail is quite simple to make, but if not done precisely, will yield horrific results. Timing, temperature and precise quantities are essential in this fairly simple recipe.   Don’t leave this unattended on the stovetop or be either impatient or blasé about timing.  Too quick and you may find your sugar has not dissolved fully and the syrup is grainy.  Too long and you may find you have hard caramel that’s nearly impossible to clean from your pot.
Sugar Syrup
That said, a great sugar syrup can be a cook or a mixologist’s best friend.

Sugar Syrup
Prep time
Mix time
Total time
Sugar syrup is a fundamental basic ingredient in most liqueur making. It is simple and fast to make; slow to cool, but worth the minimal effort. It is best to make it as needed, so memorize this simple 2-ingredient recipe.
Recipe type: Syrups
Cuisine: French
Serves: 1 Cup
  • 1 Cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup water, preferably distilled
  1. Sugar syrup is used to make homemade liqueurs.
  2. To make, the ratio is 1 part sugar to 2 parts water.
  3. Boil together for about 5 minutes at a full boil and be sure the sugar is dissolved.
  4. The syrup MUST be cool BEFORE adding the alcohol mixture as heat evaporates the alcohol in the liqueur.
PROPORTIONS: One cup syrup plus three cups 80 proof vodka equals 60 proof liqueur. Two cups syrup plus three cups 80 proof vodka equals 48 proof liqueur. If a 100 proof vodka is used, increase the sugar syrup by 1/8 cup.

For a “creme de” liqueur, double the amount of syrup called for in the recipe. The greater the amount added, the lower the alcoholic content. Sugar syrup should be adjusted to personal preference and to the outcome of the liqueur’s taste since variation can occur. See recipes for the following Liqueurs: Banana, Blueberry, Cherry, Cranberry, Orange, Papaya, Pear, Peach, Apricot, Raspberry, Plum, Pineapple, Chocolate, Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Coconut, Coffee, Orange and Coffee Bean Cordial, Almond, Almond Tasty, Tea, Vanilla Cream, Vanilla Pecan, Ginger, Licorice, Cinnamon, Peppermint, Spicy Herbal.

Health food stores will have the best selection for many of the ingredients. Frozen, canned or dry fruits may be used BUT flavors will often not be as full.

Herbs, nuts, and extracts may be added and/or substituted in recipes creating an endless variety of combinations. Try a few basic recipes before experimenting to develop a feel for proportions.

Liqueurs should mature as indicated in the recipe before drinking. Storing tends to round out the taste and flavor. Be sure to keep a record of ingredients, amounts, time aged, etc. for troubleshooting and to assure you can repeat the recipe. Batches may vary for a variety of reasons, such as the freshness of fruit, aging time, etc.

TIPS/INFO: Herb and spice flavorings are very potent so begin with a small

amount – 1/4 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons

Nuts and herbs MUST be crushed or broken to release full flavor – Be sure to scrape off all the white rind on orange or lemon peels or a bitter taste will result

Blot peels on paper towels to dry off oils and water

Ripeness of fruit can affect the final outcome of taste – If too weak, add more flavoring and resteep or try 1/4 teaspoon extract – To sweeten, the ratio is approximately 1 ounce to 4 ounces – If sour or bitter, add more sugar syrup – If too sweet, add a bit of lemon and resteep for a week – To thicken, add glycerine (1 or 2 teaspoons per quart) which is available at most drugstores and wine-making shops.

Strain and then filter liqueur once it has aged. To strain, first use a regular strainer and then restrain the fruits and nuts. Squeeze out as much juice as possible.

FINALLY, filter the strained juice to achieve a clean finished product. Place a coffee filter or a paper filter in a funnel and pour juice slowly, stirring to prevent clogging. Replace filter as required and repeat process if any residue is apparent.


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