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Simple Syrup vs. Alternative Sweeteners

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Comparing the sweetness of various cocktail sweetenersEver wondered what you can use as cocktail sweeteners aside from simple syrup?

This week we’re taking a look at some other common bar sweeteners – Honey, Agave Nectar and Maple Syrup, and comparing them with the grand-daddy of sweetening, simple syrup!



 Simple Syrup vs. Honey, Agave Nectar & Maple Syrup


The Test:

We have four glasses with exactly the same thing: 1 oz of lemon juice and 1 oz of water.  We’re going to compare how much of the three alternative sweeteners it takes to taste as sweet as adding exactly 1 oz of Simple Syrup.

Keep in mind that in our experiment – we used the alternative sweeteners in their unadulterated (non watered-down) form.


The Results:


How much sweetener did we end up adding to each glass to achieve a similar sweetness level as 1 oz of Simple Syrup?

  • Agave Nectar: 15 ml (1/2 oz / 0.507 oz)
  • Maple Syrup: 16 ml (~1/2 oz / 0.541 oz)
  • Honey:  18 ml (3/5ths oz / 0.608 oz)



I wasn’t, really that surprised that we used less of these sweeteners than simple syrup.  I normally water down honey behind the bar to prevent clumping – and I add 10-20%, which will likely bring it in line with Agave Nectar & Maple Syrup’s sweetness levels.


It’s not just Sweetness

Of course, when designing cocktails there is a lot more to consider than sweetness.  Each of the sweeteners we used brings its own flavor that can really add its own depth to your drink.  When do you typically use alternative sweeteners like honey, agave nectar and Maple syrup?  How have you adjusted for sweetness?

About the Author:

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.

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  • Sam

    Great advice! I loved the scientific method. I personally use Raw Organic Blue Agave syrup instead of simple syrup in almost all of my cocktails. You are absolutely right on the money with this video. I have found it adds a great depth of flavor and it seems to dilute quite well without watering it down, at least in shaken cocktails anyway. It seems to compliment the flavor of Reposado tequilas as well. Cheers!

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