How to Infuse Simple SyrupThere are tons of different directions online for infusing simple syrup, and I couldn’t find a clear answer on the best way to do it.  So I decided to do my own experiment.  This week we’re infusing mint into simple syrup using four different methods.  Which of the following methods would you expect to be best?

 

 

Methods Attempted:

In all of the below, ingredient proportions are identical and the simple syrup was simmered for exactly 5 minutes.

  1. Simmer mint in simple syrup for the full 5 minutes
  2. Add mint halfway through simmer.  Leave mint in the simple syrup for another 2.5 minutes after heat is turned off
  3. Add mint for 5 minutes starting the moment the heat is turned off
  4. Simple Syrup allowed to cool.  Mint is added and left in the simple syrup for ~3 days

What do you think?  What flavors would you expect to be present in each of the above?

 

 

As promised, here’s a link to the last Simple Syrup video, which discussed “normal” vs “rich” simple syrup.

 

Here are the results:

Method #1: Simmer mint in simple syrup for the full 5 minutes:

It had the deepest extraction of mint flavor, though it almost tasted overdone. You have these deep, dark woody flavors of mint, but it also has some of the bitter characteristics of the mint as well. It’s not a bad thing, but keep that in mind when you design a cocktail. Overall, I’d say it has a much stronger flavor.

 

Method #2: Add mint halfway through simmer. Leave mint in the simple syrup for another 2.5 minutes after heat is turned off:

This time we saw a nice extraction of mint, similar to the first try, but without the bitterness. It also preserves a lot of the floral qualities. In my opinion it tastes just like Wrigley’s spearmint gum from when I was a kid – a flavor I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with.

 

Method #3: Add mint for 5 minutes starting the moment the heat is turned off:

This simple syrup is very light and fragrant. The focus of this syrup is more floral and delicate. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get the deep extraction that we saw in methods #1-2.

 

Method #4: Simple Syrup allowed to cool. Mint is added and left in the simple syrup for ~3 days:

This one surprised me – the mint flavor is very light and the mint is barely noticeable. I would stay away from this type of extraction because the minute you add any spirit or mixer, the mint will get lost.

 

My Preference:

I was really surprised at the results of this experiment – I expected to like the first version the best, but ended up liking the second more.  Given our results, what kind of cocktails would you use for the various methods?

Any suggestions?  Let us know what you think!

 

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