Experimenting with cocktails can make you feel almost like a mad scientist. There’s a seemingly infinite variety of flavors, interesting raw ingredients, strange different spirits, and a veritable rainbow of flavored bitters. One thing that you can make at home is flavored simple syrups (and doing so will probably taste better than store-bought), and one variation that I use more often than you’d think is a mint simple syrup.
Why a mint simple syrup? There are a bunch of great uses in unique cocktails (and I’ll post a recipe for a gin margarita soon that uses it) and it really is the easiest way to get the mint flavors into the more traditional “mint cocktails”: mint juleps and mojitos. Having fresh mint around all the time isn’t really a realistic expectation, so infusing those flavors into a simple syrup allows you to have that same fresh flavor around without watching mint leaves wilt in your kitchen.
Simple syrup, by the way, really is dead simple. It’s literally just sugar and water in a 2:1 ratio that have been heated up. But it might seem intimidating at first, so let’s break it down.
Mint Simple Syrup
- One sauce pan or small pot
- Measuring cups
- One bowl (at least three cups large)
- Stirring spoon
- Bottles or jars
- One cup water
- Two cups sugar
- Roughly 1/2 cup mint leaves
Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
- Remove the mint leaves from the stem of the plant. Gently wash them and leave them to dry. DO NOT SHAKE — bruising the leaves will express the oil from within the leaves that we are trying to capture and infuse.
- Measure one cup of water and place it into a small sauce pan or pot.
- Measure two cups of sugar and leave aside.
Step 2: Create the Simple Syrup
- Bring the water to a simmer — but not quite a full boil.
- Add the sugar to the water and stir to incorporate.
- Allow the mixture to return to a simmer.
Step 3: Add the Mint Leaves
- Once the mixture is back to a simmer, add in the mint leaves.
- Allow the mixture to simmer for ten minutes, being careful not to keep it from hitting a full boil.
Step 4: Cool in a Small Bowl
- Transfer the contents of the pan into a small bowl, preferably metal or some other heat conducting type. This will allow the syrup to cool down. Do not chill the syrup yet.
- Once cool enough to taste the contents, make sure it is the right consistency and flavor. You can always put it back in the pan at this point to add more sugar or water depending on your desired end state.
Step 5: Strain Into Bottles and Chill
- Insert a funnel into the top of a clean bottle.
- Place a strainer over the top of the funnel to catch any falling leaves. (You can also add a coffee filter inside your strainer, which really filters out all of the particles.)
- Pour through strainer slowly.
- Once bottled, place in the refrigerator to chill.
- Simple syrup in a 2:1 ratio may not need to be refrigerated to keep fresh, but it doesn’t hurt. Lower ratio solutions should absolutely be chilled.
That’s it! You should now have a couple bottles of mint simple syrup to play with and try to make some amazing cocktails. You can also re-use this recipe with other things like orange peels, basil, and pretty much anything else you might want as a syrup flavor.