Cocktail syrups have slowly but surely been establishing themselves on the market. While plenty of old-fashioned bartenders prefer crafting their own syrups out there, the overall industry seems to be warming up to them more and more.
Their skepticism can be understood on a certain level. Not too long ago, finding high-quality cocktail syrups wasn’t all that easy, so most professionals didn’t consider the risk to be worth it.
Imagine finding the perfect whiskey or tequila, with just the right level of flavor depth, unique aroma, and aftertaste, crafting a cocktail that’s supposed to be your signature drink - and have it ruined by taking a chance on the wrong syrup.
Even if you only ever mix cocktails for yourself and a few friends, mixing a dud that no one likes can be upsetting - especially if you’re not at fault. For a professional bartender who’s dedicated their life to mixing quality drinks? Yeah. Instead of using a shortcut and messing everything up, we, too, would stick to the arm workout that is dissolving a sugar cube in the old fashioned cocktail.
However, when there’s a demand on the market and competition grows, so does the quality of the product. These days, even picky bartenders agree that when properly used, pre-made cocktail syrups can not only work as well as those made in-house but can add unique notes and elevate drinks to a whole new level”.
And if you simply want to make yourself (and a few loved ones) happy? Pre-made cocktail syrups will get you as close to being a professional as one can get without leaving the kitchen.
The Benefits of Using Cocktail Syrups
Pros have a good reason to stick to their own syrups. If they’ve been in the industry for more than a couple of years, they’ve likely not only developed a recipe that works for them but can whip up a batch in their sleep.
Those of us not in the know don’t have that privilege. And that’s where pre-made cocktail syrups come in.
After the manufacturing process for pre-made cocktail syrups is set up, the results are pretty much guaranteed to stay the same. If you try out a cocktail syrup and like the taste, you can trust that the flavor will be the same with each new bottle you buy. At least if we’re dealing with a quality manufacturer.
It means the same level of sweetness, same aroma, same flavor depth, and layers. And it makes the mixing process incredibly easier even for the pros, not to mention amateurs.
Even for professional bartenders, mixing cocktail syrups with unique flavor profiles can be incredibly difficult. It requires access to ingredients that are often either hard to find or overpriced, consistent product quality, and a lot of time.
On the other hand, pre-made cocktail syrups come in a wide variety of flavors, are consistent in quality, shelf-stable when properly stored, and affordable. Especially considering the amount that goes in a cocktail (ex., the old fashioned cocktail we mentioned before only requires 1 to 2 tsp of syrup per glass).
It’s not an oft-talked-about when it comes to cocktail syrups, but they’re very versatile in use. While their primary point is to elevate the way your drink tastes, amateur chefs and cooking enthusiasts have long cracked the code of making the most out of them. They can be added to salad dressings and marinades, used as a glaze for meat and poultry, mixed into cake butter for deeper flavor, brushed over baked cakes to keep them moist, etc.
Indeed, the sky’s the limit on how you use your favorite cocktail syrups.
10 Cocktail Syrups to Start Mixing With (and Not Only)
Need a little advice on where to get started? Well, we’re always happy to help. Here are ten cocktail syrups we think would elevate your pantry to the next level.
We keep a broad selection of syrups from some top European and American manufacturers whose names have long become associated with quality. You can find flavors both classic and long-beloved and unique and exciting flavors you’ve probably never tried before.
1. Skinny Pina Colada Mix by Jordan’s Skinny Mixes
Who doesn’t love Pina Colada? It’s almost a universal favorite when it comes to cocktails, and for a good reason!
This sugar free syrup from Jordan’s Skinny Mixes will make you a Pina Colada master with ease! It has a bright and well-pronounced pineapple flavor, with subtler coconut undertones that are easy to taste even in complicated, multi-layered drinks. If the prospect of being able to whip up your own Pina Colada in under a minute sounds appealing to you, then this is a syrup to add to your pantry. All it takes is adding a bit of ice and white rum.
It should be noted that this is not just a sugar free syrup but gluten-free, dairy-free, keto-friendly, and low-calorie, which only adds to its appeal. Whether you’re a vegan, trying to cut down on gluten, or want to lose weight without giving up partying with your friends - this little guy can help you out.
Best ways to use: aside from delivering a perfect poco grande of Pina Colada each time your heart desires, you can always add it to your smoothies, add a splash or two to sweeten your greek yogurt bowls, or use it to elevate the taste of your baked goods (a fluffy and moist pineapple cake sounds good, no?).
2. Monin Passion Fruit Syrup
Passion fruit has become a staple of the cocktail world in the last few years. Not only do the bartenders keep finding new original ways to pair it up with alcohol, but many establishments have used it to add a fresh twist to old classics. These days, you can find passion fruit margaritas, daiquiris, and mojitos on bar menus as often as strawberries.
Passion fruit’s moderately sweet and somewhat tart flavor and its fragrant aroma work well with most hard liquors. While the results can be vastly different, passion fruit somehow pairs similarly well with gins, vodkas, bourbons, etc.
Monin Passion Fruit Syrup has a distinct fruity flavor (typically described as tropical) and silky smooth texture. It pairs with most alcohol just as well as the fruit, and the pure cane sugar the syrup is sweetened with strengthens the flavor without overwhelming it.
Best ways to use: passion fruit syrup is one of the most versatile on this list. It can be used both for sweet and savory dishes. Combine it with olive oil and drizzle over your salad (it works particularly well with fresh greens and citrus), mix it with classic vinaigrette for a seafood marinade, or infuse a simple vanilla cake to elevate your dessert.
3. Old Forester Old Fashioned Syrup
The old fashioned cocktail is a well-respected classic many default to when they don’t know what to order. It’s a taste of comfort and familiarity but not one of conformity. Some things are classic because they deserve it.
This syrup is on the sweeter side, but remember, it’s made to be paired with strong alcohol with a distinct flavor of its own. Once mixed with whiskey or bourbon, its deliciously layered flavor with notes of orange, black tea, cinnamon, and cardamom comes forward.
Old Forester Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup is specifically created to make it easy for amateur mixologists to whip up their drink in two steps without messing anything up. No need to worry about ingredient rations with this one in the pantry. All it takes to get a good glass of old fashioned cocktail out of this one is adding good bourbon.
Best ways to use: aside from the old fashioned cocktail, the best way to use this one is to add a bit to your gingerbread cookies to add depth to their flavor.
4. Borgo de Medici Sugar Free Hazelnut Syrup
If you love hazelnut flavor, then this is the syrup for you. Unlike some other syrups on this list, the taste of this one may lack subtle undertones, but that’s a strength, not a weakness.
This sugar free syrup has a well-pronounced nutty flavor, most reminiscent of hazelnuts that have been slightly caramelized. It is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and pairs well with other ingredients in complex cocktails. You can easily use this one to either put a twist on the classic or use it as your playground to develop your own signature cocktails. A true team player, hazelnut syrup pairs well with almost any alcohol, from rum to tequila to whiskey to flavored liqueurs.
Suppose you don’t want to start your amateur mixologist career with a sugar free syrup but have your heart settled on hazelnut. In that case, you can always try Monin’s Organic Hazelnut Syrup with cane sugar or Teisseire Hazelnut Syrup from their professional line.
Best ways to use: the beautiful thing about this syrup is that it’s nigh impervious to extreme temperatures. It can be successfully used in ice-cold and boiling hot drinks. It pairs especially with coffees and hot chocolate, as well as coffee and chocolate-based desserts like cakes and cookies.
5. Fabbri Mixybar Orzata Syrup
Orzata or orgeat syrup is made by mixing almonds, sugar, and water (sometimes rose or orange flower water). At first glance, it’s an effortless thing, but that’s where the trap lies. Simple things are easy to mess up, as the quality of ingredients always shines through, and subpar orzata syrup is easy to recognize by taste.
Fabbri Mixybar Orzata Syrup is made with only high-quality Italian almonds, with sugar highlighting their naturally sweet and nutty flavor without overpowering it. The texture is slightly thick, smooth, and velvety. The syrup has oft been compared to marzipan in taste.
Orzata syrup is a crucial ingredient in Tiki drinks. If you know a thing or two about your cocktails and cocktail syrups, then you know that Tiki drinks are notoriously intricate and easy to mess up, so even skeptics often use pre-made orzata syrups instead of in-house ones.
Best ways to use: this one works best in liquid recipes. If you’re a Mai Tai lover, this syrup is a must-have. But if your love for nutty flavors goes further than Tiki drinks, try adding it to your smoothies (particularly banana and almond butter) or coffee.
6. Monin Dairy Free Irish Cream Syrup
Are you a Baileys Irish Cream lover trying to cut dairy from your diet? Then this syrup is for you.
It tastes just like a high-quality Irish cream liqueur-based syrup would: sweet and milky, with strong chocolate notes and a little less pronounced vanilla undertone.
While you can’t exactly drink it on its own as you would Baileys, you can freely use it to swap the liqueur in any recipes you’ve been using it for so far.
Best ways to use: add it to your coffee, no doubt. There’s a reason adding a teaspoon of Baileys to coffee is a staple. But it pairs great with hot chocolate as well. Or, if you’re feeling brave, drizzle it on top of your ice cream after dinner (we’d say vanilla and chocolate work best).
7. Teisseire Strawberry Syrup, Professional Line
As far as cocktail syrups go, the strawberry flavor is a classic. It seems like any fruit-based cocktail is fated to get a strawberry twist sooner or later. Margarita, Moscow Mule, Tom Collins, Tequila Sunrise - the list goes on and on. If there’s a twist on a classic cocktail, there’s around an 80% chance it involves swapping the primary fruit for a strawberry.
But there’s a good reason for it. Not only is strawberry almost universally loved and thus the least risky to experiment with, but its flavor pairs well with almost all hard liquor.
And Teisseire’s strawberry syrup from their professional line embodies it to the fullest. This syrup gets as close to the taste of actual strawberry fruit as it gets. It’s sweet and tart, with neither overwhelming the other, with the flavor blooming once mixed into a drink.
Best ways to use: anything you’d use strawberry syrup for. Drizzle it over any dessert you want - pancakes, crepes, cheesecake, french toast, you know it’ll work. Add it to your morning oatmeal. Mix in with milk to make strawberry milk. Just be mindful of the amount since the syrup can get too sweet if you put in too much.
8. Elderflower Syrup by Darbo
Elderflower syrup is a bit of an uncommon ingredient on most bar cards. But trust us, it does deserve its place on this list.
Darbo’s elderflower syrup is made with elderflower, sugar, and water. It has a strong fragrance but subtle flavor, sweet and floral, that adds surprising depth to most recipes it’s used for.
As cocktails go, elderflower works best with citrus or berry-based cocktails. Or, for something simpler, you can combine it with sparkling wine, like prosecco.
Best ways to use: elderflower syrup works well with cold drinks, adding a fresh note to them. Elevate your lemonades, iced teas, and even sparkling water by adding a dash. You can also use it in baking, adding a bit to your vanilla or citrus pound cakes, muffins, scones, etc.
9. Premium Rose Syrup by Quai Sud
Possibly the most unique entry on this list, Quai Sud’s rose syrup is a must for all who want to diversify their palette but are afraid to go with something too bold.
Subtly floral and pleasantly sweet, this syrup lends itself well to simple cocktails with few ingredients where it won’t get overpowered. Sparkling wines, white wines, and martinis all pair well with it.
Best ways to use: rose syrup works best as a simple drizzle for desserts like pancakes, french toast, and waffles (though do remember small will go a long way).
10. Runamok Maple Rum Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup
Surprised? Don’t be. Maple syrup may not be a cocktail syrup specifically, but it has been a well-loved option for many renowned bartenders. Some have even gone so far as to create signature drinks around it, like Jeremy Oertel with Jubilee, Naren Young with Autumn, and Jim Meehan with Applejack Rabbit.
Runamok Maple’s rum barrel-aged maple syrup lends itself particularly well to mixed drinks, both due to flavor profile and color. It’s moderately sweet with woody notes and a distinct smokey aroma.
Best ways to use: saying put it on pancakes would be redundant, so we’d advise you to try it out as a bacon glaze, drizzle it over roast vegetables like sweet potato and squash, swap honey and molasses in your desserts, or - you guessed it - use it as a cocktail syrup.
If there’s one thing we hoped to convey through this article, it’s that adding a few cocktail syrups to your pantry is one of the easiest ways to add new flavors to your everyday life. Cocktail syrups will help you cut down on time spent. You don’t need to be a professional bartender to let your imagination fly and come up with great cocktails (or mix great classics in just a few seconds) or a professional chef to come up with a dish with multi-layered flavors that easily impress people.
Cocktail syrups are an easy and convenient way to do just that.