3 Healthier Options You Can Use Instead of Simple Syrup

Inside the rise of our health conscious society there has been a significant demand for a reduction of sugar in the products we consume. The white sugar we use for simple syrup is one of the sweet demons that people are trying to cut from their diets. When people see it in a cocktail recipe they will often ask for less, or worse, no simple syrup at all.

This can be frustrating for a bartender because changing a recipe upsets the balance of the drink. Often you can try telling a customer this but they’ll still insist that you alter the drink. Then they’ll complain when the drink isn’t up to their usual standard. Customers will refuse to accept the fact that the badly balanced drink is a result of their choice.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to simple syrup out there. These are “acceptable” sugars which people will consume without batting an eyelid.

Honey Syrup

3 Healthier Options You Can Use Instead of Simple Syrup

Honey is a completely natural sugar and is the first choice for many when looking to switch out the devils white sugar for a healthier option. In cold cocktails honey is best used as a syrup to reduce its viscosity.

Preparation: Doesn’t dissolve well alone, mix 1:1 with hot water, the same way you do your simple syrup.

Sweetness: Same relative sweetness as white sugar.

Flavor Profile: Depends on where the bees collect their nectar and this can be stated on the container. Ranges from deep and malty, to light and citrus-y.

Works With: American and Scotch whiskies for richer honeys, light rums and brandies for lighter versions.

Maple Syrup

3 Healthier Options You Can Use Instead of Simple Syrup

This is the perfect time to begin thinking about maple syrup, as the flavors of maple syrup dovetail excellently with the rich, warm flavors customers are looking for during the fall and the winter.

Preparation: Mixes well, no need to dilute. Darker, thicker maple syrups may require mixing with water; 2:1, syrup to water ratio.

Sweetness: Has about 60% of the sweetness of white sugar

Flavor Profile: Different grades give different flavors. Lighter grades have more vanilla, and the darker it gets the more maple flavor it has.

Works With: Bourbon and Tennessee whiskies, and dark rums.

Agave Nectar

3 Healthier Options You Can Use Instead of Simple Syrup

Agave nectar began trending a few years ago when the agave’s most well known product, tequila, took a rise to stardom. It is touted for its heath properties and is therefore an excellent alternative to simple syrup.

Preparation: Most agave nectar is fluid enough that you don’t need to adjust it’s composition.

Sweetness: Has about 1.5x the sweetness of white sugar.

Flavor Profile: Almost neutral, slightly floral.

Works With: Mezcal or tequila based drinks and some gins and vodkas.

Simple syrup just provides sweetness- that’s the beauty of it- but these alternatives bring extra flavors, and therefore extra factors, to the mixing tin. Different spirits will work better with different sweeteners.

Seeing simple syrup in a cocktail recipe can have some customers exclude these items from their choices without even asking your bartenders for an alternative; limiting their choices and their experience. Consider urging your bartenders to use the above instead of simple when creating specialty cocktails.

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Benjamin Michael Beddow

Benjamin Michael Beddow

Food and Beverage Professional

As a food and beverage professional for over ten years, Ben has spent most of his time behind the bar, giving him a broad and in-depth knowledge of all things drinkable and drink related. Now, as a traveling freelance writer exploring the gastronomy, drinks, and food service industry of the world, Ben has taken his knowledge and experiences to the world wide web to share with others. The love for the trade never dies and Ben can still be found running around restaurants and slinging drinks in ski resorts in the USA during the winter season.