Homemade Syrups


Tiki drinks have been described as “fussy,” “esoteric,” and often down right tedious. In part this is due to the wide variety of rum and juice that is required, but I think the true culprit is the syrup. There are some 20 syrups, mixes, batters, hoozlungs, and dreebops, each often requiring a multi-day process and lots of straining through cheesecloth. Some are super simple to make, like Cinnamon Syrup, while others, like Orgeat Syrup, leave you cursing every known tiki bartender, dead or alive as you peel almond after almond.

My main goal of this post is see what syrups you all keep on hand on a regular basis, so dig into your refrigerator and have a look. Here’s what I have:

KP Syrups

Are Homemade Syrups Worth It?

After making more batches of falernum and cinnamon syrup and more Jet Pilots than is likely safe, I feel confident in encouraging you to make your own. By no means should you go out and try to make five syrups in one weekend. Just make one, and I guarantee you’ll be making more in no time.

There are only a handful of commercial products that can even come close to homemade. St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram is a good example (I’ve got to stop giving Haus Alpenz free advertising!), but on the whole, your homemade is going to be fresher, tastier, and well worth the effort.

What About Bottles?

During last week’s Thursday Drink Night, SeanMike pointed out what appears to be the holy grail if you’re looking to order cheap, fun bottles for your syrups: Specialty Bottle Personally, I just use old spirit bottles or those restaurant squeeze bottles, but I plan to to pick up some of these.

New Falernum Recipe

Here is my latest batch of Falernum, KP 1.0. The recipe is a bit spicier than more traditional ones, and you may need to cut back a touch when including it in a recipe, but it’s full of complexity and will most likely cause you to start quoting Dune.

Falernum KP 1.0

  • zest of 10 limes
  • 1/4c julienned ginger
  • 25 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 15 allspice
  • 2 star anise leaves (about 1/3 of a single star anise)
  • 2″ piece of vanilla bean, dried out
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4c toasted almonds (skin on)
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 8oz Wray and Nephew overproof rum
  • 2/3c lime juice
  • 1/4t almond extract
  • 2:1 simple syrup to fill 750ml bottle

Bash up almonds and spices (except the star anise and nutmeg) and soak them in the rum for 24 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth and add the lime juice, almond extract, and simple syrup.

KP Question

  1. What homemade syrups do you have on hand?

27 Responses to “Homemade Syrups”

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27 Comments to “ Homemade Syrups”
  1. Let’s see:

    Vanilla Syrup
    Passionfruit Syrup
    Simple Syrup (2:1 demerara sugar)
    Cinnamon Syrup
    Don’s Mix (2:1 grapefruit to cinnamon syrup)
    Don’s Spices #2 (1:1 vanilla syrup to pimento dram)
    Honey Mix (1:1 honey to water)
    Coffee Syrup
    Last bottle of Falernum #5
    Ginger Syrup

  2. AndrewNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve got:

    Falernum (although, I’ve been using Fee’s lately. My homemade is a lot heavier and adds some bitterness to drinks)
    Passionfruit Syrup (this tastes more like apple syrup, but it’s good)
    Cinnamon Syrup
    Simple Syrup
    2:1 Demerara Syrup

    I had some homemade ginger syrup, but it molded really quick.

    How does the Wray & Nephew Overproof work in your Falernum recipe? I’ve been using El Dorado High Proof, which I think works well, also.

  3. Chris the Tiki GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Right now I’ve just got homemade grenadine, although my first ever batch of Pimento dram is currently mellowing. Depending on how much Wray and Nephew I’ve got left, I may try my hand at making a falernum (although I’ve got to empty a liquor bottle, first! Oh, the horror!)

    Maybe after I get the fridge cleaned out (cue the Indiana Jones theme) I’ll get a Cinnamon syrup mixed up, too. I’m anxious to try a passionfruit syrup, too, but with winter moving in here in Wisconsin, I’m thinking the more spicy syrups will do better with the more warming libations I tend towards in the colder months.

    I am due to make an experimental mixture next month, though, to be ready for Thanksgiving. I’m usually in charge of the cocktails for my friend’s dinner, and this year I’m thinking of making Old Fashioned (this is Wisconsin, after all) with pecan-infused bourbon and a Maple and Demerara sugar syrup. I think it’ll be well received.

  4. TiareNo Gravatar says:

    Hmm..these for now, i think:

    Simple with Billingtons unrefined cane suagr
    Dark Muscovado-Tahitian vanilla
    Hibiscus grenadine
    Pimento dram
    Don’s Spices #2 (1:1 vanilla syrup to pimento dram)
    Kaffir lime
    Passionfruit Syrup
    Honey mix

  5. TiareNo Gravatar says:

    Forgot the orgeat and the palmsugar

  6. ReeseNo Gravatar says:

    I currently have:

    Allspice Syrup
    Simple Syrup (1:1 White Sugar)
    Rich Syrup (2:1 White Sugar)
    Demerara Syrup (1:1 Demerara Sugar)
    Strawberry Syrup
    Passionfruit Syrup
    Tonic Syrup

    I like the restaurant style squeeze bottles for easy dosing.

  7. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:




    Passion Fruit (my last bottle of “pre-formula change” Monin)
    Orgeat (Torani)
    Falernum (Fee’s)
    Almond (Monin)

  8. sylvanNo Gravatar says:

    Falernum (homemade)
    Passionfruit syrup (homemade)
    Cinnamon syrup (homemade)
    Simple syrup 1:1 ‘raw’ sugar(homemade)
    Pimento dram (homemade) – not really a syrup, but I’m proud of it anyway
    Grapefruit/honey/cinnamon (homemade)

    I see that the question is ‘homemade’ but I already listed these, so:
    Vanilla syrup (Torani)
    Orgeat syrup (Torani)
    Pomegranate syrup (Torani)
    Raspberry syrup (Torani) – I’ve had this forever, now it gets used for Knickerbockers

  9. MarshallNo Gravatar says:

    Hmmmm, let me see . . .

    Simple Syrup (1.5:1 Natural Cane sugar)
    Kaffir Lime Syrup
    Lime Syrup
    Lemon Syrup
    Grapefruit Syrup
    Citrus Syrup (leftover of the three above combined)
    Rosemary Syrup
    Raspberry Syrup
    Vanilla-Ginger Rock Candy Syrup
    Honey-Lavender Syrup

    (Store Bought)
    Taylor’s Falernum
    Fee’s Orgeat (just until I use it up then make my own!)

    And now, I know I can do a little combinationating and get Don’s Mix and Don’s Spices!

    Sweet! (Get it? Sweet . . . syrup . . . HA!)

    I’ll sit down now . . .

  10. TiareNo Gravatar says:

    When i look at all our syrups…we could easily open a SYRUP SHOP!!!

  11. BonzoGalNo Gravatar says:

    I’ll be The Syrup Shop’s first customer. Daaaang. I guess no one here thinks that tiki drinks are too fussy or tedious… I only have homemade cinnamon and some store-bought orgeat and falernum. (I won’t count the maple syrup because I got that for oatmeal, not drinks.)

    I put this on par with making your own mayonnaise. It’s a pain but boy oh boy, is the taste worth it.

    Reese, what’s tonic syrup?

  12. Pimento dram (not a syrup, exactly, but home made)
    Cinnamon syrup (made for last weeks TND)
    Cherry-pomegranate-allspice-cinnamon-cloves syrup/liqueur that shares a jar with my home-made maraschino cherries
    Blueberry Syrup (Just made today!):

    Pour a 32 oz bottle Knudeson’s 100% Blueberry juice into a sauce pan and reduce by 2/3 at a bare simmer.
    Add in 2 cups unrefined sugar, stir until dissolved. Cool and bottle, store in fridge.

    I’ve got plans for the blueberry syrup. It’ll appear in a cocktail at tomorrow’s TDN.

  13. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Craig (or anyone else who wanted to answer): What brand of passion fruit juice / puree do you use to make your syrup?

    Andrew: The Wray and Nephew Overproof adds some nice vanilla hints to the falernum, but I’d wager they would both be good at squeezing out lots of flavor from the soaking ingredients. The El Dorado, despite smelling like rubbing alcohol will add some toffee and smoke notes to your syrup… either way you’re going to get a good bit of over-flavor out of them too.

    Chris: Pecan-infused bourbon reminds me of Temptryst Pecanwood. I bet it will be delicious. What’s your plan for the infusion?

    Tiare: You’re ridiculous T! What do you use your bell pepper syrup in?

    Reese: I’d like to know a bit more about your tonic syrup. How do you make it? What cocktails do you use it in?

    Dr. Bamboo: I’m going to drive to Pittsburgh and personally make you orgeat and falernum if you don’t hop to it. And by “make you” I mean “make you do it.”

    Sylvan: The idea of a grapefruit, honey, and cinnamon syrup sounds delightful. What have you used it in and what are the proportions?

    Marshall: Nice list! Are you competing with Tiare? How about the rosemary syrup… what’s that go into?

    BonzoGal: The mayo comment is great. Though, when you get comfortable making mayo, it gets a lot easier and goes quickly… kind of like orgeat syrup. Oh wait…

    rhesus: I look forward to the Blueberry syrup tomorrow night. I guess I can’t do the “whoever has a syrup no one else has wins” prize now…

  14. easNo Gravatar says:

    OK, for the record: I encourage and laud the homemade productions of allspice dram, falernum, bitters, orgeat, and more. It’s a noble endeavor. I keep a garden at home too!

    When making syrups, not enough attention goes to the type and handling of the sugars. Just don’t get mad at me (as did my wife) when ruining countless pans carmelizing sugar! Still no regrets.

  15. paranoidNo Gravatar says:

    – orgeat
    – passionfruit syrup (I hope it hasn’t gone bad!)
    – simple syrup, I kind of make only as needed, and I eyeball it. meh.

  16. tiareNo Gravatar says:

    Oh Thank you KP..just reminded me that i also have a Rosemary syrup..

    The bell pepper syrup was made for a variation of my bell pepper whiskey sour and the rosemary syrup for another drink with whiskey and burnt rosemary.

    Bell Pepper Whiskey Sour is muddling a 3 cm piece of fresh red bell pepper, then add Bourbon,Fresh Lemon Juice, Raspberry Pureè, Spiced Honey Syrup. Garnish 3 Red paprika strips.

    Variation: paprika syrup instead of honey syrup.

  17. ChrisNo Gravatar says:

    Don’t suppose I’m making a case for not having been, as Rick said, abducted by Thomas Keller; but here’s my pile for the “what’s filling up your fridge showdown”:

    Horchata de Melon (Cucumber, Coriander & Cinnamon)
    Hibiscus Grenadine
    Blackberry syrup
    Velvet Falernum
    Vanilla syrup
    Vanilla & Star Anise syrup
    Cardamom “Ale” syrup
    Violet “Tea” syrup
    Blossom syrup (Lavender, Hibiscus, Violet, Coriander in simple)
    Simple (1:1)
    Demerara Simples (2:1 & 1:1)
    I also just threw out a batch of (unstable) Honey syrup (1:1) & Pineapple syrup (from Pisco Punch a while back) after it’d spent a significant amount of time untouched & am trying the (fermented version) of Morgenthaler’s Ginger beer recipe as of yesterday.

    Sylvan – try out that Raspberry syrup in a Roman Punch if you’ve got half a chance & haven’t already.

    This syrup shop idea bears looking into – maybe a section of Port Royal?


  18. MarshallNo Gravatar says:

    I made the rosemary syrup for a cocktail in the F&W 2008 cocktail book. Can’t remember the recipe though. :-)

    Also forgot that last weekend I make an experimental “apple cider syrup” that turned out really well. Though very sweet even in syrup terms. But I see it having potential with Applejack and rye . . .


  19. BonzoGalNo Gravatar says:

    Holy guacamole Tiare, those cocktail photos are BEAUTIFUL!

  20. RaniNo Gravatar says:

    Simple Syrup
    Orgeat (A recipe half way between Underhill Orgeat and fx Cuisine Orgeat)

  21. sylvanNo Gravatar says:

    Rick, the grapefruit, honey, and cinnamon syrup was made for some guests who don’t drink (being alcoholics) and were not eating refined sugar. So I kind of winged together a mish-mash of internet recipes, substituting honey for sugar. I just mixed it with charged water and called it a soda. But, yeah, I need to get around to mixing it with some rum.

    And Chris, which Roman Punch do you recommend? I was looking at the cocktaildb one with raspberry instead of grenadine, but drinksmixer has a totally different recipe. Ah, never mind, you mean the Imbibe one.

  22. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    You all put me completely to shame, as I rarely have anything homemade–even cinnamon. But I recently did Earl Grey. I made some very saturated EG tea and used that for the water.
    Very subtle, but nice in the various old fashioned whiskey cocktails.

  23. TiareNo Gravatar says:

    The Earl Grey Tea in whiskey cocktails sounds really tasty! i will try that one. Did you use equal parts tea water and sugar?

    I`m adding up the geekery with my new syrup i made today, a blackpepper-plum syrup which is to go with my peppered plum and rum cocktail.

  24. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah, Tiare, I’m pretty sure I made the Earl Grey equal parts. I just poured the sugar into the hot tea and stirred until it melted.

  25. ZuckervatiNo Gravatar says:

    Guess I’ve got a little catching up to do. Here’s what I’ve got on-hand:


    Rock Candy syrup
    Strawberry syrup
    Chili-Raspberry syrup

    From the Store:

    Rose’s grenadine
    Rose’s lime cordial
    Lia Orzata orgeat syrup
    Sky Rocket Caffeinated Raspberry syrup

  26. Chris the Tiki GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Well, I decided to get the pecan-infused bourbon going today. I’m soaking just over 2 cups of pecans in water for the next half hour or so, then I’ll drain them, and sprinkle them with a little vanilla sugar (I’m eschewing the standard salt/pepper/cayenne version I see all over the web) and toast them for about 20 minutes at 300°F, cool them, and macerate them with a bottle of Knob Creek for a week, then strain back into the original bottle and let it mellow in the fridge until Thanksgiving.

    Closer to Turkey Day, I’ll get the Maple/Demerara Syrup made, and then that plus the bourbon will be mixed with a little sweet vermouth, a dash of Angostura Bitters (maybe Angostura Orange Bitters, if I can get a hold of some before then!) and club soda. I know it’s traditional to muddle the orange slice and maraschino cherry in there, but I’m not sold on it just yet.

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