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How to Make the Best Mocktails Using Flavored Simple Syrups

How to Make the Best Mocktails

It’s that time of year where we’re starting to maybe feel like we’ve overindulged during the holiday festivities (or is that just me?) and looking ahead to a healthier January. I am often looking for interesting mocktails to enjoy during “Dry January”so I never feel like I’m missing out. The easiest way to create a flavorful base for a mocktail is to make a flavored simple syrup. Not only are these syrups super easy to make and endlessly customizable, they also last for weeks if stored properly in the fridge.

How to Make a Flavored Simple Syrup

The basic rule to make simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar; for these recipes we use 1 cup granulated sugar to 1 cup water. To add flavor to your syrup you can replace some of the water with fresh juice or add fragrant spices, fresh herbs, dried flowers, fruit, or aromatics to infuse the syrup with flavor. It takes only minutes to bring everything to a boil in a saucepan and then steep for an hour or two to fully infuse with flavor. Once you’ve strained and discarded the solids, you’re left with a syrup packed with flavor that is the perfect base for mocktails (or cocktails!) or flavoring soda water. 

Other Uses For Flavored Syrups

As well as adding the syrups to the libation of your choice, there are other uses for them:

  • Drizzling over ice cream
  • Glazing or moistening cakes 
  • Adding to coffee or teas 
  • Mixing with powdered sugar and butter to create flavored frostings 
  • Pouring over pancakes and waffles
  • Glazing grilling meats or fish 

Recipe: Mocktail Simple Syrups 3 Ways

YieldsActive TimeCook Time
About 1 cup syrup10 minutes6 minutes, plus 1 to 2 hours cooling time

Equipment and Tools 

  • Small saucepan
  • Fine-mesh strainer 
  • Wooden spoon
  • Medium bowls
  • Canning jars with lids

Recipe 1) Hibiscus, Ginger & Clove Syrup

  • ½ cup dried hibiscus leaves
  • 1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger cut into strips
  • 1 tsp lightly crushed whole cloves
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup dried hibiscus leaves, 1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger cut into strips, 1 tsp lightly crushed cloves, a large pinch salt, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1 cup water.
  2. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and syrup thickens slightly, about 6 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, pour into a medium bowl to steep and cool for 1 to 2 hours.
  1. Strain with a fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar, pressing hard with the back of a spoon to get all the flavors into syrup. Discard solids. Add remaining pinch salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks. 

Mocktail Recipe: Hibiscus-Clove Mule 

Add 3 tbsp hibiscus, clove, and ginger syrup and ⅓ cup ice into a tumbler glass. Top with ginger beer and a dash of angostura bitters. Garnish with a lime wheel studded with cloves. 

Recipe 2) Orange and Cardamom Syrup

  • 3 (2-inch) strips peeled orange zest
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tbsp lightly crushed green cardamom pods 
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  1. In a small saucepan, combine 3 strips orange zest, ¼ cup orange juice, 3 tbsp crushed green cardamom pods, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, a large pinch salt, 1 cup granulated sugar with ¾ cup water.
  2. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and syrup thickens slightly, about 6 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, pour into a medium bowl to steep and cool for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Strain with a fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar, pressing hard with the back of a spoon to get all the flavors into syrup. Discard solids. Add remaining pinch salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks. 

Mocktail Recipe: Spiced Cran-Orange Fizz

Add 2 tbsp fresh or frozen cranberries with 3 tbsp syrup in a champagne flute. Top with club soda and a dash of orange bitters.

Recipe 3) Rosemary, Juniper & Lemon Syrup

  • 3 to 4 large fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 tbsp lightly crushed juniper berries
  • Peeled zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  1. In a small saucepan, combine 3 or 4 large rosemary sprigs, 3 tbsp lightly crushed juniper berries, peeled zest of 1 lemon, ¼ cup lemon juice, a large pinch salt, 1 cup granulated sugar with ¾ cup water.
  2. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and syrup thickens slightly, about 6 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, pour into a medium bowl to steep and cool for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Strain with a fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar, pressing hard with the back of a spoon to get all the flavors into syrup. Discard solids. Add remaining pinch salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks. 

Mocktail idea: Booze-Free Bramble

Muddle ¼ cup fresh blackberries with 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 3 tbsp syrup. Add ⅓ cup ice cubes and top with tonic water. Garnish with a rosemary sprig threaded with blackberries. 

Recipes to try:

6 Salad Recipes for the New Year

Maintaining Healthy Habits Through the Holidays

Five Healthy Vegan Recipes

Healthy Chicken Dinners with Suvie

The Mediterranean Diet for Longevity and Health

Mediterranean Vegetable Bowl

FAQs

I don’t like to cook with salt, can I omit this salt in this recipe? 

Yes! A  touch of salt is just added to bring out and elevate the flavors, but you can omit if you prefer. 

How can I make simple syrup last longer?

If you increase the sugar to water ratio to 2:1, then it will make the syrup more stable and last longer.

I forgot to refrigerate my syrup? What should I do?

Depending on how long it’s been out of the fridge and what the syrup is infused with, it would be advisable to make a new batch. Some fruits can turn the syrup moldy, so it’s better to be safe. Plus syrups are quick, relatively cheap (and easy) to make. 

What other syrups can I make?

Here are some other additions you could use to infuse and make a flavored simple syrup using the 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water ratio:

  • Vanilla Syrup: Add 1 split bean to the pan while boiling to add extra flavor. 
  • Mint Syrup: Add 1 cup fresh mint leaves 
  • Jalapeño Syrup: Add ⅓ cup chopped jalapeño (great for spicy faux-ritas!)
  • Any Berry Syrup: Use 1 cup fresh berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. 
CategoriesDrinks Vegetarian
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