Greetings! Today, April 25, is the 26th anniversary of the day I started my bartending career. A few years ago, at the height of the pandemic, I decided to celebrate by sharing my chocolate chip cookie recipe online. And this year, I thought I’d make it a tradition by sharing something I love every year.
I’ve struggled a bit with syrups over the years. All the while I had kind of a motley collection of syrup recipes that we used behind the bar. There’s the delicious recipe for Compound Raspberry Syrup in the Bar Book. I have a few pineapple syrup recipes, depending on where you look. And of course there are simple syrups that I use daily behind the bar. But what I struggle with is maintaining the perfect ratio of sugar to liquid for each of them.
For the bartender at home, it is not very serious. You can have a syrup recipe and a drink recipe suitable for syrup. And you can always adjust according to your needs. But in a professional bar it’s really nice to have a consistent sugar content in all your syrups (I prefer a 2:1 ratio for mine – they keep longer in the fridge due to their higher sugar content in sugar). Why is it nice to have this consistency? Well, the main reason is that swapping out one syrup for another means you don’t have to make any micro-adjustments if the syrups aren’t uniform. Want to take your Old Fashioned bourbon recipe and swap the bourbon for rum and your simple syrup for pineapple syrup? Of course, it would be nice if this pineapple had a perfect 2:1 ratio, just like your simple one, wouldn’t it?
The problem is that all these juices have different sugar contents. Even the Dole pineapple varies from can to can depending on the batch. What if there was a very simple way to make a compound syrup that doesn’t involve complicated calculations?
Enter the Universal Syrup Calculator (Google Sheets link – downloadable Excel file can be found below). I was so fed up with all these different recipes that I finally sat down, did the math, and made the process super easy for you. Now all you have to do is weigh your juice (this is the scale i use at home and at the bar), take a quick reading of sugar at room temperature (68ºF/20ºC) with an inexpensive refractometer (this is the one i use – I like that it will take a reading up to 80%), insert those two numbers into the spreadsheet I provided, and it will tell you exactly how much sugar to add to make a 1:1 or a 2:1 syrup.
From there, you just need to gently heat your ingredients on the stovetop until the sugar is dissolved, remove everything from the heat and let it cool before bottling and refrigerating. Boom! Now you can make the perfect syrup from anything: apple juice, pineapple, raspberry, and more.
Want to check your work? It’s also easy. Make sure your syrup is at room temperature and watch it through the refractometer. If you made a 1:1 syrup, it will say 50 Brix. If you made a 2:1 syrup, it will say 66.6. Try it and see!
The link to the spreadsheet is below. I hope this will be helpful and helpful to you.