Simple syrup is a popular cocktail ingredient. It’s the classic way to add sweetness to cocktails, without changing the mouthfeel too much. After all, sugar itself can be tricky and doesn’t always dissolve when you want it to. Most cocktails stick to regular simple syrup, but why not branch out with lemon flavor? You can actually make lemon simple syrup at home and experiment with flavor combinations in your own homemade cocktail recipes.
Lemon simple syrup is amazing. It has all the sweetness of regular simple syrup, but you’re getting a hit of lemon flavor as well. The lemon flavor is fantastic in many cocktails. You’re not limited to cocktails either. There are plenty of non-alcoholic uses for the lemon too.
In this post, we’re introducing lemon simple syrup. That includes showing you how to make it yourself, some of the best brands, and what you can do with this syrup once you have it.
How To Make Lemon Simple Syrup
Lemon simple syrup is incredibly easy to make. You just need two ingredients – sugar and lemons.
The first step is to work with the lemons as you’re going to need zest and lemon juice. A zester or even a sharp paring knife should be enough to give you zest. But, be careful when you zest the lemons, as you need to avoid as much of the white pith as you can. This pith is bitter and it can easily taint the flavor of your simple syrup.
Once the zest is removed, you can slice the lemons in half and juice them. Try for roughly half a cup of juice for your first batch of simple syrup.
Then, combine the lemon juice with half a cup of granulated sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer. After about 10 minutes, the syrup should start to thicken.
At this point, you can take the pot off the heat, add the lemon zest, and transfer the syrup to a bowl. Once it has cooled a bit, you just need to remove the zest. A sieve will work well for the zest or you can simply pick the pieces out by hand if they were large.
After the zest has been removed, you can store the lemon simple syrup or transfer it to a jar. If the jar is clean and kept sealed, it should last a few months in the fridge.
A word of warning – while the zest looks pretty in a bottle with your simple syrup, you can’t store it this way. It will start to make the syrup bitter after a while, which isn’t good at all. This is why you should remove the zest before bottling your syrup.
You can also vary the recipe up a bit by adding extra ingredients.
- Lemon vanilla simple syrup. Add a vanilla bean to the syrup instead of lemon zest for a delicious balance of flavors.
- Lemon and rosemary simple syrup. The rosemary adds an herbal complexity to the syrup. The combination would be particularly good in a gin cocktail, although there are plenty of other uses too.
- Mint lemon simple syrup. This flavor combo works well in iced tea, gin and tonics, and any recipe that calls for both lemon and mint.
- Lemon ginger simple syrup. Combining lemon and ginger in the same syrup is perfect for combating colds and sore throats.
- Lemon and lavender simple syrup. As you’ll see in the next section, lavender is often used in lemon simple syrup too. Doing so provides some extra nuance to the flavor profile and complements the lemon surprisingly well.
Lemon simple syrup is easy enough to make, but what if you want to buy it instead?
Some brands allow you to do just this. However, most of them don’t focus on plain lemon simple syrup. They often add at least one other flavoring ingredient.
Sonoma Syrup Co.
Sonoma Syrup Co. offers a Meyer Lemon Infused Simple Syrup. This is a handcrafted syrup that really highlights the flavor profile of Meyer lemons. The syrup is made in the United States with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
The company mentions that the color of the syrup changes slightly from batch to batch, so it won’t always be as bright as is shown in the image. This is actually a good thing, as it means this truly is a natural product.
The ingredients list is straightforward. It includes cane sugar, water, lemon peel, lemon juice, natural lemon extract, vitamin C, citric acid, vanilla extract, and sea salt. This is a longer ingredients list than if you make the lemon simple syrup yourself. Still, it’s pretty impressive for a manufactured product.
Royal Rose is an exciting brand for simple syrups, as they offer a wide variety of flavors. Examples include Rose Simple Syrup, Three Chile Simple Syrup, Orange Vanilla Simple Syrup, Saffron Simple Syrup, and Hot Ginger Lime Simple Syrup.
They don’t currently offer a straight lemon option, but they do have a Lavender Lemon Simple Syrup. That could be just as good, if not better, than regular lemon simple syrup.
Simple Goodness Sisters
Simple Goodness Sisters is another company that offers flavored lemon simple syrup. This time there are herbs added in, which creates a richer and more complex flavor profile. The featured herbs include thyme, sage, and rosemary.
The ingredients list here is very simple. We’re just talking about water, cane sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and herbs. These are the same ingredients you’d use if you were making the syrup yourself.
Backyard Soda produces their products in Denver, Colorado, and completely avoids artificial ingredients. Their product is called Lavender Lemon Cocktail Syrup, rather than simple syrup, but the pattern is the same as before.
This time, the ingredients are filtered water, cane sugar, lemon juice, dried lavender flowers, citric acid, and salt. The lavender flavor won’t work for all cocktails, but will be perfect in the right situation.
As the name suggests, Social Mixers focuses on syrups for mixing into drinks. They have some interesting flavors too, including Elderflower Thyme, Lime Coriander, and Hibiscus Rosehip. However, today we’re interested in their lemon rosemary version.
Lemon and rosemary naturally complement one another, so this should be a delicious syrup. This should also work in most of the same situations as straight lemon syrup.
Plus, Social Mixers itself is a woman-owned company in Minnesota, with a strong focus on quality. This means you’re getting a reliable product every time. Social Mixers even avoids artificial and natural flavors, relying on plants for flavor instead.
Monin Lemon Syrup
Monin Lemon Syrup is a little different than the previous entries, as it’s promoted as a flavoring syrup, rather than lemon simple syrup. Yet, the ingredients label is familiar, including cane sugar, water, citric acid, and lemon juice.
This combination of ingredients should make the syrup taste similar to lemon simple syrup. Plus, unlike most of the other entries, this product is simply lemon flavored. There aren’t any herbs complicating the flavor profile.
Monin itself is a popular brand and the product gets decent reviews, which are other reasons to try it out. The big catch is that this product does include preservatives and natural flavors. As such, it isn’t as natural and authentic as simple syrup you’d make for yourself at home.
1883 Yuzu Lemon Syrup
Then we have the 1883 Yuzu Lemon Syrup. This follows a similar idea to Monin, except that the flavor profile includes yuzus as well as lemons. Yuzus are a famous type of Asian citrus fruit that is flavorful and should nicely complement the lemons in the syrup.
The ingredients label is simple here – just including cane sugar, water, yuzu juice, lemon juice, citric acid, and natural flavor. This is pretty good for a commercially produced product.
Reviews suggest that the yuzu and lemon flavors shine through with this product, giving you juice that tastes good and isn’t too sweet. This balance could be perfect in many cocktails.
Lemon Simple Syrup Cocktails
Now that you’ve found or made your lemon simple syrup, what should you do with it? Let’s begin with the alcoholic options – cocktails. Here are a few to get you started.
This goes without saying, doesn’t it? A hot toddy goes well with lemon and needs some sweetness, so why not get those flavors from lemon simple syrup? Flavored versions of the syrup could be exceptional too, such as a lemon and ginger simple syrup.
The amount of simple syrup will vary depending on the recipe you’re using. You might also need to drop out ingredients like honey or sugar, so that your drink isn’t overly sweet. But, experimenting is part of the fun with cocktails. You should be able to find your own delicious version before too long.
The French 75 is a fantastic cocktail for celebrating. It traditionally combines gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling wine.
So, no surprises, lemon simple syrup is perfect. Now all you need is gin, sparkling wine, and the syrup. Easy, right?
Herbal versions of the syrup could work well here too, particularly the Lemon-Herb Syrup from Simple Goodness Sisters. The herbs should complement the botanicals in your gin and make the cocktail more interesting.
Lemon Drop Cocktail
This is a famous lemon cocktail that’s vibrant and fun to drink. It traditionally relies on vodka, triple sec, lemon juice, and simple syrup. These ingredients create a simple sweet-sour flavor contrast.
Using lemon simple syrup works just as well as using lemon juice and simple syrup, and means there’s one fewer ingredient to worry about. Of course, the balance of lemon to sugar in your simple syrup will have a strong impact on the final cocktail.
Let’s finish off with one unexpected entry – the mojito. Mojitos normally rely on white rum, club soda, lime, mint, and sugar, so there’s no lemon in the mix at all. However, you can easily add lemon to create an even more exciting flavor profile.
This approach is even recommended by some of the lemon simple syrup brands. Try adding lemon simple syrup instead of sugar to your mojito and see what it does to the flavor profile. Who knows? You might find a new favorite.
Don’t make cocktails often? No worries, lemon simple syrup can be used for plenty of other things as well. Here are a few interesting approaches:
- Add it to lemonade instead of sugar. This intensifies the lemon flavor and stops you from worrying about granulated sugar.
- Use it instead of honey in a variety of recipes, like marinades. You’ll still get a similar sweetness, just with a lemony flavor instead of a honey-like one.
- Add it to tea for sweetness and a hit of lemon.
- Use it in any soothing drink, particularly one designed to help a sore throat. Lemon tends to be exceptional in these drinks and can help to reduce throat pain.