The Best Reason To Use Simple Syrup In Your Next Martini

If one has to construct a hierarchy of cocktails, the martini and its derivatives would likely top that list. Whether it is a vesper martini made for the most famous British secret agent in pop culture history, or a tray of pink-hued cosmopolitans favored by Carrie Bradshaw and her friends, a martini has always signified sophistication and high style.

Although historically the classic martini is defined by gin, vermouth, and not much else, today we associate a martini with just about anything that can be served straight up (no ice) in a cone-shaped martini glass. From espresso martinis made with coffee liqueur to one made with jasmine flower-scented syrups, there is a martini for just about any palate.

But while making cocktails look easy once you have the ingredients, there is a secret ingredient that bartenders add to your martini that makes your drink better than the one you make yourself. With a few drops of simple syrup, you will boost the flavor, mouthfeel, and texture of your cocktail.

Using sugar syrup to improve texture

The reason that sugar is a key ingredient to improve a martini aside from providing sweetness is that it also changes the texture and viscosity of the liquid. When you sip a drink and hold it in your mouth before swallowing, what you feel in the mouth is the drink's texture. Added simple syrup can improve the drink by providing a more rounded mouthfeel, similar to the way fat works in a dish.

Furthermore, when you add sugar to a cocktail, it helps balance out the various flavors in the drink. It rounds out some of the harshness that sour ingredients can bring and tames the "dryness" that leaves your mouth feeling parched after a sip of a spirit-dominated cocktail, just like in a martini or Manhattan.

To improve your martini at home, all you need is a simple syrup. In a pan, heat water and sugar in a ratio of 1:1 (one cup of sugar to one cup of water). The syrup is finished once the sugar is fully dissolved in the water — though, you can let it boil for about five minutes to give it a thicker viscosity that works beautifully in martinis. Cool and store it in the fridge, and it will last for a very long time.

A drop of sugar goes a long way

Now that you have some simple syrup on hand, the next trick is how and where to use them. Since the goal of the syrup is to improve texture without adding too much extra sweetness, a half teaspoon to a teaspoonful of syrup goes a long way.

What kind of martinis can benefit from adding simple syrup? The obvious choices are tart and fruity drinks such as apple martinis, cosmopolitans, and lemon drop martinis, which can use sugar to blunt their sharp acidity. Other candidates are liquor-dominated drinks, such as manhattans and standard martinis. You can also try these ten Prohibition-era cocktails where the syrup can help blunt the harsher taste of the liquors. Feel free to experiment with uniquely flavored simple syrups, like a kumquat simple syrup.

However, simple syrup is unnecessary for certain sweet martinis — such as espresso martinis — since they are already quite sweet on their own. It is also not necessary to add syrup to drinks made with very thick and sweet liqueur, such as Campari and soda