Friday Cocktails: Making ‘Nigerian’ Simple Syrups

Simple syrups – fundamental sweetness to cocktails and mocktails. And easy to make. 

What is a simple syrup?

The foundation for everything from lemonade to iced tea, your standard simple syrup is a combination of 1 part sugar to 1 part water. For example – 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water, cooked till the sugar is dissolved and a sticky, (slightly) viscous liquid results. Richer syrups can be made with an increased amount of sugar for a thicker consistency.

Typically, white sugar is used but other sugars are ‘allowed’ from demerara to turbinado and dark brown.

Why do we need simple syrups?

Most mixed drinks need a bit of sweet to round off/ balance flavours. Rather than use sugar – hard to dissolve and gritty, simple syrups are the way to go.

They bring sweetness as well as a smooth mouthfeel – depending on the quantity used, of course without the knowledge that when stirred properly, there will be uniform sweetness in the drink and no accumulation at the bottom of the glass.

Can we use other sweeteners?

You could cook down sugarcane juice but I find that the sweetness isn’t as concentrated as that made with sugar syrup


Making simple syrups with Nigerian ingredients

I’ve made a few versions with traditional Nigerian ingredients, like a house favourite of scent leaves & lemon grass, as in my wine mixer featuring Agbalumo.


The other two I’ve tried are fantastic. Well, the other one as the Agbalumo syrup turned to jam. Anyhow, both were kicked off by cold-brewing 

Zobo syrup

8 – 10 Zobo flowers in 1 cup of sugarcane syrup with 2 pieces of dried ginger and 6 cloves.


Soaked overnight, the resulting liquid was strained and cooked with an additional 1/2 cup of sugar for 3 minutes till reduced and a touch thick and sticky

Nigerian Cocktails

Agbalumo syrup

10 – 15 segments from 3 Agbalumo fruits in sugarcane syrup. This was blended, water stirred in and strained to make a cup, then cooked with /2 cup of sugar for 3 minutes till reduced and a touch thick and sticky. On cooling, this turned to jam.

How to store sugar syrups

Sugar syrups can keep for up to a month, refrigerated.

The more sugar, the longer they can stay as the sugar acts as a preservative.

Up next? A cocktail featuring the Zobo syrup.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Friday Cocktails: Making ‘Nigerian’ Simple Syrups – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]

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