While I was fooling around with making my own sweet vermouth (more on that later), I discovered the awesomeness of simple caramel syrup, an incredibly complex and overlooked ingredient.
Now that I’ve been playing around with caramel syrup for a while, I realize that “caramel” just doesn’t do this stuff justice. To me, caramel is a sweet, buttery topping for ice cream, or a chewy candy reminiscent of butterscotch.
The syrup recipe below is none of these things. It is dark, bitter, complex, and it doesn’t take any sh*t. So that’s why I’m going to call it burnt sugar syrup from now on.
How to make burnt sugar syrup
Get a bunch of sugar and put it into a pan.
Heat it on medium-high heat.
this sh*t is HOT.
This whole process takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove and pan.
It may look like water, but melted sugar is more akin to molten lava. Use caution.
Add to the pan equal parts water to sugar by weight. Be careful – the liquid may sputter and the sugar will likely seize. Keep on the medium heat, stirring constantly, until all the burnt sugar is dissolved. Store in the refrigerator.
A burnt drink recipe
Burnt Whiskey Sour
The complexity of burnt sugar syrup makes it a great choice for amplifying less complex spirits. This whiskey sour recipe has crazy flavors flying around from the syrup and anogstura bitters. I used the saline solution to help mellow things out and blend the bitter notes together.
- 2 oz light Canadian Whiskey
- 1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 oz burnt sugar syrup
- 2-3 dashes angostura bitters
- 2-3 drops 3:1 saline solution
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake hard. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. I prefer not to garnish, though the traditional garnish is a maraschino cherry.
How would you use burnt sugar syrup?