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Eight herbaceous simple syrups to spruce up cocktails

Rosemary simple syrup
Rosemary simple syrup
Taken by author

Fresh herbs are a great way to spruce up cocktails, contributing a unique and earthy flavor to everything from gin and tonics to bloody marys. Infusing simple syrups with herbs is a great way to add a desirable herbal flavor without the hassle of picking pesky leaves out of your drink. Impress your (taste) buds with these eight, easy-to-make herbaceous simple syrups.

Simple syrup typically consists of a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, made by dissolving 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of boiling water, but these amounts can be adjusted to suit personal preferences. I prefer to reduce the amount of sugar (to 3/4 cup) to let the flavor of the herb shine and also to cut down on the calories/sweetness.

If you’re calorie-conscious, you can also use sugar substitutes like agave syrup. Try using 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 agave syrup to further cut down on the calories.

Rosemary-infused simple syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh rosemary

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add 4-6 sprigs of rosemary; add fewer sprigs for a more subtle flavor or add a few more for a more pungent flavor. Cover and let steep for at least 15 minutes. Remove rosemary sprigs and cool before serving.

Suggested pairings: Gin, champagne, grapefruit juice, lemonade.

Thyme-infused simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add 6-8 sprigs of thyme; add fewer sprigs for a more subtle flavor or add a few more for a more pungent flavor. Cover and let steep for at least 15 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and cool before serving.

Suggested pairings: Bourbon, vodka, lemonade.

Mint-infused simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar, desired amount of mint leaves and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for an additional 15 minutes, or longer if you’d like a stronger flavor. Remove mint leaves and cool before using.

Suggested pairings: Bourbon, white rum, lemon juice, lime juice.

Basil-infused simple syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar, desired amount of basil leaves and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for an additional 15 minutes, or longer if you’d like a stronger flavor. Remove basil leaves and cool before using.

Suggested pairings: Vodka, muddled cucumber, muddled strawberry, lemonade.

Sage-infused simple syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 cup fresh sage leaves, loosely packed

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar, desired amount of sage leaves and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for an additional 15 minutes, or longer if you’d like a stronger flavor. Remove sage leaves and cool before using.

Suggested pairings: Gin, Prosecco, grapefruit juice, muddled blackberries.

Tarragon-infused simple syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh tarragon

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add 6-8 sprigs of tarragon; add fewer sprigs for a more subtle flavor or add a few more for a more pungent flavor. Cover and let steep for at least 15 minutes. Remove tarragon sprigs and cool before serving.

Suggested pairings: Gin, vodka, grapefruit juice, lemonade.

Lemon Verbena-infused simple syrup

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 - 1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves, loosely packed

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar, desired amount of lemon verbena leaves and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for an additional 15 minutes, or longer if you’d like a stronger flavor. Remove lemon verbena leaves and cool before using.

Suggested pairings: Gin, vodka, muddled strawberries, muddled raspberries.

Dill-infused simple syrup

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
4-6 sprigs of fresh dill

Directions:
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add 6-8 sprigs of dill. Cover and let steep for at least 2 hours. Remove dill sprigs and cool before serving.

Suggested pairings: Gin, vodka, tomato juice, muddled cucumber.