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1–2 July 2024
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Cocktail-focused syrups – the latest flavours, and how to make the most of them

Many bars elect to produce their own syrups for cocktails in-house, and there are certainly advantages to this, with the opportunity to create something unique, and possibly more cost-effective than buying these in. But there are advantages to stocking syrup brands, including consistency, access to flavours you might not otherwise be able to easily create, as well as brand support. There’s no shortage of syrup brands out there to choose from though, with some more cocktail-focused than others.

Dee Davies, co-creator and development manager of Bristol Syrup Company, acknowledges that a primary reason that bartenders make their own syrups is to guarantee quality. “We designed our syrups to taste authentic to the name on the label, and to those syrups that are made fresh,” she says. “It’s always fantastic to see our products being used behind the bar. Recently we have seen a few cocktail bars using our syrups as a base for their own creations. Because they can rely on the flavour and consistency of our syrups, they can ensure the cocktails created will also be delicious and consistent.”

One brand with an array of unusual flavours – including Eggnog, Bacon, and something called Witches Brew – is UK-based William Fox Drinks Co. “Lots of bars are coming up with incredibly creative serves,” says founder George Tudor-Williams, who highlights the use of the brand’s custard syrup in particular.

For a glimpse of just how creative things can get, Monin’s studio manager and beverage expert for UK & Ireland Tony Kousoulou points out a drink from a recent pop-up at The Royal Cocktail Exchange in Soho over the winter months. Essentially an Irish Coffee, with rooibos and vanilla, this is topped with a Pornstar Semifreddo. “They blend custard while slowly pouring in neutral oil to emulsify the dessert, then mix in prosecco, Monin Passionfruit and Amarula,” he explains. “This is then frozen, with the oil keeping it from freezing – the result is a super-smooth, mousse-like pudding.”

Monin is taking this all a step further, with a new advocacy programme including cocktail masterclasses. “One of these is Monin-Fusion, a deep dive into creating your own cordials, foams, liqueurs, superblends and infusions, all using a Monin product as its starting point,” says Kousoulou. “This opens up some pretty crazy flavour combinations and in-demand flavours that we can’t commercially produce ourselves, whilst teaching some relevant skills for bartenders to further develop their understanding of flavour and how to approach menu curation.”

Giffard UK brand ambassador Alex Robin has a similar approach when it comes to incorporating the brand’s syrups. “I encourage bars to use syrup as a flavouring element in homemade ingredients, on top of the usual drink sweetener,” he says. “For example, blending syrups with different levels of various sugars – white, demerara, muscovado or maple – and water, to elevate cocktails and improve consistency, or as a shrub base by blending them with vinegar.”

Meanwhile, there’s a steady stream of new flavours from all of these syrup brands to choose from, such as new Saffron and Chili options from Giffard. “We are constantly working on new flavours,” says Robin.

So is William Fox, with recent additions including a Blood Orange flavour. “The latest flavour to launch is Popcorn Syrup, which can be used in anything from Espresso Martinis to a classic Old Fashioned with a cinema twist,” says Tudor-Williams.

Monin has plenty in store for the first half of 2024. “It’s a big year for NPD for us, with Cinnamon Roll, Ginger Concentrate and our new range ‘Pure, By Monin’ all dropping around Q2 of this year,” says Kousoulou, who adds that the brand is planning Chapter II of its Paragon Cordials range for later in the year too. “Cinnamon Roll will be a great addition for indulgent style cocktails, which we tend to see more of in the winter/festive months. Most of my attention, however, is focusing on our new ginger concentrate, which is a shelf-stable substitute for the application of ginger juice in drinks – perfect for cocktails such as the Penicillin, and can also be used for cultivating your own ginger beer.”

Over at Bristol Syrup Company, in addition to a number of new cocktail-focused syrups planned for this year, the team have been busy supporting bars around the UK, with drink and menu development. “At the end of January we hosted FOCO x Pepo, bringing the owner/managers of FOCO Barcelona to take over Pepo Newcastle,” says Davies. “We have a few more takeovers in the diary throughout the year.”

Top tips for making the most of syrups in cocktails

“With the warmer months (hopefully) starting to approach, we’re doing more development around the use of our syrups in cocktails such as Spritzes. Using 15ml-20ml of syrup with bubbles and a splash of soda offers a great baseline Spritz recipe, boosting GP margins over liqueur-based alternatives. We’re also moving into showcasing more slushy/frozen serves. We have dozens of templates and recipes on hand for creative, highly innovative and delicious drinks, so reach out if you ever need support for menu and drink creation.” Tony Kousoulou, studio manager and beverage expert for UK & Ireland, Monin

“Bar operators should consider flavour swapping throughout the year according to seasonality, on top of having a basic core range such as sugar, grenadine, vanilla, passion fruit... And include these in original garnish developments too. The hot drinks market, not just in coffee shops but in bars and restaurants too, is really important. Adding better quality products like Giffard to elevate serves, not necessarily in huge quantities, will lead to improved revenue and customer satisfaction.” Alex Robin, UK brand ambassador, Giffard

“I think simplicity is key, and also always recommend using a book like [Niki Segnit’s] The Flavour Thesaurus to come up with interesting flavour matches.” George Tudor-Williams, founder, William Fox Drinks

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