I have encountered several types of simple syrup when it comes to cocktails. Firstly there is the question of mass ratio vs volume ratio. Then what ratio to use. I don't use simple syrup that often and heard that a 2:1 mass ratio simple syrup could be stored longer, so I made that. Usually recipes use a 1:1 volume ratio or a 1:1 mass ratio I think? Anyway: I want to know if there are any other ratios used? (other than 2:1 and 1:1) For example 3:2. Is there any point in making a syrup stronger than 2:1 (will the sugar dissolve properly, is it practical to have such strong syrup, and will it last longer in storage)?

Some context (not neccecary for the answer, but can clarify why I am asking):

I wondered how you could substitute a 1:1 syrup with a 2:1 syrup and still have the same mass (g) of sugar in you cocktail (as to not make it too sweet). Since I enjoy playing around with math I set about to discover a formula for this (but with any ratios), and I did. More precicley I dicovered 4 formulas, depending on if the recipe syrup ratio is given in mass or volume and if the syrup substitute ratio is given in mass or volume. This formula only depends on the ratio of the syrups, the density of the syrups and the density of sugar (when you measure it by volume). Therefore I want to measure some simple syrup densities to correctly substitute simple syrup in recipes. Here are the four formulas if you wondered:

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The delta (δ) is just the density of water: 1g/mL (to make the units match). These formulas calculate the transition from syrup 1 to syrup 2:

enter image description here

The formulas are for (in order from left to right): mass ratio -> mass ratio, volume ratio -> volume ratio, volume ratio -> mass ratio, mass ratio -> volume ratio. Meaning that if I want to substitute a 1:1 volume ratio syrup with my 2:1 mass ratio syrup, I use formula number 3 from the left to calculate how much 2:1 syrup (in mL) I should include to have the same amount of sugar as in the recipe.

I use an index of 1 to indicate the recipe syrup and an index of 2 to indicate the substitute syrup. Also: yes, I know this isn't really neccecary and you can just take about the sam amount. However, I enjoyed doing the math and thinking. Since I already have this I thought that maybe I should use it? To do this I need to measure the densities of different syrups, so the question is more or less: which syrups should I measure? I want to measure different syrups encountered in recipes, but I don't know of any other than 1:1 and 2:1, so I thought I'd ask here what ratios you have encountered in cocktail recipes.

My thoughts:

A 1:1 ratio syrup is 1/(1+1)=1/2=50% sugar (by volume or mass) and a 2:1 ratio syrup is 2/(2+1)=2/3≈67% sugar (by volume or mass). Since there is not that much difference between a 50% and 67% mix I can understand that you would just use the same amount without making too big of a difference. Also it probably doesn't make much sense to do a 3:2 syrup: 3/(3+2)=3/5=60% sugar, since this is very close to the 2:1 syrup.

I wonder if it would be any point to making a say 80% sugar syrup (4:1)? Or maybe a syrup with less than 50% sugar? However, I can not see how a syrup with less than 50% sugar could be useful other than for people who can consume sugar, but need to do so in small amounts. Then maybe a cocktail/mocktail with 20-30% sugar would be prefered instead?

After all of this I am tempted to make a recipe using a 3:2 syrup. This way you could probably use a 2:1 syrup instead just fine, but it would be funny to know that perfectionists eighter had to make a new kind of syrup just for this one cocktail or have to live with the fact that they didn't make the cocktail properly according to the recipe.

Sorry that this was so long and technical. Although the syrup itself is not related to alcohol, the context of the question is indeed related to it (cocktail recipes). Thus I hope this question can be accepted (also you do not have to read the context to answer the question).

1 Answer 1


In my experience, it's all down to the "House style". I have worked in bars where all of the recipes are made with 1:1 and I have also worked bars where everything is 2:1, 3:2 is somewhat rarer but not out of the question. All of these ratios are by weight to be more accurate and use caster sugar as the grain size is smaller and therefore dissolves faster.

I think there is an advantage to each ratio, namely the speed of dissolution.

1:1 (50 brix) is super easy to make and the sugar completely dissolves in cold water. It's better suited to drinks where dilution isn't a problem, so for crushed ice drinks etc. It pours very easily through a standard speed pourer but is less shelf-stable so will need to be refrigerated and used very quickly. This suits the at-home bartender fine, it incorporates easily into drinks although you will need to use more per drink to get the same sweetness. This could be a downside to bar use as bartenders will go through a higher volume of syrup and that'll need topping up sooner.

2:1 (67 brix) is a little more difficult to make as it requires either hot water to make or needs to be brought to a boil and vigorous stirring for all of the sugar crystals to dissolve. The advantage is that you will be adding less water to your drinks so you can concentrate flavours more. This syrup does need to be worked a bit more to fully incorporate through shaking, stirring etc as it tends to fall to the bottom of a drink in a layer if not mixed properly. This is also slightly more shelf-stable and can be kept for longer, suiting most bars although it is very difficult to pour through a standard speed-pourer as it is too viscous, requiring a jet-pourer (which has a larger mouth) to be used effectively. There is also a tendency for this ratio to re-crystalise if it is kept cold for too long (although commercial "gomme" manufacturers use anti-crystallisation additives to combat this sometimes) and any crystallised sugar counts against the effective sweetness so it can be a downside.

A 3:2 ratio (60 brix) generally cuts the balance between the 1:1 useability and the 2:1 intensity. It can be made with cold water easily, poured easily and (generally speaking) lasts longer than 1:1. The only potential downside to a 3:2 ratio is that most recipes found on the internet either use 1:1 "simple" syrup or 2:1 "rich" syrup so translating the intended sweetness of any given cocktail could prove to be tough.

It's very tough to dissolve sugar into water any more than 67 brix, you can get to 70 brix (7:3 ratio) by heating a 2:1 sugar syrup to the point that it becomes inverted syrup, although that chemically changes the perceived sweetness so it isn't advised unless you are making shelf-stable products that are made on a mass scale. Making it yourself is inadvisable anyway as its difficult to determine how much water is lost due to evaporation.

As for a 4:1 (80 brix) ratio syrup, there is little point trying this in terms of making something useful for cocktails as it will be very difficult to dissolve all the sugar crystals and even then, it would be very difficult to incorporate into drinks and also re-crystallise when left alone.

A 1:2 (33 brix) syrup would only be useful if the resulting drink could cope with heaps of dilution, not to mention you'll be making a syrup that could spontaneously ferment quickly if not made entirely sterile.

It's up to you but a 3:2 syrup has a lot of advantages over the other recipes if you are willing to translate some recipes to get the balance right. If you are coming up with your own recipes then you'll just be developing your "House Style"

  • 1
    Thank you. I have been making 2:1 syrup since it is more shelf stable than 1:1, but maybe I will give 3:2 a try!
    – Vebjorn
    Commented Jan 19 at 19:36

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