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Sweetening Cold Drinks with Simple Syrup

Debra Redalia


As a longtime fan of drinking iced tea, I have always been aware of the fact that white sugar does not dissolve well in cold drinks.

Some years ago, I ordered iced tea in a fancy little French bistro in San Francisco, and instead of bringing out packets of sugar, the glass of tea came with a small carafe of clear sweet liquid. That was my introduction to what is known as simple syrup–a classic technique for adding sweetener into a medium in which it will not easily dissolve.

Making simple syrup is easy. Simply mix the sweetener half and half with water in a pot, and heat gently with an occasional stir until the sweetener dissolves in the warm water. Then cool, and add to your cold beverage to taste.

When I was writing my Sweet Savvy blog some years ago, I tested all of the sweeteners I was using for that blog, and most would not dissolve in cold water. But they all could be used to make simple syrup. Honey, unrefined cane sugar (such as Sucanat or Rapadura), rice syrup, barley malt syrup, and date sugar can all be used to sweeten cold drinks when first made into simple syrup. Of course, maple syrup can be used as is.

Keep in mind that all of these sweeteners have a flavor that needs to be well-matched to your beverage. I’m sure you will discover some delicious combinations!

And keep in mind that of this list only honey is really a wholefood. If you want to use honey to sweeten a cold drink, this is how to do it.

You can also flavor your simple syrup to pour over ice for snow cones or mix with water and ice for a quick cold drink. See How to Make Flavored Simple Syrup for ideas and instructions.