Build a Better Brown Sugar Syrup

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One of the things I can’t run a bar without is a solid 2:1 brown sugar syrup. I love a dark rum Daiquiri with Demerara syrup, I only use brown sugar syrup in my Irish Coffees, and Muscovado syrup goes great in cocktails made with my house ginger beer recipe.

I’ve been thinking about having all of these syrups on hand lately, and wondering if there was a way to combine brown sugar, Muscovado sugar, and Demerara or Turbinado sugar to create my own all-purpose, kick-ass house brown sugar syrup blend.

And after getting frustrated with weighing out all of these sugars and tasting the resulting syrup, making adjustments, tasting again (cue the infomercial voiceover “There’s got to be a better way!) it finally dawned on me: at their core, most brown sugars (with the exception of the truly “raw” dark sugars like piloncillo, and even then… still) are little more than sweetened molasses.

Without getting into too much sugar knowledge (there are plenty of articles out there, and some information in The Bar Book for you) pure, flavorless white sugar is the end product of the sugar refining process, and molasses is the by-product. White sugar has almost no flavor, molasses has a ton. Some dark sugars are less refined and contain some molasses content, while good old American boxed “brown sugar” is merely white sugar that’s been sprayed with some amount of molasses (5%-ish for light brown, 10%-ish for dark, by weight)

So I thought, to make my ultimate house 2:1 brown sugar that I’ll enjoy universally in everything from an Irish Coffee to an aged rum Daiquiri, why don’t I just find some really flavorful molasses and mix it with pure white sugar and water? That way I can adjust just one ingredient until I find the syrup that works for me.

Here’s the recipe I landed on. I went with a super flavorful blackstrap molasses mixed with white sugar at a 10%-to-90% ratio. It’s easy to make and my proprietary blend will be unique when set against other bars making the same drink with off-the-shelf brown sugar syrups.

Note: I don’t include the brand names of the molasseses I tried, as the product names are all holdovers from an era of human slavery. If anyone has suggestions for a quality molasses with a name that speaks to the product inside and not to the people who were once forced to make it, please it them in the comments below.

Step One: Weigh Your Molasses

I think 12 oz/350 ml of syrup is a good quantity. If you’re a home bartender it’s the right amount to have and not go bad, if you’re a professional bartender you can double the recipe and have enough for one station. So that’s a 300g-sugar-to-150g water ratio. I want 10% of that sugar to be molasses, so let’s weigh out 30g.

Step Two: Weigh Your Sugar

Dump 270 grams of white sugar on top of that. The reason we’re doing it in this order is that it’s easy to scoop out a little of the white sugar if you accidentally pour too much.

Step Three: Weigh Your Water in a Separate Container

Weigh out 150 grams of water. Temperature doesn’t really matter, cold is fine.

Step Four: Heat to Combine

I nuked this in the microwave for two minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. You can do it on the stovetop if you don’t own a microwave but if you do I would recommend weighing out your ingredients in the pan first, rather than in plastic containers and then trying to move sticky molasses to a pan.

Step Five: Let Cool, Bottle, and Refrigerate

At 2:1, this syrup will last a very, very long time.

Prefer yours a little more flavorful and dry? Add more molasses. Looking for something a little lighter and less funky? Add less. Just be sure to make up for the molasses with more or less sugar, accordingly, to maintain that 2:1 ratio of sugars to water.

And, as always, cheers…. enjoy.

House Brown Sugar Syrup Print Me

  • 30g molasses
  • 270g white sugar
  • 150g water
  1. Combine all ingredients
  2. Heat and stir until combined
  3. Let cool, bottle, and refrigerate
  4. Makes 12oz/350ml

Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com

23 Replies to “Build a Better Brown Sugar Syrup”

  • Jack G. says:

    Thanks for the recipe! What type of sugar syrup would you say that the ratio in the written recipe is closest to? I’d like to get something close to a demerrara, and I’m not sure if this darker or lighter than that. Thanks again for all your great recipes.

  • Matt says:

    Jeffrey,

    Your expertise and knowledge behind the bar, combined with the fact that you share your innovations with us, is simply astounding. I so look forward to trying this syrup – as I seem to be on a rum kick this summer. However, can you please clarify whether you are utilizing molasses or blackstrap molasses? In the above article, you reference it as either/or. My understanding is that the two are very different.

    I have some Grandma’s Molasses in my pantry that my wife uses for baking and cooking purposes. I don’t necessarily want to go out and buy a seperate container of blackstrap molasses, just to use a small bit here and there for syrups.

    I’ve linked a helpful article below for anyone seeking similar clarification.
    https://www.seriouseats.com/what-is-blackstrap-molasses

    Thank you,
    Matt

    • Thank you, Matt. I made both and both were great, but yes, I did prefer the blackstrap molasses. The reason why I didn’t specify is the same reason why I sometimes choose to leave very specific ingredient determinations out of my recipes: not all of these ingredients are widely available in all parts of the world where this website is referenced. I deliberately choose not to alienate users when I can avoid it because I want everyone to have access to the information I present and not feel discouraged if they can’t find a specific item. So yeah, if you can find blackstrap molasses it’s going to have a much deeper flavor here.

  • Jarred Craven says:

    Sounds pretty sweet.

    Wholesome is my go to brand for molasses. I don’t usually seek out Fair Trade over local products, but with something with a history as shit as the sugar industry I feel pretty good about that brand.

  • Tori says:

    GloryBee makes a great Blackstrap Molasses.

  • Dan Lease says:

    Now I want to try this with pomegranate molasses. Then try it with some brandies and maybe some real funky rums/agricoles.

  • Greg says:

    I’ve made a syrup out of Sorghum syrup (which I grew up on but has a unique flavor different from molasses) for years. It has more of a savory elements than molasses or simple syrup and I think it has worked well in an Old Fashioned, Sazerac, or Daiquiri.

  • Nick says:

    Try Steen’s for cane syrup and molasses. It’s a Louisiana-based company. Not sure on their history but it’s some good stuff.

  • Michael L says:

    Hm, now I want to do a blackstrap molasses taste test. There’s the slavery-inspired one with the yellow label as a control, I suppose, but then there’s brands like Wholesome, GloryBee, Golden Barrel, Cadia, and McCutcheon’s.

  • Brad says:

    Look into Crosby’s Molasses. Made from sugarcane juice from volcanic soil in Santa Lucia, Guatemala, made at the Madre Tierra sugar mill, and imported to us! I believe that Privateer Rum started using their molasses a few years back for their rum production. Cheers!

  • Andy Flook says:

    Golden Barrel makes a great blackstrap, it’s made in Pennsylvania. Cheers Jeff, Thanks for all you do!

  • Tim says:

    I’ve been able to store regular white sugar 2:1 rich simple unrefrigerated in swing top bottles for quite awhile. Do you think this would keep similarly?

  • Jacob Alexander Garcia says:

    Have you thought about using cane sugar instead of the white? I imagine it would be even more interesting, unless if you already experimented with that.

    • Cane sugar is just sugar made from sugar cane as opposed to sugar beets. I assume you’re talking about the tan-colored granulated sugar, which is just basically refined sugar with a higher molasses content than white sugar. Since you’re going to be adding molasses to the final product I don’t think there’s much point in spending the extra money on the more expensive tan sugar.

  • Connie says:

    BLESS YOU! My refrigerator is loaded up with brown sugar (1 to 1 and 2 to 1), demerrara, and turbinado and I was just getting ready to throw two of them out because I wasn’t using them (the brown sugar and the turbinado – demerrara and turbinado taste the same to me

    Can’t wait to try this out! Thank you Mr Morganthaller!

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