Universal Syrup Calculator

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Greetings! Today, April 25th, is the 26th anniversary of the day I started my bartending career. A couple of years ago during the height of the pandemic I decided to celebrate by sharing my chocolate chip cookie recipe online. And this year I thought I would just make that a tradition by sharing something I love every year.

I’ve struggle with syrups a little over the years. This whole time I’ve had something of a rag-tag collection of syrup recipes that we’ve used behind the bar. There’s the delicious compound Raspberry Syrup recipe in the Bar Book. I have a couple of Pineapple Syrup recipes, depending on where you look. And of course there are simple syrups I use every day behind the bar. But the thing that I’ve been struggling with is maintaining a perfect ratio of sugar to liquid across every one of them.

For the home bartender, this isn’t a huge deal. You can have a syrup recipe and a drink recipe that’s tailored to the syrup. And you can always adjust as needed. But in a professional bar, it’s really nice to have a consistent sugar content across all of your syrups (I prefer a 2:1 ratio for mine – they last longer in the fridge due to the higher sugar content). Why is it nice to have that consistency? Well, the main reason is that swapping out one syrup for another means you don’t have to make any micro adjustments if the syrups aren’t uniform. Want to take your bourbon Old Fashioned recipe and swap the bourbon out for rum, and your simple syrup for pineapple syrup? Sure would be nice if that pineapple was a perfect 2:1 just like your simple, wouldn’t it?

Problem is, all of these juices come with different sugar contents. Even Dole pineapple varies from can to can depending on the batch. What if there was a super easy way to make a compound syrup that doesn’t involve a bunch of complicated math?

Enter the Universal Syrup Calculator (Google Sheets link – downloadable Excel file is below). I got so fed up with all of these different recipes that I finally sat down and did the math and made the process extremely easy for you. Now all you have to do is weigh your juice (this is the scale I use at home and in the bar), take a quick sugar measurement at room temperature (68ºF/20ºC) with an inexpensive refractometer (this is the one I use – I like that it will take a reading up to 80%), punch those two numbers into the spreadsheet I’ve provided, and it will tell you exactly how much sugar to add in order to make a 1:1 or a 2:1 syrup.

From there, you simply have to gently heat your ingredients on the stove until the sugar is dissolved, remove everything from the heat, and let it cool before you bottle and refrigerate it. Boom! Now you can make a perfect syrup from literally anything: apple juice, pineapple, raspberry, you name it.

Want to check your work? That’s easy, too. Make sure your syrup is at room temperature and peep it through the refractometer. If you’ve made a 1:1 syrup, it will read 50 brix. If you’ve made a 2:1 syrup, it will read 66.6. Try it and see!

The link to the spreadsheet is below. I hope it’s helpful and useful to you.

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