Simple syrup is a handy ingredient used in many cocktails and drinks. It’s a mixture of equal parts sugar and water that dissolves easily, helping sweeten and thicken drinks. Many wonder if they can find simple syrup at their local grocery store instead of going to a specialty store or making it themselves. The quick answer is that yes, you can absolutely buy simple syrup at a regular grocery store these days! Most large supermarkets will carry it near the drink mixes and juices. Read on to learn more about buying simple syrup at the grocery store.
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup, also sometimes called bar syrup, is an ingredient used in cocktails, coffee drinks, desserts, and other foods and beverages. It consists of equal parts sugar and water which have been heated together until the sugar fully dissolves. This results in a thick, viscous syrup that easily incorporates into drinks.
The typical ratio used is 1:1, meaning 1 cup of granulated sugar dissolved into 1 cup of water. However, a richer simple syrup can be made with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. Simple syrup is clear and odorless, adding sweetness without altering the flavors in a drink. It mixes in more smoothly than regular granulated sugar.
Why Use Simple Syrup?
There are several advantages to using simple syrup rather than regular sugar in drinks:
- It dissolves easily and fully integrates into cold and hot beverages.
- You don’t end up with undissolved granules of sugar at the bottom of your glass.
- It incorporates flavors evenly throughout a drink.
- You can make custom simple syrups by adding different flavorings.
- It has a smooth, silky texture.
- You can control the sweetness level by adjusting the sugar ratio.
Simple syrup is commonly used in cocktails like whiskey sours, old fashioneds, daiquiris, and many more. The liqueurs and juices don’t fully dissolve plain granulated sugar. Simple syrup solves this problem with its quick-dissolving properties.
It’s also useful for sweetening coffee drinks, teas, lemonades, fruit punches, and desserts like sorbets. You can also create flavored simple syrups by adding ingredients like spices, citrus fruits, herbs, vanilla, berries, rosewater, and more.
Where to Find Simple Syrup at the Grocery Store
The grocery store is a convenient place to buy simple syrup rather than having to search specialty stores or make your own. Here are the sections to check when looking for simple syrup:
- Beverage Aisle – Check near the drink mixes, juices, soda, and bottled beverages. Simple syrup is often stocked in this area since it’s a common mixer.
- Coffee Aisle – Some grocery stores carry simple syrup near the vanilla, chocolate, and flavored coffee syrups as an addition for sweetening coffee drinks.
- Cocktail Mixes – Many stores now have sections dedicated to cocktail mixes, ingredients, and garnishes. Simple syrup is usually found here.
- Baking Aisle – Sometimes simple syrup is shelved near baking extracts, sugars, flour, and baking mixes as an ingredient for desserts.
Look for simple syrup bottles near other drink flavorings, sweeteners, and mixer ingredients for the best chance of finding it. The brand Torani makes a widely available simple syrup that grocers often carry.
How to Choose Simple Syrup at the Grocery Store
There are a few things to look for when selecting simple syrup at the grocery store:
- Check the ingredients list. It should only contain sugar and water, without any added flavors, preservatives, or colors.
- Select the sugar ratio you prefer. Most contain an equal 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. Richer options like 2:1 or even 3:1 ratios are also available for more sweetness.
- Look for versatility. Some simple syrup brands come in a variety of flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, almond, and more. Pick an option that works for your needs.
- Consider convenience. Simple syrup comes in both squeeze bottles and glass bottles with a pour spout. Choose whichever you find easier to use and store.
- Watch expiration dates. Because it lacks preservatives, simple syrup has a relatively short shelf life. Pick a bottle with a distant expiration.
You may find both original and flavored simple syrup options at your grocery store. Flavored versions can be great for drinks like cinnamon whiskey sours or lavender lemonades. But you can always flavor your own basic simple syrup at home too.
How Much Does Simple Syrup Cost at the Grocery Store?
Simple syrup is relatively inexpensive at the grocery store. Here are some typical price points:
- 16 oz squeeze bottle – $4 to $8
- 25 oz glass bottle with pour spout – $6 to $12
- 1 liter (34 oz) glass bottle – $8 to $15
- 2 liter (68 oz) plastic jug – $12 to $20
Of course, prices vary between brands, bottle sizes, and locations. But in general, expect to pay under $1 per fluid ounce. Making your own simple syrup from sugar and water costs just a fraction of store prices. But the convenience of buying pre-made can be worthwhile for some.
Buying larger sizes can be economical if you frequently cook and mix drinks at home. Smaller bottles may make sense for occasional use. Compare prices between the original and flavored simple syrups and buy accordingly.
Some high-end brands of simple syrup made with organic cane sugar or agave nectar cost a bit more. But typical options using regular white sugar are very budget-friendly.
Pros of Buying Simple Syrup at the Grocery Store
There are a few advantages to purchasing simple syrup rather than making it yourself:
- Convenience – It saves you the effort of having to boil sugar water and wait for it to cool.
- Consistency – Store-bought provides reliable results in terms of flavor and thickness.
- Shelf life – An unopened bottle lasts 1 to 2 years in the pantry. Homemade only keeps for about a month.
- Flavor options – Many brands offer flavors like vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon, etc. These can inspire drink ideas.
- Portability – Small squeeze bottles are great for bringing to parties, events, picnics, etc.
- Cost – It’s inexpensive, especially when buying larger sizes.
The ease of grabbing simple syrup off the shelf compared to making it is the biggest advantage for many people. Bottled syrup also holds its consistency over time better than homemade.
Cons of Buying Simple Syrup at the Grocery Store
However, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:
- Preservatives and artificial colors/flavors may be present in some brands.
- You have less ability to customize the sugar-to-water ratio.
- Bottles take up storage space until used.
- There’s additional packaging waste compared to making your own.
- You have fewer flavoring options than DIY syrups.
- Price per ounce is higher than homemade.
If you prefer an all-natural simple syrup without any added ingredients, making it yourself is the better choice. You can also tweak the sweetness level and flavors to your taste with homemade.
How to Use Store-Bought Simple Syrup
One of the great aspects of simple syrup is how versatile it is! Here are some of the many ways to use simple syrup from the grocery store:
- Cocktails – Add to Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Sours, Mojitos, Margaritas, etc. Start with 1/2 to 1 ounce per drink.
- Coffees & teas – Stir in 1-2 teaspoons to sweeten and add richness.
- Lemonades or fruit punches – Mix in simple syrup to balance tart citrus flavors.
- Desserts – Use in cakes, cookies, pies, and ice creams.
- Sweetening berries or fruit – Drizzle over fresh berries, peaches, grapefruit, etc.
- Smoothies – Add to fruit and veggie smoothies for natural sweetness.
- Syrups – Flavor it with herbs and spices to make flavored syrups.
The options are endless! Keep simple syrup handy for spur-of-the-moment cravings like sweet tea or coffee. Feel free to experiment with adding your own twist by infusing flavors like fresh ginger, mint, lemon, or cloves.
Storing Simple Syrup from the Grocery Store
To get the longest shelf life out of store-bought simple syrup:
- Keep sealed in the refrigerator after opening.
- Transfer to an airtight container if storing for longer than 2-3 months.
- Look out for mold if storing for over 6 months – this means it’s time to toss.
- For maximum freshness, use within 4-6 months of opening.
- Don’t dilute with extra water as this can disrupt the sugar ratio.
- Keep flavored and infused syrups in the fridge for no more than 1-2 months.
An unopened, commercially bottled simple syrup will stay good at room temperature for up to 2 years – be sure to check the best by date. Once opened, syrup is best kept chilled in the fridge to prevent mold growth.
Transferring to a sealed glass jar or bottle helps prevent absorbing fridge odors. Make sure poured syrup is tightly sealed between uses.
Simple syrup is readily available at most grocery stores in the baking, beverage, coffee, and cocktail sections. Choosing between original and the many flavored versions comes down to your preferences and planned uses. While homemade has its perks, the convenience and long shelf life of store-bought makes it an excellent pantry staple. Bottled simple syrup saves you time while only costing $5 to $10 on average.
Keep an eye out for simple syrup next time you shop for groceries. It punches up the flavor of many drinks and foods. With proper storage in the refrigerator, simple syrup from the store can last several months for sweetening all your favorite beverages.